Appropriation Bill (No 1) 2014-2015
Appropriation Bill (No 2) 2014-2015
Appropriation Bill (No 5) 2013-2014
Appropriation Bill (No 6) 2013-2014
Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2014-2015
Introduced: House of
Representatives, 13 May 2014
Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2014-2015 proposes appropriations from the
Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) for the ordinary annual services of the
Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2014-2015 proposes appropriations from the
CRF for services that are not the ordinary annual services of the Government.
Appropriation Bill (No. 5) 2013-2014 proposes appropriations from the
CRF for the ordinary annual services of the Government in addition to amounts
appropriated through the appropriations Acts that implemented the 2013-2014
Budget and the 2013-2014 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.
Appropriation Bill (No. 6) 2013-2014 proposes appropriations from the
CRF for services that are not the ordinary annual services of the Government,
in addition to amounts appropriated through the appropriations Acts that
implemented the 2013-2014 Budget and the 2013-2014 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal
Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2014-2015 proposes
appropriations from the CRF for expenditure in relation to the Parliamentary
Together these bills are referred to as 'the bills'.
The committee has examined a number of appropriations bills and, in each
case, the question of whether it is appropriate that such bills be accompanied
by a statement of compatibility that addresses their potential impact on human
rights, through their operation to permit the implementation of legislation and
government policies and programs.
The committee acknowledges the assistance of the Minister for Finance
(and previous finance ministers), and officials of the Department of Finance,
who have continued to engage with and assist the committee's examination of
Committee view on compatibility
The committee considers that appropriations bills are capable of
engaging the broad range of rights provided for in the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and International Covenant on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the other treaties listed in the Human
Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011.
Human rights assessment of
The statement of compatibility for the bills states:
[A]s the High Court has emphasised ... the Appropriation Acts
do not create rights and nor do they, importantly, impose any duties.
Given that the legal effect of Appropriation Bills is limited
in this way, the Appropriation Bill is not seen as engaging, or otherwise
affecting, the rights or freedoms relevant to the Human Rights (Parliamentary
Scrutiny) Act 2011.
Detailed information on the relevant appropriations, however,
is contained in the Portfolio Statements.
Accordingly, the statement of compatibility provides no further assessment
of the bills' compatibility with human rights.
However, in the committee's view, while the authorising of government
expenditure may not, in itself, create rights or obligations, its ultimate role
in giving effect to policy means that it does in fact engage, and have
implications for, both the promotion and limitation of human rights (noting
that policy assessment processes and the committee's analytical framework are
based around the concept of 'engagement' with human rights).
For example, specific appropriations may involve reductions in
expenditure on social security payments which could amount to retrogression or
limitations on the right to social security and the right to an adequate
standard of living. Thus the appropriation of funds may facilitate the taking
of actions which may involve the failure by Australia to fulfil its obligations
under the treaties listed in the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act
The committee considers that, where there is a sufficiently close
connection between a particular appropriations bill and the implementation of
legislation, policy or programs that may give rise to human rights
compatibility issues, the statement of compatibility for that bill should
provide an assessment of human rights that may be engaged.
The committee notes also that the allocation of funds via appropriations bills
may also be susceptible to a human rights analysis that takes into account
broader questions of compatibility, such as their impacts on progressive
realisation obligations and particular impact on vulnerable minorities or
Notwithstanding the committee's view that appropriations bills may
engage and potentially limit human rights, the committee acknowledges that the Minister
for Finance holds the view that such bills present particular difficulties
given their technical nature, and because they generally include appropriations
for a wide range of programs and activities across many portfolios.
The committee therefore thanks the Minister for Finance for
inviting the committee to meet with department officials to continue to
progress this matter.
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