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Tuesday, 4 November 2003
Page: 22026


Mr Martin Ferguson asked the Minister representing the Special Minister of State, upon notice, on 19 August 2003:

(1) In respect of the decision to increase the printing entitlement for Members from $125,000 to $150,000 per annum, what formula was used to determine the size of the increase in printing allowance for Members.

(2) Has a formula been determined for the future adjustment of the allowance.

(3) Was the General Secretary of the Liberal Party consulted in the consideration of whether the allowance should be increased and whether an amount of the entitlement should be carried forward from one year to the next.

(4) What was the basis of determining that Members should be allowed to carry forward up to 45% of the printing allowance from one year to the next.

(5) For the (a) calendar year 2002, and (b) the financial year 2002-2003, what was the average amount of unspent printing entitlement for (i) government, (ii) opposition, and (iii) independent and minor party Members.

(6) In considering the increase in Members' printing entitlement and the decision to allow up to 45% of the entitlement to be carried forward from one year to the next, was any consideration given to the entitlement of political parties to public funding of elections and the fact that the current rate of election funding payable is increased every six months in line with the Consumer Price Index.

(7) Can the Minister confirm that 1 July 2003 was the date of effect for (a) the increase in the printing entitlement for Members from $125,000 to $150,000 per annum, (b) the introduction of a mechanism to allow up to 45% of the printing entitlement to be carried forward from one year to the next, and (c) the rate of public funding to be increased to 190.570 cents per eligible vote.


Mr Abbott (Minister for Health and Ageing) —The Special Minister of State has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) The decision was taken following a survey of printing costs incurred by a sample of Members.

(2) No.

(3) No.

(4) The carry-forward mechanism was designed to provide flexibility to Members in the use of the printing entitlement. The Remuneration Tribunal has determined carry-forward mechanisms for other capped entitlements, e.g. each year for Communications Allowance (100%) and Charter Entitlement (20%) and between Parliaments for Overseas Study Travel (50%).

(5) (a) Calendar year 2002

The entitlement was limited to a value of $61,986 for the period 1 January to 30 June 2002 and to $125,000 for the period 1 July 2002 to 30 June 2003. As at 31 December 2002 the average unspent amount of the entitlement for the 2002-2003 financial year was:

(i) Government-$93,564.36

(ii) Opposition-$104,352.47

(iii) Independents and Minor Party Members-$117,266.15

(b) Financial year 2002-2003

(i) Government-$47,254.43

(ii) Opposition-$72,956.15

(iii) Independents and Minor Party Members-$94,901.01

(6) No.

(7) (a) Yes. The new rate applied until the amendments of the Parliamentary Entitlements Amendment Regulations relating to the printing entitlement of Members was disallowed on 20 August 2003.

(b) The mechanism would have applied for the first time on 1 July 2004. However, the Parliamentary Entitlements Amendment Regulations relating to the printing entitlements of Members was disallowed on 20 August 2003.

(c) The Australian Electoral Commission advises me that the answer is: Yes.