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Appropriations and Staffing-Senate Standing Committee Reports 25th, February 1997


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A , A U ST R A L IA A-

SENATE STANDING COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS AND STAFFING

TWENTY-FIFTH REPORT

FEBRUARY 1997

SENATE STANDING COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS AND STAFFING

TWENTY-FIFTH REPORT

FEBRUARY 1997

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Members of the Committee

The President of the Senate, Senator the Hon. Margaret Reid (Chair) The Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator the Hon. R Hill The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator the Hon. J Faulkner Senator M. Baume Senator R. Boswell Senator V. Bourne Senator I. Macdonald Senator R. Ray .

Senator the Hon. N. Sherry

Terms of Reference (from Senate Standing Order 19)

(2) The Committee shall inquire into:

(a) proposals for the annual estimates and the additional estimates for the Senate;

(b) proposals to vary the staff structure of the Senate, and staffing and recruitment policies; and

(c) such other matters as are referred to it by the Senate.

(3) The Committee shall: ■

(a) in relation to the estimates -

(i) determine the amounts for inclusion in the parliamentary appropriation bills for the annual and the additional appropriations, and

(ii) report to the Senate upon its determinations prior to the consideration by the Senate of the relevant parliamentary appropriation bill;

(b) in relation to staffing -

(i) make such recommendations to the President, and

(ii) report to the Senate on any matter; and

(c) make an annual report to the Senate on the operations of the Senate's appropriations and staffing, and related matters.

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SENATE STANDING COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS AND STAFFING

TWENTY-FIFTH REPORT

The Senate Standing Committee on Appropriations and Staffing presents its twenty-fifth report.

Determination of the Additional Estimates for 1996-97

The committee determined an amount of $395 000 for inclusion in the Appropriation

(Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 2) 1996-97, comprised as follows:

With the exception of the $20 000 shortfall determined for the Citizenship Visits Program, the government did not include these amounts in the bill.

Parliament House security staff, advised by ASIO, consider that the security equipment in

Parliament House should be upgraded. This will require funding of approximately $5 million

over five years jointly with the House of Representatives for a security assets replacement

program. Funding was sought (and rejected) in the 1996-97 Budget, but the committee, in view

of the importance of the program, determined an amount of $204 000 (part year effect) for inclusion in the additional appropriations for 1996-97.

The Minister for Finance informed the President that the security asset replacement program

could not be considered in the additional estimates process because to do so would breach the

running costs rules and that, if the President so wished, the matter could be brought forward as a

new policy proposal for the 1997-98 Budget.

Hie Senate sat for an additional 12 days in November and December 1996 at a cost of $138 000 to facilitate the Government's legislative program. The Minister did not include in the bill the amount of $138 000 required for the additional sitting days, but indicated that the Provision for

Running Costs Borrowing facility would be increased from $50 000 to $200 000. This would

$

Security assets replacement program (part year)

12 additional sitting days

Deputy President's support position - reclassification (part year) Citizenship Visits Program - shortfall

204 000

138 000

33 000

20 000

395 000 TOTAL

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allow the Department of the Senate to borrow against next year's running costs to fund the

additional sitting days, but does not provide any supplementation. Given that the Senate met on

the additional days to assist the Government's program, the committee considers that the funds

required for those additional days should have been provided in the additional estimates for 1996-97.

The department's running costs have funded a Parliamentary Officer Class 4 support position for successive Deputy Presidents. On 21 October 1996 the Deputy President requested that the

position be brought under the Members of Parliament Staff Act and be upgraded to a Class 6

position to be comparable with a similar position in the Deputy Speaker's office. This request

was agreed to by the Prime Minister who must approve of appointments under section 12 of the

Act. The President when referring the Deputy President's request to the Prime Minister had

stated that, if the proposal was approved, that approval should be accompanied by provision of

the extra funds required as funds were not available for the purpose. The President was informed however that under the current funding arrangements the position would need to be

funded by the Department of the Senate. The additional funds were therefore sought for the cost

of the position for 1996-97. In response to the request the Prime Minister wrote to the President

on 10 December 1996 informing her that he did not support the use of additional estimates for

this purpose but that the government would be prepared to consider a request to adjust the

running costs base of the department for future years. Copies of correspondence relating to the

Prime Minister's decision to upgrade this position were circulated to committee members and are attached.

As stated above, the Minister for Finance included only the $20 000 sought for the shortfall for

the Citizenship Visits Program in the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 2) 1996-97. He stated however that a reduction of the same amount would be made to the 1997-98

budget estimates to ensure, in the Minister's words, 'compliance to the 1996-97 budget savings

target of $ 10m per annum savings across the Parliament'.

New Policy Proposals: 1997-98 Budget

The committee has determined that, with the addition of monies needed to provide senators with Internet services, the funding refused by the Minister for Finance in the additional estimates

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should go forward as new policy proposals for the 1997-98 Budget. The amounts determined by

the committee are:

The committee considers, however, that funding for the reclassified position in the Deputy

President's office, which is now a position under the Members of Parliament Staff Act, should be met by the Department of Administrative Services which meets the cost of staff employed

under the Act by ministers, office holders, senators and members. If the government does not

agree to do this, the Department of the Senate should be supplemented for the full cost for all

future years and be reimbursed for the costs incurred in 1996-97.

The committee has determined an amount of $144 000 for inclusion in the Appropriation

(Parliamentary Departments) Bill 1997-98 for internet services for senators. These funds will

provide desktop access to the internet in senators' offices, with each senator having the option of

maintaining a 'home page'. Salary costs to effect this are estimated at $46 000 per annum.

Access costs (internet fees and equipment) are estimated at $98 000 in the first year.

Copies of correspondence relating to the determinations of the additional estimates for 1996-97

and new policy proposals for 1997-98 are attached.

Margaret Reid

Chairman

$

Security assets replacement program (first year)

12 additional sitting days in 1996

Deputy President's support position (full year plus part 1996-97)

Internet services for senators

TOTAL

565 000

138 000

108 000 144 000

955 000

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A U S T R A L I A N SENATE

S enator Mai Colston Deputy President ^ 3^

and Chairman of Committ

21 October 1996

Senator the Hon Margaret Reid President of the Senate Suite SG.40 Telelift 20-6 Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Madam President

The officer who provides support to me in my position of Deputy President and Chairman of Committees is a Senate officer. I do not find this situation satisfactory, because the officer is responsible to Senate officers, not to me. ·

I understand that the comparable staff member of the Deputy Speaker is responsible to him and employed under the Members of Parliament (Staff) [MOPS] Act. Although that person's salary is paid by the Department of the House of Representatives, he or she is responsible to the Deputy Speaker, not to an officer of the House of Representatives.

I request that a change be made to the position of Deputy President's clerk, so that the officer is employed in a similar way to that of the Deputy Speaker's clerk, and at a similar level of salary under the MOPS Act.

Yours sincerely

MAL COLSTON

2 3 o c t m s CLERK'S C rr)C £

Postal Address: Parliament House, CANBERRA ACT 2600 Phone' (06) 277 3100 Facsimile' Ό 6 ) ?77 3FQd

31 October 1996

363

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Senator Mai Colston Deputy President o f the Senate Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Senator Colston

I refer to your letter of 21 October requesting a change in the nature of a support position in your office. .

You suggest that the PO class 4 occupant of the position is responsible to Senate officers rather than to you and that a more satisfactory arrangement is that of a comparable position in the Deputy Speaker’s office which is filled under the Members o f Parliament (Staff) Act 1984 (MOPS Act) at a higher salary level.

I am advised that the personal approval of the Prime Minister would be needed to bring the position under the MOPS Act. If this were given, the outcome would be an officer employed at a classification level that would not be justified on the basis of the approved duties. The additional cost to the department’s budget would be up to $20 000.

In the circumstances, I would be very reluctant to seek the approval of the Prime Minister on this issue. When reviewing my own staffing needs earlier this year I chose not to approach the Prime Minister, conscious o f the times and the need to make the most effective use of current resources.

On the question of a Senate officer’s responsibility while occupying a position such as that in your office, the Senate department expects such an officer to be responsible only to the senator to whom they have, by agreement, been assigned. I would not accept any other practice.

Yours sincerely

o s r

MARGARET REID

S en ato r Mai Colston

A U S T R A L I AN SENATE

'/u ' Deputy President / and Chairman of Committees

/ / X XrV4j*-S

1 November 1996

Senator the Hon Margaret Reid President o f the Senate Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600

My dear President

I refer to your letter of 31 October, replying to my letter of 21 October. You indicated that the personal approval of the Prime Minister would be needed to bring the position of the Deputy President's clerk under the Members o f Parliament (Staff) A ct 1984 (MOPS Act).

I would ask you to refer the matter to the Prime Minister. In your letter you mentioned that the Deputy President's clerk is classified as PO 4. Since I took up office as Deputy President, I realise that the clerk requires competent typing and shorthand skills. The latter was not mentioned in the original selection criteria, but it is a skill which I shall insist upon when my current clerk leaves for another position later this month. In addition, I need the clerk to assist me in my roles of Chair of the Chairs' Committee, Chair o f the House Committee and Chair of the Procedure Committee. I am convinced that the original classification of PO 4 was not adequate.

I find it difficult to accept that the conditions of employment of the Deputy President's clerk should not be comparable to those of the Deputy Speaker's officer. If you are unwilling to raise the matter with the Prime Minister, I would be grateful if you could let me know so that I can approach him direct.

Yours sincerely

MAL COLSTON S enator for Queensland

^E©liME[D) " f η ύ Ί 1996

CLERK'S OFFICE

Postal Address: Parliament House, CANBERRA ACT 2600 Phone: (06) 277 3100 Facsimile: (06) 277 3694

MINISTER FOR FINANCE

Senator the Hon Margaret Reid President o f the Senate Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600

8 JAN 1 9 9 7

j o J A N 1957

D ear Madam lam^resident ·/\

. CLERK’S OFFICE

Thank you for your letter o f 12 December 1996, highlighting four issues for my attention. My consideration on each of these matters is outlined as follows.

The security asset replacement program cannot be considered in the Additional Estimates process. I have addressed this matter separately in my letter of 16 December.

On the matter of supplementation for the additional sitting days, also referenced in correspondence dated 5 November 1996 and 2 December 1996,1 do not accept that there exists a demonstrable case for supplementation at this time. I propose to increase the Provision for Running Costs Borrowing facility currently $50,000 to $200,000. This should ensure greater flexibility and access to the running costs arrangements.

Regarding the Deputy President's support position, I understand the Prime Minister wrote to you on 10 December 1996. No supplementation can be made at this time. You may however wish to raise the matter again in the Budget context.

As negotiated between our officials an additional $20,000 has been added to the Senate's Citizenship Visits Program in 1996-97 and a reduction of the same amount has been attributed to the 1997-98 budget estimate to ensure ongoing compliance to the 1996-97 budget savings target of $ 10m per annum savings across the Parliament.

On the 18th of November 1996, I wrote to the Speaker of the House ofRepresentatives, ' noting that I looked forward to further advice on the results of the review undertaken by | yourself and the Speaker into Parliamentary administration. Should this review necessitate budgetary reforms, might I suggest that the 1996-97 budget process would . be an ideal opportunity to bring this review to the Government's attention.

Yours sincerely

JOHN FAHEY

P R O T E C T E D

Parliament House, CANBERRA ACT 2600 Telephone: (06)277 7400 Fax: (06) 273 4110

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

PARLIAMENTARY PAPER No. 467 of 1997 ORDERED TO BE PRINTED

ISSN 0727-4181