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Appropriations and Staffing-Senate Standing Committee Reports 2012-13


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The Senate

Appropriations and Staffing Committee

Annual Report 2012-13

June 2013

© Commonwealth of Australia 2013

ISSN 1839-9630 (print) ISSN 1839-9649 (online)

This document was produced by the Appropriations and Staffing Committee, and printed by the Senate Printing Unit, Parliament House, Canberra

Members of the Committee

The President of the Senate, Senator the Hon. John Hogg (Chairman)

The Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator the Hon. Steven Conroy

The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator the Hon. Eric Abetz

Senator the Hon. Jacinta Collins

Senator the Hon. John Faulkner

Senator Stephen Parry

Senator Lisa Singh

Senator John Williams

Senator Nick Xenophon

The Senate PO Box 6100 Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600

Telephone: (02) 6277 3015 Facsimile: (02) 6277 3448 Email: approps@aph.gov.au

Internet: www.aph.gov.au

The Committee

The Standing Committee on Appropriations and Staffing, appointed under standing order 19, determines the amounts for inclusion in the parliamentary appropriation bills and reports to the Senate on its determinations prior to the Senate’s consideration of

those bills.

The Committee examines matters affecting the staffing and administration of the Department of the Senate, including proposals to vary the staffing structure, and other matters referred to it by the Senate. The Committee makes an annual report to the Senate on the operations of the Senate’s appropriations and staffing and related matters (standing order 19(3)).

The Committee has the explicit capacity to scrutinise security funding and administration and to advise the President and the Senate as appropriate. Under a resolution of the Senate agreed to in 1987 the Committee also examines proposed changes in the structure and responsibilities of the parliamentary departments and, following the adoption by the Senate on 27 November 2012 of the recommendation in the Committee’s 54th Report, the Committee may advise the President and the Senate on the administration and funding of information and communications technology services for the Parliament.

The Committee is chaired by the President and includes the Senate Leaders of the Government and the Opposition as ex officio members.

Secretary

(James Warmenhoven)

Annual Report 2012-13

Introduction

1.1 The Standing Committee on Appropriations and Staffing is appointed under Senate standing order 19. The Committee inquires into:

 proposals for the annual estimates and the additional estimates for the Senate;

 proposals to vary the staff structure of the Senate, and staffing and recruitment policies; and

 other matters as are referred by the Senate.

1.2 The Committee has the explicit capacity to scrutinise security funding and administration and to advise the President and the Senate as appropriate. Under a resolution of the Senate agreed to in 1987 the Committee also examines proposed changes in the structure and responsibilities of the parliamentary departments and, following the adoption by the Senate on 27 November 2012 of the recommendation in the Committee’s 54th Report, the Committee may advise the President and the Senate on the administration and funding of information and communications technology services for the Parliament.

1.3 Under standing order 19(3) the Committee is required to make an annual report to the Senate on the operations of the Senate’s appropriations and staffing and related matters.

1.4 The Committee is chaired by the President of the Senate and includes 8 other senators. The Senate Leaders of the Government and the Opposition are ex officio members.1

Committee membership

1.5 During the year, the following senators were Committee members:

 The President of the Senate, Senator the Hon. John Hogg (Chairman)

 The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator the Hon. Chris Evans from 1 July 2012 to 4 February 2013 and Senator the Hon Steven Conroy from 4 February 2013)

 The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator the Hon. Eric Abetz

 Senator the Hon. Jacinta Collins

 Senator the Hon. John Faulkner

1 Senate Standing Order 19(4).

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 Senator Stephen Parry

 Senator Lisa Singh

 Senator John Williams

 Senator Nick Xenophon

Committee activities

1.6 During the reporting period, the Committee tabled three reports:

 the Committee's Annual Report for 2011-12;

 the Committee's 54

th report, entitled A governance structure for

Parliamentary ICT services; and

 the Committee's 55

th report entitled Estimates for the Department of the Senate 2013-14; Transfer of information and communications technology services; Budgetary milestones

1.7 The Committee met on six occasions: on 20 August 2012, 18 September 2012, 19 September 2012, 22 November 2012, 27 February 2013 and 15 May 2013. It considered the following matters at those meetings.

20 August 2012

1.8 The Committee further considered the effect of proposed Departmental savings measures on Senators. The Committee approved the draft 2011-12 Annual Report, and noted the first communique issued from the Presiding Officers and Clerks Conference (dated 26 July 2012).

18 September 2012

1.9 The Committee discussed correspondence concerning further cuts to the Senate Department Budget, as conveyed in correspondence from the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Secretary of the Department of Finance and Deregulation.

1.10 The Committee expressed concern at the effect of continuing cuts to the Department’s budget over many years, and at the manner in which these further cuts had been calculated and conveyed to the Parliament. The Committee resolved that a report be drafted expressing these concerns.

1.11 In relation to the provision of information and communications technology services throughout the Parliament, the President briefed the Committee on proposals for the appointment of a Chief Information Officer and the establishment and composition of an ICT Advisory Board, and of the proposed role of the Appropriations and Staffing Committees and the equivalent committee of the House of Representatives, in the oversight of the work of the Chief Information Officer.

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1.12 The Committee noted that an amendment to the Standing Orders of the Senate would be needed to authorise these two committees to meet together.

19 September 2012

1.13 The Committee discussed a draft report expressing its significant concerns at proposed additional cuts to the Department’s budget. As a first step, the Committee unanimously agreed that a letter be drafted to the Minister for Finance and

Deregulation setting out these concerns in the terms set out in the draft report, and, in the event that no response, or an unsatisfactory response, was received, the Committee agreed to reconvene to further consider the matter.

22 November 2012

1.14 In relation to the Department's budget, the Committee considered correspondence from the Minister for Finance (dated 24 September 2012) in response to the Committee’s letter of 19 September 2012, and correspondence from the Presiding Officers to the Prime Minister (dated 9 October 2012) (copies attached).

1.15 In relation to financial matters generally, the Committee considered Quarterly Financial Reports from the Clerk as at 30 June and 30 September 2012, and correspondence from the President to the Prime Minister (dated 29 October 2012) outlining proposals for the 2013-14 Budget, and further noted that no response had yet been received to the President’s letter.

1.16 The Committee adopted a draft Report on ICT Governance and authorised its tabling in the Senate. The Committee agreed that the Manager of Government Business in the Senate would give notice of a motion to adopt the recommendation in the Report to amend Standing Order 19 which would enable the Committee to meet

with its counterpart Committee in the House of Representatives.2

1.17 The Committee also noted the Annual Report of the Audit and Evaluation Committee.

27 February 2013

1.18 In relation to the Department's budget, the Committee noted that, while there had been no formal response to the Committee's correspondence of September and October 2012, contact at Departmental officer level had indicated that the Committee’s representations in that correspondence had been persuasive.

1.19 In relation to financial matters generally, the Committee noted the Department's Quarterly Financial Report as at 31 December 2012, and correspondence from the Clerk to the President (dated 22 February 2013). This outlined additional costs to be borne by the Department in supporting the Joint Select Committee on

2 Journals of the Senate, No 127, 27 November 2012, p 3418.

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Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, as well as three previous proposals for modest funding increases to enable the Department to fully support the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, to provide legislative drafting services and to enable enhanced online publishing of Parliamentary and Government documents. The Committee endorsed the four proposals for additional funding and approved draft correspondence from the President to the Prime Minister seeking additional funding for these proposals.

15 May 2013

1.20 With regard to financial matters, the Committee:

 noted acceptance of all four proposals for additional expenditure;

 approved the 2013-14 Estimates for the Department of the Senate and agreed to report this to the Senate;

 considered and reported on correspondence from the Clerk to the President of the Senate concerning milestones for determining the Department's future budget (copies attached); and

 noted the Department's Quarterly Financial Report as at March 2013.

1.21 The Committee also approved the transfer of information and

communications technology functions and resources from the Senate Department to the Department of Parliamentary Services. A recommendation proposing this was included in the Committee's 55th Report and was adopted by the Senate on 16 May 2013.3

1.22 The President also advised the Committee of the status of Recommendation 1 in the report of the Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee on The Performance of the Department of Parliamentary Services.

1.23 The President advised that the Senate's House Committee would be convened to undertake oversight of the provision of services to Senators by the Department of Parliamentary Services and the Department of the Senate.

Ordinary annual services of the government

1.24 Given the provisions in section 53 of the Constitution, the Committee has kept the issue of items possibly inappropriately classified as ‘ordinary annual services of the government’ under active consideration over many years. For example, in its 50th report, tabled in June 2010, the Committee recommended:

3 Journals of the Senate, No 146, 16 May 2013, p 3968.

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 that the Senate reaffirm its constitutional right to amend proposed laws

appropriating revenue or moneys for expenditure on all matters not involving the ordinary annual services of the government; and

 that the President continue to draw to the attention of the Finance Minister

any items of expenditure which appeared to have been inappropriately included in the appropriation bill for the ordinary annual services of the government.

1.25 As a result, lists of such items of expenditure have been regularly provided to the Finance Minister.

1.26 In 2012, the High Court handed down its decision in the case of Williams v Commonwealth [2012] HCA 23 - the 'school chaplains case'. This decision has cast doubt on the validity of all programs involving direct payments to persons other than a State or Territory, whose only authority was the appropriation acts. In view of the legislative response to the Williams decision (the Financial Framework Legislation Amendment Act (No. 3) 2012), the Committee intends to consider this matter further with a view to ensuring that the Senate's constitutional rights are not affected.

Senator the Hon John Hogg

Chairman

June 2013

COMMITTEE CORRESPONDENCE