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Appropriations and Staffing - Senate Standing Committee - Reports - First, dated May 1982


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The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia

SENATE STA N D IN G COM M ITTEE O N A PPRO PRIATIO NS AND STAFFING

First Report

M ay 1982

Presented and ordered to be printed 27 May 1982

Parliamentary Paper No. 135/1982

Parliamentary Paper No. 135/1982

The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia

SENATE STANDING COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS AND STAFFING

First Report

May 1982

The Commonwealth Government Printer Canberra 1982

© Commonwealth of Australia 1982

Printed by Authority by the Commonwealth Government Printer

MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE

* The President, Senator the Hon. H. W. Young (Chairman)

The Deputy-President, Senator the Hon. Douglas McClelland

* t The Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator the Hon. Sir John Carrick, K.C.M.G.

* The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator J. N. Button

Senator D. S. Jessop

Senator C. V. J. Mason

Senator P. E. Rae

* ex officio members t The Minister for Social Security, Senator the Hon. F. M. Chaney, represented Senator Carrick at the meet­ ing of the Committee on 18 May 1982.

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THE SENATE

STANDING COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS AND STAFFING

FIRST REPORT

The Standing Committee on Appropriations and Staffing has the honour to make its First Report to the Senate.

Establishment of the Committee 1. The Committee was appointed by the Senate on 25 March 1982 in a resolution which puts into effect one of the major recommendations of the Senate Select Com­ mittee on Parliament’s Appropriations and Staffing. The following paragraphs of that resolution set out the functions of the Committee.

(2) That the Committee inquire into: (a) proposals for the Annual Estimates and the Additional Estimates for the Senate; (b) proposals to vary the staff organisational structure of the Senate, and

staffing and recruitment policies; and (c) such other matters as are referred to it by the Senate. (3) That the Committee: (a) in relation to the Estimates:

(i) determine the amounts for inclusion in the Parliamentary Appropri­ ation Bills for the Annual Estimates and the Additional Estimates; and (ii) report to the Senate upon its determinations prior to the consider­

ation by the Senate of the related Parliamentary Appropriation Bill; (b) in relation to staffing: (i) make such recommendations to the President as it sees fit, and (ii) report to the Senate on any matter it considers necessary; and (c) make an annual report to the Senate on the operations of the Senate’s ap­

propriations and staffing, and related matters.

2. The Committee has met, has made some decisions in relation to its procedures and its future course of action, and has considered the draft estimates for the Department of the Senate for 1982-83.

Procedures of the Committee 3. The Committee has determined for itself a framework of procedures, which will de­ velop as the Committee progresses. There remains a range of matters relating to the Committee’s procedures yet to be determined. 4. In relation to the estimates, it is intended that the Committee will receive the draft main and additional estimates, as prepared by the Department of the Senate, will exam­ ine those estimates and receive explanations from the Clerk of the Senate and other of­ ficers at meetings open to Senators who are not members of the Committee, and will

then determine the estimates to be submitted by the President to the Minister for Finance for inclusion in the Bill containing the appropriations for the Parliament. In re­ sponse to the Select Committee’s report, the Government has agreed to include appro­ priations for the Parliament in a separate appropriation Bill. The Committee will re­ port to the Senate upon its consideration of the estimates, and the Senate will be able to consider the Committee’s determinations when the Bill comes before the Senate.

5. In relation to staffing, the Committee intends to review the staffing structure of the Department and to examine any proposals, whether from the Department of the

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Senate or from Senators, for changes in the staffing structure. The Committee’s con­ sideration of these matters will be undertaken at meetings open to other Senators, and the Committee will then make recommendations to the President, who has responsi­ bility for staffing matters. The Committee will also report to the Senate from time to

time on its consideration of staffing.

6. Before considering estimates, the Committee intends to seek from the Government any guidelines relating to overall economic management and the Government’s econ­ omic objectives which the Government would wish the Committee to consider. The Minister for Finance has been asked whether the Government wishes to indicate any

such guidelines in relation to the 1982-83 estimates. It is not expected that the Govern­ ment will involve itself in the allocation of funds to items within the estimates. The Committee’s consideration and determination of the estimates will be based upon the Committee’s view of the real needs of the Senate and its Committee system, taking into

account the overall economic management objectives of the government of the day.

Consideration of 1982-83 Estimates for the Department of the Senate 7. At the time of the appointment of the Committee, draft estimates for 1982-83 for the Department of the Senate had already been prepared and forwarded to the Depart­ ment of Finance, and the time for finalisation of the estimates for inclusion in the ap­

propriation Bills was drawing near. The Committee therefore was not able to begin its review of the estimates at an early stage of their preparation. It is intended that in future the Committee will begin its examination of the estimates when they are still in the formalisation stage, and when there is adequate time to consider them in detail and

make major modifications if necessary.

8. The Committee intends as soon as possible to undertake a review of the staffing structure of the Department of the Senate, such review to be based on the Committee’s assessment of the needs of the Senate and its Committee system. The conclusions which

the Committee will draw from this review will necessarily affect the size and structure of the estimates of the Department. The Committee considers that it would be pointless to make major changes to the 1982-83 estimates until this review had been undertaken. The Committee’s agreement to those estimates is therefore subject to the proviso that

the appropriations for the Department of the Senate for 1982-83 may need to be altered to a greater extent than is normal by additional appropriations as a result of the Committee’s recommendations, if those recommendations are adopted by the Senate.

9. The Committee has examined the draft estimates for 1982-83 and has approved of them for inclusion in the Parliamentary Appropriation Bill, subject to the proviso of the preceding paragraph, and subject to some adjustments made in the course of the Com­ mittee’s deliberations.

10. There are two of those adjustments of which the Senate should be aware, arising from the Committee’s deliberations. The Committee has asked the President to attempt to come to some arrangement with the Attorney-General whereby private Senators wishing to present private Senators’ Bills would be able to have those Bills drafted by

the Office of Parliamentary Counsel with reasonable expedition. Due to the inability of that Office to draft Senators’ Bills within a time which those Senators considered reasonable, and due to the consequent burden imposed upon the Department of the Senate by the drafting of those Bills, Mr President included in the draft estimates a sum of $15 000 for payment of a trained draftsman to draft private Senators’ Bills. The

Committee has asked that expenditure of this money not be undertaken until the out­ come of this further attempt to gain reasonable access to the Office of Parliamentary Counsel. Secondly, the Committee has included in the estimates a sum to finance the operations of the Select Committee on Industrial Relations Legislation. That Com­

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mittee had not been appointed when the draft estimates were prepared and the Com­ mittee considered that it should not be financed from the sum normally held in reserve to cover future select committees.

11. The Committee received detailed oral explanations of the estimates from officers of the Senate Department, and obtained further written information in relation to a number of matters. The Committee records its appreciation of the assistance given by Senate officers. Due to the fact that the Committee came somewhat late upon the scene, the only written explanations available on the estimates were those normally provided to the Department of Finance. The Senate Department will in future provide much more detailed analyses and explanations of the estimates when they are laid be­ fore the Committee. Such detailed written material will be necessary for the Committee to properly perform its function of determining the estimates.

12. Mr President has undertaken to consult with the Committee on any adjustments which may be required to be made to the estimates during the winter long adjournment, and, in particular, on any requests made by the Government for changes in the esti­ mates. Major staffing matters arising in periods when the Committee is not sitting will also be dealt with in this way.

Role of Senate Estimates Committees 13. The Committee considers that the Senate should give consideration to whether an Estimates Committee should examine parliamentary appropriations when those appro­ priations have been examined by this Committee. It may appear to be unnecessary duplication for an Estimates Committee to conduct the same detailed examination of the estimates as has already been undertaken by this Committee, and there may be little point in an Estimates Committee reporting to the Senate on the estimates when the Senate already has the report of this Committee to assist its consideration of those esti­ mates. Alternatively, the Senate may take the view that no area of public expenditure, however processed in its preparation, should be immune from examination under the estimates procedure. For the present, although Parliament is not part of the ordinary annual services of government, it is suggested that in the next budget session the Senate estimates be referred to the appropriate Senate Estimates Committee.

Conclusion 14. The Committee believes that when it is fully operational and has conducted its re­ view of the Senate’s staffing, the Committee will assist the Senate to obtain appropri­ ations and staffing which properly reflect the operations of the Senate and of its Committees.

d o u g l a s McCl e l l a n d

D eputy-C hairm an

DISSENT BY SENATOR MASON

I believe that the funds available to the Senate Department are inadequate to enable the Senate and its Committees to properly carry out their functions, and therefore I dis­ sent from the approval given to the draft estimates for 1982-83 by the Committee.

COLIN MASON

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SENATE STANDING COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS AND STAFFING

MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS

No. 1

TUESDAY, 18 MAY 1982

1. MEETING The Committee met in private session at 8.00 p.m. in Senate Committee Room No. 1. Mr President (Senator the Honourable H. W. Young) took the Chair.

2. PROCEDURES OF THE COMMITTEE Mr President indicated that the Department of the Senate had provided as secretary to the Committee an officer who is not usually involved in appropriations and staffing matters, and that this officer would provide the normal secretarial services to the Com­

mittee. The Clerk of the Senate would be the principal adviser to the Committee on ap­ propriations and staffing matters, and other officers of the Department would be avail­ able to provide the Committee with information on estimates and staffing. Mr President drew attention to a document, based on the report and papers of the

Select Committee on Parliament’s Appropriations and Staffing, setting out proposed procedures for the Committee (copy attached to these minutes). Mr President indicated that this document was not intended to lay down permanent rules but to suggest some simple guidelines which would need to be modified and developed as the

Committee progressed. The Committee agreed to adopt the statement of procedures. It was further agreed that the following points be added to that statement: (1) The Committee should seek from the Government any guidelines relating to overall economic management which the Government would wish to make

known to the Committee and would wish the Committee to consider when considering the estimates of the Department of the Senate. (2) It is expected that the Government will not involve itself in considering intra­ budgetary allocation within the estimates of the Department.

(3) The Committee’s examination of the estimates will be based on the Com­ mittee’s view of the real needs of the Senate and of its Committee system. It was agreed that Mr President write to the Minister for Finance, in accordance with the Committee’s decision, and ask whether there are any guidelines relating to the Government’s economic objectives which the Government would wish the Committee to consider when considering the estimates of the Department of the Senate.

Senator Chaney stated that he wished his position in relation to the Committee to be understood and recorded. He would wish the Committee to accept that he would be participating in the deliberations and decisions of the Committee in good faith as a member of the Committee, but it may be necessary for him to reserve his position, as a

Minister, in relation to the estimates agreed to by the Committee. The Government may not necessarily agree to the estimates in total as determined by the Committee or to individual items within those estimates, and may assert a right to express a view in re­ lation to the allocation of funds to particular items within the estimates, and as a Minis­ ter he would be bound to support the Government’s decisions in respect of those mat­

ters. The Committee accepted and agreed to record Senator Chaney’s statement. Senator Mason indicated that he wished to reserve his right to comment on the esti­ mates of the Department of the Senate as he thought fit. It was indicated that Senators

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could not reveal the private deliberations of the Committee, but that a dissent could be added to the Committee’s report and the estimates could be debated, in conjunction with the Committee’s report, when they come before the Senate. Mr President indicated that estimates and staffing matters would arise for his con­

sideration and decision during the parliamentary recess. He undertook to consult with the Committee on any major modifications required to the estimates of the Department of the Senate, and particularly any major requests from the Government for changes in the estimates, and on any major staffing matters which may arise. The Committee agreed that any matters arising during the recess be dealt with on this basis.

Mr President indicated that he had anticipated that the Committee may wish to examine the estimates of the Department of the Senate at this meeting, and that he had therefore sent a notice to all Senators informing them of the meeting, so as to allow Senators who wished to do so to exercise their right to participate in the deliberations of the Committee.

It was agreed that the Committee should in the future undertake a review of the staff structure of the Department of the Senate, in the context of the requirements of the Senate and its Committee system, and that any determinations that the Committee makes in respect of the estimates of the Department for 1982-83 be subject to the pro­ viso that those estimates may need revision as a result of the Committee’s review of staffing.

It was agreed that the Committee proceed to examine the estimates for 1982-83 of the Department of the Senate at this meeting.

3. ESTIMATES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE SENATE The Clerk of the Senate and other officers of the Senate Department attended, and the Committee examined the draft estimates of the Department for 1982-83 as supplied to the Department of Finance.

Officers undertook to supply additional information requested by the Committee. The Committee agreed with the draft estimates, subject to the following changes suggested in the course of the examination: (a) an additional amount to be included in Division 101/2/02 for an additional

select committee, in the light of the appointment of the Select Committee on Industrial Relations Legislation (this amount to be less than the notional sum of $7500 provided for additional select committees if that appears to be appro­ priate); and (b) Division 101/2/03 was reduced by the estimated cost of the overseas study

program, which it is expected will have to be again deferred in 1982-83. It was agreed that, before Mr President authorises the proposed expenditure for the purpose of a consultant to undertake the drafting of private Senators' Bills, he should write to the Attorney-General to seek an arrangement whereby an officer of the Office of Parliamentary Counsel would be made available to draft all private Senators’ Bills and to give priority to those Bills.

The Clerk of the Senate and the officers advising the Committee in relation to the estimates then withdrew.

4. REPORT TO THE SENATE AND FUTURE PROCEEDINGS It was agreed that a draft report to the Senate on the Committee’s consideration of the estimates be considered at the next meeting. It was agreed that the Committee consider at the next meeting the appropriate role

of the Estimates Committees in respect of estimates of the Department of the Senate which have been examined and determined by the Committee.

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It was further agreed that the Committee consider at the next meeting whether the Committee should formally authorise the Minister attending the Committee’s deliber­ ations to report to the Government upon those deliberations.

Senator Mason indicated his belief that the funds available to the Senate Depart­ ment were inadequate to enable the Senate and its Committees to properly carry out their functions, and that therefore he dissented from the approval given to the draft es­ timates for 1982-83 by the Committee.

5. NEXT MEETING The Committee agreed to meet again on Tuesday next, 25 May 1982, at 8.15 p.m.

6. ADJOURNMENT The Committee adjourned at 12.03 a.m., Wednesday, 19 May 1982.

7. ATTENDANCE Present: All members of the Committee and Senator Harradine.

d o u g l a s McC l e l l a n d

D eputy-C hairm an 25.5.82

STANDING COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS AND STAFFING

PROPOSED PROCEDURES

(Attachment to Minutes of Proceedings No. 1)

It was envisaged that most meetings of the Committee would be held in private, although the resolution of appointment allows for public meetings. It was suggested that the following procedures be followed: In relation to the estimates, both Budget and Additional, the proposals of the Clerk

of the Senate for the Senate and its Committees would be submitted to the proposed Committee through the President as Chairman. A program of deliberative meetings of the Committee would then follow, open to all interested Senators, during which the Clerk’s estimates would be examined, added

to, deleted or reduced, as thought necessary. In addition, other proposals from Senators or groups of Senators could be considered for inclusion in the estimates of the Senate. The estimates as finally agreed upon by the Committee would then be submitted by the President to the Minister for Finance for inclusion, without modification, in a sep­

arate Parliamentary Appropriation Bill. The Committee would then prepare a report covering its deliberations concerning the estimates for use by the Senate when considering the Parliamentary Appropriation Bill, after its receipt from the House of Representatives.

In relation to staffing, the Committee would examine proposals seeking to vary the organisational structure of the Senate and its Committees, and staffing and recruitment policies. These proposals would emanate, according to circumstances, from Senators, groups

of Senators, officers of the Senate or even from the Senate itself.

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The Committee would hold deliberative meetings, which would be open to all interested Senators. The Committee would then make recommendations to the President, who is vested with recommendatory powers under the existing section 9 of the Public Service Act or approval powers under the amended section 9 as proposed by the Select Committee.

Provision is also made for the Committee to report to the Senate on any matter it considers necessary.

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