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Friday, 31 May 1996
Page: 1533


Senator BEAHAN (President of the Senate)(11.46 a.m.) —Senator, that is subject to discussion. Certainly the correspondence to date would seem to indicate that that is the case, that it is simply two committees and no more will be funded. That is, though, subject to discussions. It has been taken up by the Appropriations and Staffing Committee, and I have written to the minister on behalf of the Appropriations and Staffing Committee.

The other matter raised as an additional concern of ours is that we have been asked to make submissions for, for example, the funding of the parliamentary officers class four to each pair of legislative and general purpose committees as part of a global budget for all five departments, and we have made the point that that is constitutionally inappropriate, that the chamber departments should be making separate submissions and should be separately funded and separately considered.

That point has also been made, as has the concern that the Senate has a set process for dealing with all these budget matters, and that process involves agreement of the Appropriations and Staffing Committee to any proposals put forward by me and then negotiation through the Minister for Finance—who appears before ERC on our behalf—by the Appropriations and Staffing Committee directly with the Minister for Finance. That is something we have had constant trouble with under all governments, and it is something that we have made a very strong plea on in the letter we have sent to the current minister.