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Posts tagged as “Supply”

Turnbull Recalls Parliament On April 18 And Moves Budget To May 3; Threatens Double Dissolution On July 2 If Bills Not Passed

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has dramatically seized the political initiative in his confrontation with the Senate by advising the Governor-General to recall Parliament on April 18 and threatening a double dissolution election on July 2 if industrial legislation is not passed.

Turnbull made his announcement at a 10.30am press conference. He said he had advised the Governor-General under Section 5 of the Constitution to recall Parliament. This overrides a motion passed by the Senate on Friday that prevented a recall before May 10.

  • Watch Turnbull

Parliament will prorogued on April 15 and then summoned again for a new session on April 18. Prorogation clears the Notice Paper.

Clive Palmer And Andrew Wilkie Vote Against Budget Bills

Clive Palmer and Andrew Wilkie were the only members of the House of Representatives to vote against three Appropriation Bills late today.

WilkiePalmer, the member for Fairfax in Queensland, and Wilkie, the member for Denison in Tasmania, voted against Appropriation Bill No.1, Appropriation Bill No.2 and Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill No.1. The first two bills constitute a significant proportion of the Budget, including the “ordinary annual services” of the government, such as public service salaries. They used to be known as the Supply Bills.

In a bizarre media statement, Wilkie called on the Senate to block the Appropriation Bills as a means of forcing the government “back to the drawing board to prepare a fair budget”. Wilkie argued that blocking the bills would not cause a constitutional crisis because pension payments are covered by Standing Appropriations, “and Clive and I did not move to block the other Appropriation Bills”.

Wilkie said: ““If the Senate blocks the key Appropriation Bills the Government could give itself time to remedy the Budget. Interim budgets were implemented in 1984, 1987 and 1996. And even if an election was triggered then so what?”

Busting The Budget: Greens MP Condones Blocking Of Appropriation Bills By Senate

A NSW Greens MP, David Shoebridge, has advocated a parliamentary process that could see the Senate block the government’s Appropriation Bills, a tactic not employed since the constitutional crisis of 1975 that resulted in the dismissal of the Whitlam government.

ShoebridgeShoebridge today released a paper titled: “Busting The Budget – How to Stop the Abbott Budget”. The former barrister, who has been a member of the NSW Legislative Council since 2010, says the Senate could demand amendments to the Budget, as allowed under Section 53 of the Constitution.

Referring to Section 53, Shoebridge says: “In other words, the Senate can demand the Supply Bill be amended by refusing to pass it unless amendments are made. It can provide those amendments to the House of Representatives and force the Abbott government to either accept the amendments or see the budget voted down.”

Shoebridge says most functions of government would be able to continue, even if the Senate refused to pass the two Appropriation Bills. He says public servants are contracted to the Commonwealth and would receive the “necessary wages payments in due course”. He says: “The effect would be to delay the payment of public servants for the period of any impasse in the Senate.”

Shoebridge says the Senate can “choose the grounds on which to fight the budget” by refusing to agree to cuts to local government, social welfare, education, health and the environment. He says this will “force the Abbott government to either agree to these fair amendments or see its entire budget defeated with the consequential shut down of much of the government”.

What is Appropriation?

Governments cannot spend money without the approval of Parliament. Section 83 of the Constitution says that “no money shall be drawn from the Treasury of the Commonwealth except under appropriation made by law”.

Supply And The Budget

In the past week we have seen the presentation to Parliament of the Federal Government’s budget.

What happened?

Firstly, a number of constitutional provisions are relevant:

  • AppropriationSection 83 of the Australian Constitution states that “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury of the Commonwealth except under appropriation made by law.” This means that even though the government was elected eight months ago, it does not have the right to simply spend public money as it likes. All money must be appropriated by the Parliament. This is commonly referred to as Supply.The tradition has developed whereby Appropriation and Supply bills are presented twice yearly to the Parliament for its approval. Hence, the survival of any government depends on the twice-yearly approval by Parliament of its Appropriation Bills known as the Budget (May-June) and its Appropriation Bills known as Supply (October-November).

  • Initiation by the House of RepresentativesSection 53 of the Constitution states that “Proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys, or imposing taxation, shall not originate in the Senate.” This fulfills the political value of the People’s House retaining control over taxation. The House of Representatives is popularly elected, whereas the Senate represents each State equally, regardless of population. It is for this reason that elections for the House of Representatives, not the Senate, determine who shall form government.Even though the Appropriation bills must be initiated by the House of Representatives, they must also be passed by the Senate. Senate 53 says: “Except as provided in this section, the Senate shall have equal power with the House of Representatives in respect of all proposed laws.”Section 53 further states: “The Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation, or proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government.” It also says: “The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.” By convention, the Senate does not reject Appropriation or Supply bills, since this would have the effect of bringing down the government. This convention was broken in spectacular fashion in 1975, resulting in the Governor-General’s dismissal of the Whitlam Government.

  • Ordinary Annual Services of GovernmentSection 54 of the Constitution states that: “The proposed law which appropriates revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government shall deal only with such appropriation.”Ordinary annual services includes things such as the daily operational costs, including salaries of public servants, members of the armed services, and other day-to-day expenses of government. It also includes a large proportion of social welfare payments and other government programs.The effect of Section 54 is that the government presents three Appropriation Bills to the House. An agreement between the Senate and the House in 1965 determined the allocation of items classed as for the ordinary annual services of the government and those that were not. A separate bill to fund the operations of the Parliament itself is also submitted.

Hence, on May 14, 2002, the Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, introduced three bills into the House of Representatives. The total appropriation of the bills is $49,732,888,000 ($49.7 billion).

  1. Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2002-2003 – this bill is described as “A Bill for an Act to appropriate money out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the ordinary annual services of the Government, and for related purposes”.The bill appropriates $43,445,965,000 ($43.4 billion). This is broken down amongst various government departments as follows:

    Appropriation Bill (No.1) 2002-2003
    Department Amount $
    Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry 450,388,000
    Attorney-Generals 1,779,689,000
    Communications, Information Technology and the Arts 2,393,837,000
    Defence 18,235,532,000
    Veterans Affairs 416,773,000
    Education, Science and Training 2,095,139,000
    Employment and Workplace Relations 1,674,687,000
    Environment and Heritage 515,815,000
    Family and Community Services 3,095,628,000
    Finance and Administration 458,570,000
    Foreign Affairs and Trade 2,658,605,000
    Health and Ageing 3,019,484,000
    Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs 2,261,872,000
    Industry, Tourism and Resources 853,143,000
    Prime Minister and Cabinet 164,842,000
    Transport and Regional Services 605,532,000
    Treasury 2,766,429,000
    Total 43,445,965,000

  2. Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2002-2003 – this bill is described as “A Bill for an Act to appropriate money out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for certain expenditure, and for related purposes”.The Budget Papers say that this bill appropriates money for

    • grants to the States under Section 96]/popup] of the Constitution and payments to the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory;
    • administered expenses for new outcomes;
    • departmental equity injections, loans and previous year’s outputs; and
    • administered assets and liabilities.

    The bill appropriates $6,120,821,000 ($6.1 billion). This is broken down amongst various government departments as follows:

    Appropriation Bill (No.2) 2002-2003
    Department Amount $
    Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry 158,193,000
    Attorney-Generals 104,614,000
    Communications, Information Technology and the Arts 113,945,000
    Defence 1,315,415,000
    Veterans Affairs 20,391,000
    Education, Science and Training 124,688,000
    Employment and Workplace Relations 12,950,000
    Environment and Heritage 9,390,000
    Family and Community Services 1,970,488,000
    Finance and Administration 78,507,000
    Foreign Affairs and Trade 231,869,000
    Health and Ageing 1,138,525,000
    Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs 87,237,000
    Industry, Tourism and Resources 107,950,000
    Prime Minister and Cabinet 734,000
    Transport and Regional Services 411,946,000
    Treasury 233,979,000
    Total 6,120,821,000

  3. Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2002-2003 – this bill is described as “A Bill for an Act to appropriate money out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for expenditure in relation to the Parliamentary Departments, and for related purposes”.The bill appropriates $166,102,000 ($166.1 million). This is broken down as follows:

    Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No.1) 2002-2003
    Department Amount $
    Senate 29,369,000
    House of Representatives 29,938,000
    Joint House Department 44,817,000
    Parliamentary Library 17,522,000
    Parliamentary Reporting Staff 44,456,000
    Total 166,102,000

What About The Rest Of The Money?

A second version of the three Appropriation Bills outlined above will be presented to the Parliament in the Spring Session in October-November. Together, the six bills account for around 30% of government expenditure for the year.

The remaining 70% of expenditure is funded by special appropriations in particular legislation presented to the Parliament by the relevant ministers. “Special appropriations provide funds for specified purposes, for example, to finance a particular project or programme.”

The current controversy about changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme does not affect the passage of the Appropriation Bills. Separate legislation will deal with these changes. These changes may be rejected in the Senate by the combined forces of the ALP and the Australian Democrats.
Malcolm Farnsworth
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