Report on Performance:Outcome 3

Outcome 3: Support for parliamentarians, others with entitlements and organisations as approved by government through the delivery of entitlements and targeted assistance

Finance provides support for current parliamentarians and their staff employed under the Members of Parliament Staff Act 1984 (MOP(S) Act), and former senators and members, through the management of entitlements and provision of electorate office accommodation, ICT and transport services. Finance also provides secretariat support for the Australian Political Exchange Program.

Important changes were made to the entitlements of parliamentarians in 2009‑10, including a reduction in the printing entitlement and an increase in transparency. Finance was responsible for implementing the changes and continues to have a key role helping senators and members comply with the new rules. As a further part of the entitlements reform, Finance also assisted an independent committee in a broader review of parliamentary entitlements. The committee’s recommendations are being considered by the government.

Finance improved the level of service provided to its clients and its environmental performance by commissioning TelePresence conference rooms to reduce the reliance on air travel. Further environmental gains have been achieved by contracting for the supply of Greenpower® to electorate offices and expanding COMCAR’s hybrid vehicle fleet. COMCAR continued to provide a high quality transport service to senators and members and other clients, including attendees of the Pacific Islands Forum in Cairns in August 2009.

A number of Finance’s significant achievements are outlined below. Further information and commentary on Finance’s performance against deliverables and key performance indicators (KPIs) for this outcome is available on page 90 (Table 7) and the resource statement is on page 97 (Table 8).

Services to senators, members and their staff

Implementation of reforms to parliamentary entitlements

On 8 September 2009, the government announced a number of reforms to parliamentarians’ entitlements in response to the Australian National Audit Office’s report, Administration of Parliamentarians’ Entitlements by the Department of Finance and Deregulation, including:

  • a 25 per cent reduction in the printing entitlement, from $100,000 to $75,000 per annum for members and $16,667 to $12,500 per annum for senators
  • prohibiting the printing of 'how to vote' cards
  • combining the printing entitlement and the communications allowance entitlements into a single printing and communications entitlement
  • providing the option for senators and members to have the Department of Finance and Deregulation vet material they propose to fund from their printing and communications entitlement, and a mandatory requirement for funded items to be checked for compliance against the entitlement
  • capping the office requisites and stationery entitlement
  • publishing details of items purchased by senators and members under the publications entitlement
  • expanding the public reporting of entitlements expenditure to cover all expenditure of senators, members, former parliamentarians and family members, on entitlements administered by Finance
  • referring broader matters for future reform to the parliamentary entitlements framework to an independent committee.

The Parliamentary Entitlements Regulations 1997 were amended and changes to entitlements came into effect from 1 October 2009. The optional vetting service and mandatory post check for material printed under the printing and communications entitlement also began on 1 October 2009.

On 24 June 2010, three reports: Parliamentarians’ Expenditure Paid by the Department of Finance and Deregulation; Former Parliamentarians’ Expenditure Paid by the Department of Finance and Deregulation; and Parliamentarians’ Overseas Study Travel Reports were tabled in both Houses of Parliament. These reports covered the period 1 July 2009 to 31 December 2009, and included information on:

  • office facilities costs
  • office administrative costs, such as office consumables, services, printing and communications and publications
  • travel allowances and travel expenses for both domestic and overseas travel, including family travel costs
  • overseas study travel reports from senators and members.

These reports, together with supporting information (including details of items purchased by senators and members under the publications entitlement), were also published on the department’s website, www.finance.gov.au.

Committee for the Review of Parliamentary Entitlements

On 8 September 2009, the government announced a review of the parliamentary entitlements framework and referred a number of matters to an independent committee established for this purpose. Finance assisted the committee and provided it with secretariat support.  PM&C and the Attorney-General’s Department also contributed staff to the committee’s secretariat.

The committee provided its report to the government on 9 April 2010. At the time of publication, the government was considering the committee’s recommendations. Any public release of the report will be a decision for the government.

Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement 2010-2012

During 2009-10, a new, two-year Enterprise Agreement (EA) covering all MOP(S) Act employees was finalised. The new EA is the first agreement to cover all MOP(S) Act employees, including those employed at senior levels (Senior Executive Service-equivalent). A ballot of MOP(S) Act employees, which concluded on 12 April 2010, resulted in 85 per cent of votes in support of the EA. Following approval by Fair Work Australia, the EA commenced operation on 29 April 2010.

The EA was negotiated and implemented in accordance with the requirements of the Fair Work Act 2009 and the Australian Government Employment Bargaining Framework. The negotiations were conducted by Finance on behalf of the Special Minister of State. Employees were represented by a staff representative group (11 members were drawn from the staff of all political parties on a proportional basis and the twelfth member was a senior staff representative), the Community and Public Sector Union, the Australian Services Union and the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance.

The EA provides for salary increases of three per cent per year for two years. The EA also includes some significant simplification of the MOP(S) Act employment framework by combining some classifications, and greater transparency by incorporating the provisions of a number of previously separate determinations made under the MOP(S) Act.

Establishment of TelePresence facilities in Commonwealth offices

Finance is responsible for implementing a national teleconferencing system using Cisco’s TelePresence technology. The National TelePresence System delivers a high-quality, secure, ‘immersive’ video conferencing capability for Commonwealth, state and territory governments over an existing high-speed, secure Australian Government communications network. The intention is to reduce the number of face-to-face meetings – such as the Council of Australian Governments and Ministerial Council meetings – thereby improving productivity and reducing travel costs and associated carbon emissions.

By the end of June 2010, 18 TelePresence rooms were available across Australia. TelePresence rooms were commissioned in each Commonwealth Parliament Office and Australian Parliament House in Canberra. State and territory governments are also installing TelePresence rooms; six were completed at the end of June 2010 and the remaining three are expected to be completed by July 2010. There are also TelePresence facilities in Finance and PM&C.

Supply of green power to electorate offices

Following approval from the Special Minister of State, Finance has contracted the Australian CO2 Exchange (trading as Ark Climate) to provide 20 per cent of the electricity consumed by electorate offices as Greenpower®. A restricted request for tender (RFT) for this purchase was released on 7 June 2010 and closed on 21 June 2010. One compliant offer was received and, following an evaluation, the offer was accepted. The contract was signed on 30 June 2010 and is for the three year period 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2013.

Preparations for the 2010 Federal Election

Prior to each federal election, Finance prepares information for senators and members and their employees on entitlement issues that may arise as a result of the poll. Finance began preparation for the 2010 election in January 2010. This was well in advance of previous practice which was to wait until the election date was announced. This early start allowed more timely preparation and circulation of the information required. The information took the form of question and answer documents, complemented by tailored advice to all senators and members and their employees, and was provided on the dissolution of the House of Representatives.

VIP hire car services

Through COMCAR, Finance provides VIP car-with-driver services to a wide range of clients including federal parliamentarians, the federal judiciary, holders of high public office and official guests of the Australian Government. Over 70,000 services were provided in 2009-10 including the parliamentary shuttle service.

In August 2009, COMCAR provided transport for the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Cairns, servicing 17 forum leaders and their delegations, observer groups and other invited guests. Fifty-six different groups were assisted during the event, including the media and official spouses. Forty COMCAR drivers and ten COMCAR supervisors were located in Cairns between 31 July and 9 August. COMCAR transported 25 vehicles from Canberra to Cairns for the meeting.

Finance also supported 31 VIP visits during 2009-10: eight visits by heads of state/government; 12 visits by other guests of government; 10 official visits by foreign dignitaries/delegations; and a royal visit. These included visits by His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales KG from 19 to 21 January, the President of Indonesia, His Excellency Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, from 9 to 11 March, and the Vice President of the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency Mr Xi Jinping, from 19 to 24 June.

On 26 March 2010, Finance approved funding for the replacement of COMCAR’s electronic reservation system (RISCC). RISCC is COMCAR’s core business system and has been in place since 1993. An expression of interest (EOI) was released to industry in April 2010, with COMCAR receiving eight compliant responses. The results of the EOI are being used to formulate a formal RFT for release in late September/early October 2010. It is expected that the new system will be in place by November 2011.

Twelve hybrid Toyota Camrys have been added to the fleet following a successful trial on the parliamentary shuttle service. This brings the total fleet of hybrid vehicles to 16.

COMCAR renewed leases on its existing premises in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne during 2009-10.

Preparations to mark the centenary of the Commonwealth car-with-driver services on 11 August 2010 have been undertaken throughout the year. In acknowledgement of this significant anniversary, COMCAR completed a history of its services over the last one hundred years.

Performance information and resources for Outcome 3

During 2009-10 Finance met the majority of the performance targets for the deliverables and KPIs that contributed to Outcome 3.

Deliverables and KPIs published in the Portfolio Budget Statement 2009-10 were revised to better reflect the achievement of high quality advice and services under this outcome. Applying these measurements across the last three years confirms that targets continue to be achieved, with the exception this year of one monthly report on entitlement usage, which was delayed by one day due to an emergency building evacuation.

The tables below provide a detailed assessment of the department’s performance against 2009-10 Portfolio Budget Statement Outcome 3 performance targets.

Table 7: Performance information for Outcome 3

Outcome 3: Support for parliamentarians, others with entitlements and organisations as approved by government through the delivery of entitlements and targeted assistance.
Program 3.1: Ministerial and Parliamentary Services

Program Objective
This program contributes to the outcome through the provision of, and advice on, the entitlements of ministers, senators, members, office-holders and former parliamentarians and their respective staff (employed under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984 [MOP(S)]). This program also provides VIP hire car services for senators, members and other office holders. Under this program Finance provides the following support services 1:

  • Electorate and ministerial support costs
  • Car-with-driver services for parliamentarians and other eligible beneficiaries
  • Elements of COMCAR’s operations that are directly related to the delivery of VIP hire car services
  • A transport and luggage service for guests of the Australian Government
  • Australian Political Exchange Program.
Deliverables Key Performance Indicators Results

Provision of handbooks, circulars, intranet and other reference materials to senators, members and their employees.

Senators, members and their staff are informed of their entitlements.

The Senators and Members’ Entitlements handbook was available to senators, members and their employees online throughout 2009-10. The handbook was updated regularly to reflect entitlement changes. Senators, members and their employees were alerted to entitlement changes through the provision of advice in the form of circulars issued by Finance and the Special Minister of State.

For the first time, procedural rules, determinations and guidelines made by the Special Minister of State that relate to the parliamentary entitlements framework were made publicly available in 2009-10 through publication on the Finance internet site.

Contracts providing property management services, travel services, information technology, office requisites, HR services for MOP(S) Act employees and other externally provided services relating to the parliamentary entitlements framework.

Contracted services are delivered in an effective, efficient and timely manner.

Occupational health and safety and employee support services provided to MOP(S) Act employees under contracts with Konekt, Davidson Trahaire Corpsych, Talent2 and the Australian Red Cross were fulfilled satisfactorily. Each of these contracts has been extended by 12 months. United Group Services continued to provide satisfactory property management services under the contracted service level agreement. The contract with Hogg Robinson Australia provided satisfactory travel management services, in accordance with performance measures stipulated in the contract. Contracts with Telstra Corporation for ICT services and with Pitney Bowes for postage meters continued to provide support to senators and members in a satisfactory manner. Carroll and Richardson – Flagworld continued to satisfactorily provide Australian flags under the Constituents’ Request Program to senators and members. OfficeMax provided office requisites to electorate offices, in accordance with performance measures stipulated in the contract.

Payment of costs in respect of entitlements to third party providers.

95% of payments to third party providers are made within agreed timeframes.

Achieved.

Development of an employment framework for MOP(S) Act employees.

Successful negotiation and implementation of employment framework for MOP(S) Act employees.

The Commonwealth Members of Parliament Staff Enterprise Agreement 2010-2012 commenced operation on 29 April 2010. In a ballot of MOP(S) Act employees, 85% of the votes supported the agreement.

Provision of HR services for MOP(S) Act employees, including a professional development program, employee support services and OH&S services.

Effective management of employee support services and OH&S claims for MOP(S) Act employees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Professional development program for MOP(S) Act employees improves their key skills, is well received by participants, and meets the needs of clients.

Employee support and Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) services
  • A number of new initiatives were introduced in 2009‑10 to enhance the management of employee support and OH&S services provided for MOP(S) Act employees. Uptake of existing services continued to grow.
  • An OH&S site officer program commenced in July 2009. As of 30 June 2010, 74 MOP(S) Act employees had volunteered and been fully trained as OH&S site officers.
  • An exit interview program for MOP(S) Act employees was introduced on 1 July 2009.
  • During 2009-10, no incidents involving MOP(S) Act employees were reported to Comcare under Section 68 of the OH&S Act.
Professional development program
  • The program delivered 12 tailored professional development courses and information sessions comprising 60 individual sessions in all capital cities (excluding Darwin).
  • Of the 432 MOP(S) Act employees who attended training, 98.7% of participants who completed an evaluation form indicated that they would recommend the course they had attended to their colleagues.

Completion of personnel and entitlement transactions for senators, members and their staff (it is estimated that 700,000 transactions will be processed each year).

Personnel and entitlement transactions processed accurately for senators, members and their staff, in compliance with the parliamentary entitlements framework.

  • 95% of all personnel/pay variations received prior to cut-off processed in the next pay.
  • 95% of all charter and car transport claims processed within 10 days of receipt of certification.

Achieved.

  • 98% of personnel/pay variations received prior to cut-off were processed in the next pay.
  • 95% of all charter and car transport claims processed within 10 days of receipt of claim. 2

Completion of flight reservations for senators, members and their staff (it is estimated that 30,000 transactions will be processed each year).

Flight reservations processed accurately for senators, members and their staff.

Achieved.

Payment of parliamentarians’ travelling allowance claims (it is estimated that 21,000 transactions will be processed each year).

90% of all travelling allowance claims paid within five working days.

Achieved.

  • 93% of travelling allowance claims were paid within five working days.

Receipt and action of service calls received via the office in Parliament House and staff desk units (it is estimated that 25,000 calls will be received and actioned each year).

Timely and accurate response to service calls received via the office in Parliament House and staff desk units.

  • 95% of client enquiries responded to within one working day.
  • 80% of client enquiries resolved within two working days.

Achieved.

  • 99% of client enquiries responded to within one working day.
  • 90% of client enquiries resolved within two working days.

Provision of monthly reports to senators and members on entitlement usage.

All monthly reports to senators and members on entitlement usage delivered on time.

Mostly achieved.

The end of financial year report and all monthly reports were, with one exception, delivered on time. The April report was delayed by one business day due to an evacuation of a Finance tenancy.

Provision of six-monthly reports to parliament on parliamentarians’ and former parliamentarians’ entitlements expenditure and on parliamentarians’ overseas study entitlement.3

All six-monthly reports to parliament on parliamentarians’ and former parliamentarians’ entitlements expenditure and on parliamentarians’ overseas study entitlement delivered on time.

Achieved.

Both reports were tabled within agreed timeframes

.

Provision and maintenance of electorate offices and office accommodation and facilities for office holders and visiting senators and members in Commonwealth Parliament Offices.

95% of office establishment and relocation projects delivered within approved budgets.

Achieved.

100% of projects completed within approved budgets.

Provision of COMCAR services.

Satisfaction in at least 98% of all COMCAR reservations.

Achieved.

99% satisfaction achieved.

Implementing the government’s reforms to parliamentary entitlements, including the provision of a vetting service for printed material produced by parliamentarians under the printing and communications entitlement.

80% of all parliamentarians’ enquiries on whether material produced under the printing and communications entitlement complies with legislation responded to within two working days.

Achieved.

88% of all requests for printed material to be vetted against the printing and communications entitlement were responded to within two working days.

Table 8: Resources for Outcome 3
Budget 4
2009-10
$'000
Actual Expenses
2009-10
$'000
Variation
2009-10
$'000
(a) (b) (a-b)
Program 3.1: Ministerial and Parliamentary Services      
Administered Expenses      
Ordinary Annual Services (Appropriation Bill No. 1)      
Electorate & ministerial support costs 200,041 201,542 (1,501)
Medallions 10 0 10
Political exchange program 829 543 286
Special Appropriations:      
Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1901 (s66) 3,200 3,214 (14)
Members of Parliament (Life Gold Pass) Act 2002 2,114 1,659 455
Parliamentary Entitlements Act 1990 136,102 151,493 (15,391)
Expenses not requiring appropriation - 29,173 (29,173)
Departmental Expenses      
Ordinary Annual Services (Appropriation Bill No. 1)      
Services to Senators, Members & their staff 41,246 44,412 (3,166)
VIP Hire Car Services 2,445 2,374 71
Expenditure against revenues from other sources (section 31)      
Services to Senators, Members & their staff 3,965 9,917 (5,952)
VIP Hire Car Services - 17 (17)
Total for Program 3.1 389,952 444,344 (25,219)
       
Total Expenses for Outcome 3 389,952 444,344 (25,219)
Departmental 47,656 56,720 (9,064)
Administered 342,296 387,624 (16,155)
       
  2008-09  2009-10  
Average staffing level (number) 283 305  

Footnotes:

  1. From 23 April 2010, medallions were no longer issued to life gold pass holders.
  2. The current claim process is actioned on receipt of the claim rather than the receipt of certification.
  3. On 8 September 2009, the government announced a number of reforms to parliamentary entitlements including the tabling of all entitlements expenditure (previously only travel related expenditure was tabled). In 2009-10, reports were tabled on 20 November (travel only) and 24 June (all entitlements).
  4. Full-year 2009-10 PAES budget.

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