Support for parliamentarians, others with entitlements and organisations as approved by government through the delivery of entitlements and targeted assistance
This section highlights Finance’s significant activities and achievements in assisting parliamentarians, others with entitlements and government-approved organisations.
Finance achieves this outcome by providing entitlements, advice and a range of services to senators and members and their employees, as well as former parliamentarians.
Finance achieved the majority of the key performance indicators for this outcome set out in the 2011–12 Portfolio Budget Statements and Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements. Key performance indicators for members and senators and their employees under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984 (MOP(S) Act), office holders and former parliamentarians were mostly achieved by providing timely and accurate advice and services regarding their entitlements and other matters including office, travel and transport arrangements.
A new employment framework for MOP(S) Act employees, including a professional development program, was implemented during the year.
Our performance in relation to the target set for responding to client inquiries within one working day dipped by 2 per cent and the target was therefore not achieved. A high level of client satisfaction with COMCAR reservations and related services was achieved. All other ministerial and parliamentary services performance targets were met or exceeded in 2011–12.
More information on key performance indicators is available under ‘Performance information for Outcome 3’. A resource statement for the outcome is available in Table 10: Resources for Outcome 3.
Significant activities and achievements in 2011–12
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and associated VIP visits
In addition to the significant workload associated with providing transport for the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), COMCAR successfully coordinated and delivered car-with-driver and associated services for the royal visit and to other guests of government.
The programs for the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, the President of South Africa and the President of Nigeria were supported by COMCAR’s transportation services in Perth. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh travelled more widely, visiting Canberra, Brisbane and Melbourne before going to Perth to open CHOGM. COMCAR provided high-quality and secure services for each of these visits.
Australian Political Exchange Council
The Australian Political Exchange Council secretariat had a busy year: the council hosted seven delegations from participating countries and sponsored five Australian delegations and seven individuals on overseas study tours. The secretariat tailors programs for incoming delegations to Australia to accommodate delegates’ interests and to provide them with a sound understanding of Australia’s political and electoral systems. Programs for Australian delegations are developed by the host country and the secretariat arranges an all‑day briefing in Canberra to ensure that delegates arrive with a good understanding of the country’s political system, the bilateral relationship and current issues.
Two events of particular note occurred during the year. In May 2012, the council signed a memorandum of understanding with King Prajadhipok’s Institute in Thailand to launch an annual young political leaders’ exchange program in 2013. In June 2012, the council hosted the first delegation of military veterans in political careers from the American Council of Young Political Leaders.
Remuneration Tribunal review of remuneration and subsequent determinations
On 15 December 2011, the Remuneration Tribunal published its initial report on parliamentary base salary and related matters for members of the Australian Parliament. The department provided financial and human resource assistance to the Remuneration Tribunal Secretariat to assist in the tribunal’s deliberations, in addition to a range of information on parliamentary entitlements.
The report made a number of recommendations which have been implemented by the department, including amending the Members of Parliament (Life Gold Pass) Act 2002 to close the life gold pass scheme prospectively and reducing the existing life gold pass entitlement; amending the Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Act 1948 to break the link between additional salaries paid to sitting parliamentarians and the additional pensions of retired parliamentarians covered by the 1948 Act scheme and establishing alternative pension indexation arrangements; making regulations under the Ministers of State Act 1952 to increase the annual sum provided for ministers’ additional salaries; and amending the Parliamentary Entitlements Act 1990 to reform the overseas travel entitlement for the leader of the opposition and deputy leader of the opposition and establish an entitlement to overseas travel for the leader of a minority party.
In March 2012, the Remuneration Tribunal issued three new determinations: Determination 2012/02: Members of Parliament—Base Salary and Related Matters, Determination 2012/03: Parliamentary Additional Salary and Related Matters and Determination 2012/04: Members of Parliament—Entitlements. The parliamentary entitlements handbooks were updated to reflect the changes to entitlements arising from the new determinations and the legislative changes. Finance published a range of information about these changes on its website.
Recommendations of the review of the administration of parliamentary entitlements
In 2011, Ms Helen Williams AO completed her review of the administration of parliamentary entitlements and made eight recommendations (with multiple elements) to the department. To date, 45 individual elements of those recommendations have been implemented—improving both service delivery to senators and members and the efficiency of services. The model provided by Ms Williams continues to further improve access and responsiveness for the department’s client base.
Audit and checking program
Finance continued to deliver its enhanced audit and checking program relating to parliamentary entitlements during 2011–12. This work included reviewing six ministerial and parliamentary services state and territory offices and 20 electorate offices in six states and territories. Reviews of domestic travel, overseas study travel and delegations travel were also completed during the year. The reviews resulted in further improvements to the administration of parliamentary entitlements, including in electorate offices, and the identification of best practice processes for wider dissemination across the department’s client base.
COMCAR's electric vehicle trial
The six COMCAR drivers assigned to the electric vehicle trial. L-R: Steve McGrath, Tony Vincent, Ros Mackenzie, Georgina Hutchinson, Ian Spaulding and John Sullivan.
From 18 June to 1 July 2012, COMCAR made automotive history as the first Australian fleet to trial an Australian-made fully electric car designed with ground-breaking battery switch technology. The car was provided on loan from Melbourne-based consortium EV Engineering, which developed the vehicle with the assistance of a $3.5 million grant under the Australian Government’s New Car Plan for a Greener Future initiative.
The trial of the zero-emissions vehicle enabled COMCAR to consider the viability of introducing electric vehicles to its fleet. Evaluation measures included driver and client feedback, energy efficiency, passenger comfort, luggage capacity and operational suitability.
The trial was considered a success. More than one-quarter of all parliamentarians were driven and feedback from both drivers and passengers was overwhelmingly positive. The vehicle meets COMCAR’s environmental objectives and savings in running costs are likely. Overall, the vehicle was considered to be potentially suitable for COMCAR’s Canberra-based fleet. All feedback has been provided to the manufacturer for its consideration.
New arrangements for payroll disbursements
Payroll disbursement services for staff employed under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984 were successfully transitioned from an external commercial service provider to in-house service arrangements during the year. Payroll disbursement refers to the distribution of salary and creditor payments from the department to financial institutions, as well as the reporting of payments to individuals and creditors such as superannuation funds and the Australian Taxation Office. The new in‑house service arrangements have proven to be efficient and effective, providing the department with greater control over and flexibility in delivering payroll services to clients.
Performance information for Outcome 3
Program 3.1: Ministerial and parliamentary services
This program contributes to the outcome through the provision of, and advice on, entitlements of ministers, senators, members, office holders and former parliamentarians and their respective staff (employed under the MOP(S) Act). Finance provides the following support services under the program:
- 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 car‑with‑driver services
- a transport and luggage service for guests of the Australian Government
- Political Exchange Program.
Table 9 summarises the department’s performance against the 2011–12 Portfolio Budget Statements and Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements.
Outcome 3 resources statement
|Program 3.1: Ministerial and parliamentary services|
|Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Bill No. 1 & 3)|
|Electorate & Ministerial Support Costs||232,802||250,706||(17,904)|
|Political exchange program||833||556||277|
|Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1901 (s.66)||3,474||3,935||(461)|
|Members of Parliament (Life Gold Pass) Act 2002||3,095||8,942||(5,847)|
|Parliamentary Entitlements Act 1990||153,087||136,253||16,834|
|Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year²||8,754||20,066||(11,312)|
|Departmental Appropriations 1|
|Services to Senators, Members & their Staff||41,142||42,426||(1,284)|
|Car-with-driver and Associated Transport Services³||2,243||1,997||246|
|Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 2||1,787||2,138||(351)|
|Total for Program 3.1||447,217||467,018||(19,801)|
|Outcome 3 totals by appropriation type|
|Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Bills No. 1 & 3)||233,635||251,262||(17,627)|
|Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year²||8,754||20,066||(11,312)|
|Departmental Appropriations 1||43,385||44,423||(1,038)|
|Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year²||1,787||2,138||(351)|
|Total Expenses for Outcome 3||447,217||467,018||(19,801)|
|Average staffing level (number)||297||309|