Summary of annual appropriations

  1.  Appropriations are laws made by parliament. The Commonwealth cannot spend money without an appropriation. Spending money without an appropriation is a breach of section 83 of the Constitution.
  2. The annual Appropriation Acts detail annual appropriations provided to Commonwealth entities. The Acts take precedence over details in CBMS, Portfolio Budget Statements/Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements and annual reports:
  • Appropriation Act (No. 1), and other Appropriation Acts for the ordinary annual services of the government, provide funding for:
    • departmental operating costs, including the cost of replacing some existing assets
    • departmental capital
    • administered outcomes that have been previously authorised by Parliament
  • Appropriation Act (No. 2), and other annual appropriation Acts for other services, provide funding for services other than the ordinary annual services of the government, this includes:
    • departmental non-operating costs (equity injections)
    • administered non-operating costs (administered assets and liabilities)
    • administered operating costs that fall within an outcome not previously authorised by parliament (new administered outcomes) and
    • some payments to the states and territories. 
  1. An approval can only be given to spend relevant money:
  • if there is an available appropriation (either in an Act or proposed in a Bill before parliament) or
  • for commitments beyond the budget year, in accordance with the relevant internal controls of an entity (e.g., Accountable Authority Instructions).
  1. Until 30 June 2015, relevant money cannot be spent from the CRF (or an appropriation debited) without a valid drawing right.
  2. Unspent departmental appropriations and non-operating appropriations do not lapse at the end of each budget year. These appropriations remain available until spent or the appropriation authority is repealed or sunsets.
  3. Unspent administered appropriations are no longer available after the budget year.
  4. There are no negative appropriations.
  5. Commonwealth entities can reallocate funds between activities that are funded by the same Appropriation Act item, subject to the Budget Process Operational Rules.
  6. As a general rule, amounts received by an entity must be returned to the CRF. However, if the receipt is of a kind prescribed in section 27 of the PGPA Rule for the purposes section 74 of the PGPA Act, then an entity can add that prescribed receipt to its most recent departmental appropriation item.

Guide to changing annual appropriations

New or updated government decisions can require changes to annual appropriations in three ways:

1. Increasing annual appropriations

2. Moving annual appropriations between entities

3. Reducing annual appropriations

Contact for information on this page: Annual Appropriations Team

Last updated: 15 June 2015