I rise to also speak on the Appropriation (Parliament 2021–2022) Bill 2021. I will not attempt to cover some of the ground that Mr Rich-Phillips has covered in his contribution, although there will be a little bit of repetition. But I will be as quick as I possibly can, noting of course that it was only yesterday that we were having a debate in this place about the importance of democracy. Of course the Parliament is the very place where we practice that each and every day that this chamber sits and in the other place, and it is such an important feature of the democratic system here in Victoria.
As Mr Rich-Phillips said, the appropriation authority sought just a little north of $264 million. The figure is contained in clause 3 of the parliamentary bill and indeed in budget paper 3, chapter 1. The bill has been the subject of consultation with the various departments of the Parliament, including the Presiding Officers and the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office. We were also consulted in the preparation and on the contents of the bill.
Mr Rich-Phillips went through very quickly, and I will just reiterate, the adjustments for each of the departments, which are important for us to note here in this place. In this budget there is an increase for the Legislative Council of 12 per cent; for the Legislative Assembly, 3 per cent; parliamentary investigative committees, 9 per cent; and the Department of Parliamentary Services, 5 per cent. The Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) remains static; the Victorian Inspectorate is at 8 per cent; the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission has a 27 per cent variance; the Auditor-General, 3 per cent; and the Victorian Ombudsman, 1 per cent. The total appropriation rises from $242.6 million in 2020–21 to this year’s budget of $264.1 million, a rise of 9 per cent.
Parliament’s overall total appropriation has increased by $21.4 million. That is largely attributed to the shifts in the funding profiles of Parliamentary Services and IBAC. The driver behind that increase of $7.3 million for Parliamentary Services is an addition to the net asset base, which has increased by $6.9 million, primarily relating to last year’s budget. And the $11.4 million increase for IBAC is driven by two factors: the phase-in of the 2020–21 budget initiative funding for IBAC meeting demand and community expectations; and, secondly, $4.2 million in new funding initiatives funded through the budget.
There are a number of particular line items that give weight to the budget papers and an explanation of the increase in the budget. I do not propose to go through all of those line by line, but I will just outline a couple of those initiatives very, very briefly so that we can then move on. For example, and Mr Rich-Phillips touched on this, there is an increase for the Legislative Council standing committees. I know they are something near and dear to everybody’s heart in this place, but importantly it enables us to do the work that we seemed so wedded to on those cold Wednesday nights pre COVID when we would sit as committees and meet.
The PBO funding, as I said, is funding for 2022 general election costs. Funding is provided to the budget office to provide additional independent policy costings and advisory services to the members. There is going to be some additional funding for cybersecurity upgrades. As I said, there was the implementation of the Victorian Independent Remuneration Tribunal and Improving Parliamentary Standards Act 2019—wouldn’t that be good—and in 2021–22 there was an increase in members of Parliament electorate office and communications budgets of some $600 000 and so on.
Perhaps I can conclude by saying that I, along with all those on this side of the house but I am sure everybody in the chamber, do so gratefully enjoy the support and the output from so many people around the Parliament. The staff in the Parliament do a magnificent job to support the 40 members of this chamber and of course the 88 in the other place. They do so so professionally and so wonderfully well. As Mr Rich-Phillips said, there was a time when there were always difficulties in getting enough funding for the work to be done in this place to be able to support the Parliament, but pleasingly those times seem to have changed and we are now acquitting those funds through the budget papers and through the appropriation bills, and rightly so. I will stop there and in doing so say that I commend the bill to the house.