MS TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education) (17:34): I also add my voice in thanking all of the staff here at Parliament and back in our electorate offices for the work that they do day in and day out. I would encourage anyone that is listening that has not actually visited Parliament to do so, because it is a particularly interesting place—for all sorts of reasons, but most importantly for the people that work here. You do not have a clue really, until you come here, or understand all the different types of work that are undertaken by a whole range of different business units, including Hansard—who, everyone has indicated, makes us read really well, and that is absolutely true. But it is also catering, it is the library, it is the Clerks, it is our attendants, it is the gardeners, it is security—you name it.
Everything that you could possibly think of actually operates here in our community called the Victorian Parliament, and it is not until you do one of those all-night stints when there is a break and you see the queue for coffee that you get some idea about all of the people that work outside of this chamber that enable us to actually get about the business of what Parliament is all about—and that is what we are about to do again in a moment in relation to dealing with the bill that is before us. So again, can I thank everyone that is here in this house now and at other times but also our electorate officers, who absolutely do a mountain of work in our electorates talking to constituents, resolving issues and promoting issues that need to be dealt with and have solutions found for. I thank you for all of your work regardless of which political colour you might work for.
In terms of the bill before us this evening, as people have indicated, it is the legal authority for the appropriation of monies from the Consolidated Fund to Parliament in respect to this financial year, including ongoing liabilities incurred by Parliament such as employee entitlements that may be realised in the future. So it is pretty important to a whole range of workers that are connected to the operation of this Parliament. It covers the Department of Parliamentary Services, the Auditor-General, the Parliamentary Budget Office and the three integrity bodies—IBAC, the Victorian Inspectorate and the Ombudsman.
The total appropriation for bodies funded under this bill has increased by $4.6 million, from $264.1 million to $268.7 million. Consistent with previous years, Parliament received an exemption from the general efficiency dividend, which applies to other government departments. That includes increases in the total funding for all of the integrity agencies: $8.4 million for the Victorian Inspectorate, up from $7.7 million in 2021–22; $18.8 million for the Auditor-General, up from $18.3 million; and $20.2 million for the Ombudsman, up from $19.6 million. There will also be a separate increase of $0.7 million in response to the Ombudsman’s request to manage urgent activities in the coming financial year. Since 2015–16 the Ombudsman’s funding has grown by 61 per cent. There is $54.9 million for IBAC, up from $53.3 million last year. This is before the additional funding to acquit their base review outcomes, which will add a further $7 million this year to this total once the review process is finalised. The additional funding totalling $32.090 million over four years and $8.609 million ongoing was announced in the 2022–23 budget for IBAC to meet new and increasing demands, deliver on its expanded oversight role, address gaps in capability and capacity and find sufficient efficiencies in its operating model and structure to optimise its performance as the leading integrity agency. This funding allocation equals the amount sought by IBAC in its bid during the budget process. IBAC has received the largest funding increase of any integrity agency since this government came to office. By 2025–26 their funding will have almost doubled—that is, 96 per cent-plus since 2015–16.
This year’s appropriation bill also includes funding for the Parliamentary Budget Office to manage costs associated with the upcoming general election. In 2021–22 $0.9 million was announced, representing a 28 per cent increase in the PBO’s funding for the 2022 state election, higher than funding provided to the PBO for the last state election in 2018. This funding has been rephased to cover the 2022 calendar year at the PBO’s request.
The funding for the Council and the Assembly has increased by 3.3 per cent each, in line with the increase in the number of enrolled voters, as per the determination of the Victorian Independent Remuneration Tribunal.
Funding is also provided to upgrade Parliament’s legacy and end-of-life broadcasting equipment for both houses of Parliament. Updated technologies will also be implemented to enable members and their staff to remotely participate in proceedings in emergency situations. So in a nutshell the government will not be supporting the suggested amendments that have been put forward by Mr David Davis, and I look forward to further discussion in the committee stage.
Motion agreed to.
Read second time.