Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Advance to the Finance Minister
That the Senate approves the advances provided under the annual Appropriation Acts as a final charge for the year ended 30 June 2018.
This report discloses details of one advance released under the annual appropriation acts to enable an urgently required funding allocation to be issued during the year. The report was tabled in February and considered in the estimates process. Following the reports of the estimates committees, the Senate now approves the report, consistent with longstanding Senate practices.
In the 2017-18 financial year, the one advance issued was an amount of $122 million provided on 9 August 2017 to the Australian Bureau of Statistics to conduct the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey. The report shows that the final expenditure required for the marriage survey was $80.5 million, and on 15 January 2018 access to the underspend of $41.5 million was withdrawn. This report shows that efficiencies were achieved by the ABS working in partnership with other Commonwealth agencies and leveraging off existing statistical infrastructure. Costs relating to the marriage survey were one-offs, so there is no risk of similar recurring spending pressures. The one advance in the 2017-18 year was unique and was subject to two legal challenges. The High Court upheld the validity of the funding for the marriage law survey, ruling against every aspect of the legal challenges.
The limited number of advances in 2017-18 and previous years under this government reflects well on our responsible financial management, which has allowed other urgent and unforeseen pressures arising outside the budget cycle to be managed within existing appropriations. I commend this report to the Senate.
Question agreed to.