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Parliamentary Finances and the Estimates Committees [746kb]


Financial Procedure

All financial business is originated by the Government alone. A private Member is not able to move a motion or an amendment which imposes a charge upon the people or authorises the borrowing or expenditure of public money (a money bill). A Minister, acting on behalf of the Crown, must take the initiative. The expenditure of public money is considered annually in Parliament in the form of estimates of expenditure contained in the Appropriation Bill or Budget.

Financial business must originate in Parliament in the House of Assembly. The purpose for which the public money is to be used must be first recommended by the Governor to the House of Assembly during the session. The Legislative Council may not amend any money clause, but it may suggest amendments.

The Budget

The sources of revenue to meet the expenses of Government include State taxation (land tax, stamp duties and motor vehicle fees), receipts for the provision of public works and services (railways, hospitals, harbours etc.), territorial proceeds (Crown land rents, land sales and mining fees), and payments from the Commonwealth Government.

The principal money Bill initiated yearly in the House of Assembly is the Appropriation Bill, or Budget. When enacted, this Bill provides statutory authority for the expenditure of the billions of dollars necessary to meet the current expenses and the monetary requirements of the Government of South Australia for the coming financial year.

The Treasurer makes the main speech, known as the Treasurer's Financial Statement or Budget Speech, in moving the second reading of the Appropriation Bill. Related estimates of expenditure are tabled at this stage and copies are available to Members. Then follows a wide ranging debate of a general financial nature. At the conclusion of this debate, the estimates of expenditure are referred to Estimates Committees, where Members seek explanations from Ministers as to the proposed expenditure by all departments. After this examination is completed, the reports of the Committees are considered by the House. The third reading of the Bill follows and it is then considered in the Legislative Council. Being a financial measure, it may not be amended by the Legislative Council.

Specific Acts provide continuing authority for the payment of salaries and allowances to the Governor, Ministers of the Crown, Judges or Members of Parliament. These Acts may be amended from time to time by Parliament.

Supply Bills

It is usual for the Parliament to consider and pass Supply Bills in the latter part of the financial year to provide finance to the Government in the following year, up to the same level of expenditure as for the previous year, until the Appropriation Bill is passed.

Financial Accountability

It is the responsibility of the Auditor-General to audit the accounts of public revenue and expenditure and to satisfy himself that all moneys granted by Parliament have been properly accounted for and in particular to see that no money has been used for any purpose other than that for which it was appropriated by Parliament. The Auditor-General submits a report annually to Parliament and may submit reports on specific investigations at any time. The Auditor-General's independence of the Government of the day is safeguarded by statute as they may be removed from office only after an address praying for their removal has been passed by both Houses of Parliament.