Page 4040 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 23 October 2018
That resolution was moved, debated and agreed to prior to the resumption of consideration of the Appropriation Bill 1995-1996 at the detail stage. The debate on the matter raised broad principles of importance relating to the financial initiative of the Crown and its application to the territory’s system of government.
It is fair to say that the Assembly moved to more formally embody, through the resolution, the doctrine of the financial initiative of the Crown in anticipation of a number of amendments to the appropriation bill that had been foreshadowed by private members. With the resolution having been passed, later that day the Speaker ruled that the amendments were out of order on the basis that they offended the recently passed resolution.
The precise limits of the 1995 resolution have not, to date, been tested, particularly in relation to the constraints that it imposes on non-executive members’ capacity to initiate or amend revenue legislation. It is arguable, however, that the Land Tax (Community Housing Exemption) Amendment Bill 2018 does encroach on the financial initiative of the Crown when considered in its broader sense. I am advised that there does not appear to be a precedent whereby a non-executive member has presented a bill seeking to amend a tax. Standing order 275 states:
Any question relating to procedure or the conduct of business of the Assembly not provided for in these standing orders or practices of the Assembly, shall be decided according to the practice at the time prevailing in the House of Representatives in the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia.
In a 2013 paper exploring constitutional and procedural positions relating to the financial initiative at the commonwealth level, The Law Making Powers of the Houses: Three Aspects of the Financial Initiative, the House of Representatives Clerk’s office observed that:
In relation to taxation, House practice, again reflecting the principles of the financial initiative, is that only a minister or parliamentary secretary may move an amendment to increase or extend the scope of the charge proposed beyond the total already existing under an existing act.
Standing order 179 of the House of Representatives provides that:
(a) Only a Minister may initiate a proposal to impose, increase, or decrease a tax or duty, or change the scope of any charge.
(b) Only a Minister may move an amendment to the proposal which increases or extends the scope of the charge proposed beyond the total already existing under any Act of Parliament.
(c) A Member who is not a Minister may move an amendment to the proposal which does not increase or extend the scope of the charge proposed beyond the total already existing under any Act of Parliament.
In relation to taxation, amendment to reduce the tax imposed by a bill is in order and thus, in moving an amendment to a government’s bill, a private member may do what