New paper assesses Parliament’s independence

Independence of parliament, library researchThe Parliamentary Library has published a new paper on how Parliament is faring in maintaining its independence from Executive Government.

“Victoria’s system of responsible government relies on the separation of powers and having an independent Parliament, where protocols ensure that the concentration of power is not in the hands of any single person, institution or branch of government,” the research paper states.

The paper discusses the fundamental roles of the legislative, executive and judicial branches, and the need to contain what it describes as “an executive creep” that has occurred in Victoria.

“This imbalance must be reversed if the separation of powers is to perform its constitutional role, and Victoria is to avoid Parliament becoming a flawed branch of democracy,” the research paper states.  

The financial independence of Parliament is a key issue explored in the research paper.

“Although Victoria has its own Parliament Appropriation Bill, it is still controlled by the Government and the amount of money allocated to the Parliament is determined by the Government, through Treasury,” the paper states.

“Granting this separate Parliament Appropriation Bill to Victoria in 1992 was nothing more than a symbolic concession to Parliament—as it has not resulted in any greater protection of its independence from the Executive.” 

The research paper offers some observations on how parliamentary independence could be enhanced.

“Perhaps it is time for Parliament to establish and administer its own annual budget with forecasts to cover future needs such as new initiatives and rises in operating costs, accountable under an annual audit, guided by a parliamentary commission or corporate body, that would be tasked with the responsibility of managing Parliament’s departments and their budgets,” the paper states.

It concludes with an examination of issues and challenges which warrant further examination.

The research paper is available from the Parliamentary Library’s website.


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