The office budget may be used to purchase commercial services for printing, communication and distribution of information in hard copy, electronic (including the establishment and maintenance of websites) and audio poster format.1
Office budget expenditure on printing and communications must only be used for parliamentary or electorate purposes, and must not be used for party business or commercial purposes, or for the production of how-to-vote material.2 Further, the office budget must not be used for the cost of commercial services for the placement or the production of television or radio content.3
Note: telephones, smartphones, mobile telephones, facsimile machines, and other equipment provided to a Senator or Member to enable him or her to operate an electorate office are not provided from the office budget. This equipment is provided under sub-item 7(1), Part 1, Schedule 1 to the Parliamentary Entitlements Act 1990.4
For the purpose of printing and communications, party business:
- means the production, communication or distribution of material that:
- is, or contains, how-to-vote material, or
- solicits subscriptions or other financial support for a member, political party or candidate; and
- does not include the production, communication or distribution of a postal vote application.5
Commercial purposes is not defined for the purposes of printing and communications. For printing and communications, commercial purposes will be interpreted to mean a purpose relating to the derivation of financial gain or reward, whether as a board member, an office-holder, an employee, a self-employed person or otherwise.
More information about printing and communications, including the range of materials that can be produced (e.g. printing, websites, social media, e-material, audio posters, personalised letterhead stationery), and guidelines about content that may be included, is available.
There is no limit on the amount of the office budget that may be expended on printing and communications, other than the limit of the office budget itself.
Items ordered in a certain financial year that are received in the following financial year will be charged to the latter year’s office budget. Advertisements will be charged to the office budget at the date of publication.
A stamp allocation of $1,800 is automatically deducted from each Senator and Member’s office budget per financial year and provided to the relevant Chamber Department for the provision of stamps and stamped envelopes at Parliament House (see 3.9.6 below). However, a Member or Senator may elect to opt-out of the stamp allocation, in full or in part, by notifying the relevant Chamber Department, and the corresponding value will be re-credited to his or her office budget account.
Members are advised of their expenditure on printing and communications from the office budget through their monthly management report and by requesting budget reports online.
Printing and communications is administered by Ministerial and Parliamentary Services and payments are made to suppliers from the Senator or Member’s office budget on the basis of accounts certified by the Senator or Member.
The key elements of administration are:
- post print and optional pre-print checking of printing and communications material to be paid from the office budget
- payment of certified invoices on behalf of Senators and Members
- reporting through the monthly management report of payments made in the last month and remaining office budget balance
- conducting the end of financial year (and pre-polling day) audit of Senators and Members’ postage meters.
The office budget may be used to cover the cost of commercial services for the printing of items and the production of electronic material (e-material) and the production and maintenance of audio posters for parliamentary or electorate purposes, but not for party business (which includes the printing of how-to-vote material) or commercial purposes.6
The office budget can be used to cover the cost of translation services, as well as professional design, artwork, photography services and audio recording services for audio posters, which are an inherent part of the production of material covered under printing and communications.7 However, there is no provision for general translation, design, artwork, photographic service or audio recording service costs to be met at Commonwealth expense.
In order to claim printing and communications expenditure from the office budget the following requirements must be met.
Material that may be printed on (excluding audio posters)
Items covered under printing and communications may only be printed on paper or card that does not weigh more than 700 grams per square metre (gsm), or flat magnetised material.8
Personalised letterhead stationery
For printing and communications, personalised letterhead stationery means:
- letterhead paper
- compliments slips
- business cards for the Senator or Member.9
Printing on personalised letterhead stationery may only include the following:
- the Senator or Member’s name and title
- the address, postal address and contact details of the Senator or Member’s electorate office, Parliament House office and capital city office (if applicable)
- a post office box
- other contact details of the Senator or Member, including his or her electronic contact addresses
- electoral division (for Members)
- State or Territory (for Senators)
- an electorate, State or Territory map
- a description of the electorate, State or Territory, which may be in the form of, or include, a pictorial representation relating to the electorate, State or Territory
- photographs of the Senator or Member
- the Commonwealth Coat of Arms
- the Australian flag
- a political party logo
- one personal slogan or motto of the Senator or Member
- incidental material. Examples of incidental material include:
- a statement that the material is printed on 100 percent recycled paper
- a symbol such as a tick to indicate that an organisation or body has approved an environmentally friendly method of production of the paper.10
If personalised letterhead stationery includes the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, the stationery must not include the Australian flag or a political party logo. If the Commonwealth Coat of Arms is used, established practice is to place the Commonwealth Coat of Arms at the head of any printed item with no wording or illustration above. For more information on the use of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, refer to the website of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.11
Postal Vote Applications
The number of postal vote applications that may be printed for a federal election is equal to the number of enrolled voters in a Member’s electorate, or 50 per cent of the number of enrolled voters in a Senator’s State or Territory, as at the last working day of March before the election.12 A single page that includes up to two PVA forms is still considered to be a single PVA.
The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 requires that a postal vote application be in the approved form. An approved form is one that is approved by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) by notice published on the AEC’s website.
Section 184AA of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 provides that a postal vote application may be physically attached to, or form part of, other written material issued by any person or organisation.
Procedures before printing or producing an item
A Senator or Member should ensure that the selection of the supplier (or printer) to produce material under the printing and communications provision is based on value for money, open and effective competition, ethics and fair dealing, accountability and transparency.
Senators and Members intending to produce material under printing and communications have the option to submit a print-ready copy, a sample of or a link to the proposed material, to Ministerial and Parliamentary Services for checking prior to printing or production.
Please email or post the following information when submitting material to Ministerial and Parliamentary Services:
- a brief description of the material being produced (e.g. newsletter, poster, audio poster, website etc.)
- advice as to whether the material submitted is being produced and/or distributed under printing and communications
- a print-ready copy, sample of or link to the proposed item
- if the item is an audio poster, an English transcription of audio;
- if the item is not in English, an English translation
- who to contact in case of any queries relating to the submitted material.
The submitted material will be assessed against the parameters of the printing and communications provision. Ministerial and Parliamentary Services will advise the Senator or Member in writing as to whether or not the item submitted may be claimed at Commonwealth expense. Should the item be assessed as outside the parameters of a claimable work expense, any cost associated with the production of the item (including artwork) will be the personal responsibility of the Senator or Member.
Procedures after printing or producing an item
On receipt of an invoice for items covered under printing and communications, the Senator or Member must complete a Printing and Communications Entitlement –Certification form (Form 141) and submit this form, together with the invoice, to Ministerial and Parliamentary Services. A separate certification is required for each invoice submitted.
The invoice and certification form should be sent to the Canberra office of Ministerial and Parliamentary Services at the email address or fax number provided on Form 141. Ministerial and Parliamentary Services will make payment, subject to the limits of the office budget.
Commercial services may be used for the communication and distribution of information both in hard copy and electronic format. The provision must only be used for parliamentary or electorate purposes, and must not be used for party business or commercial purposes. The cost of printing, communicating or distributing information that relates to a Senator or Member’s party business or is for commercial purposes cannot be met at Commonwealth expense.13
Commercial distribution services that may be accessed under this provision include:
- postal services from Australia Post (including credits to postage meters)
- other mail distribution services (including letter box drops in the electorate)
- courier services, and/or
- other commercial services for distributing information in hard copy or electronically (including the establishment and maintenance of websites).
However, the cost of stamps or stamped envelopes available from Australia Post are not covered under printing and communications. See section 3.9.8 for further information on Australia Post services.
Establishment and Maintenance of Websites
When the office budget is used for the establishment and maintenance of websites, it must only be used in relation to parliamentary or electorate purposes and must not be used for party business or commercial purposes.
The office budget cannot be used to solicit subscriptions or other financial support for a Senator or Member, political party or candidate, as these activities are considered to be party business and contrary to the parameters of the printing and communications provision. Websites established and/or maintained using the office budget should not contain links for these purposes. However, it is acceptable for a website established and/or maintained using the office budget to contain a link to a party website.
Examples of costs for commercial services associated with the establishment and maintenance of websites may include:
- design services
- website construction
- domain renewals
- website maintenance.
Stamps or stamped envelopes, to the value of $1,800 per financial year for each Senator and Member, are made available from Parliament House with the value deducted from each Senator and Member’s office budget. These stamps and stamped envelopes must only be used for parliamentary or electorate purposes, and not for party business or commercial purposes. It is the prerogative of each Senator and Member whether he or she accesses the postage allocation or elects to have the $1,800 component available for other uses allowed within the office budget. The relevant chamber department must be advised if a Senator or Member chooses not to receive the stamp allocation.
Ministerial and Parliamentary Services provides each Senator or Member with a postage meter in his or her electorate office. A postage meter impression may be used to pay for bulk postage at a Post Office. Where a large number of impressions are required it may be more practicable for Australia Post to adjust the credit on the meter by the required amount. The Post Office Manager can provide advice on the most cost-effective way to deal with mail.
The postage meter, which has an inbuilt modem, may be reset by telephone connection to Australia Post. The amount involved is automatically billed to the nominated Australia Post account for the Senator or Member.
Mail processed through the postage meter or Australia Post charge account is to show the Senator or Member’s office address for return of undelivered mail.
Senators and Members may use their Australia Post charge account, subject to the annual office budget limit, for the following services:
- ordinary mail
- priority paid mail
- certified mail
- express courier mail
- bulk direct mail service
- bulk pre-sorted mail
- householder delivery service
The Australia Post charge account must not be used to purchase stamps or stamped envelopes.
Upon application by a Senator or Member following their election, Australia Post may make available a standard Australia Post Charge Account which has a standard credit ceiling of $10,000 at any one time. The Australia Post account is a private arrangement between a Senator or Member and Australia Post, and a Senator or Member is personally responsible for ensuring that the account is paid in accordance with Australia Post’s requirements. Australia Post invoices should be promptly submitted to Ministerial and Parliamentary Services, and invoices will be paid to the extent that funds are available in the office budget. Invoices should be submitted with Form 141.
1 Section 5(1)(b) of the Parliamentary Entitlements Act 1990 and Division 1 of Part 2 of the Parliamentary Entitlements Regulations 1997.
2 Regulation 3AA(3) of the Parliamentary Entitlements Regulations 1997.
3 Regulations 3AA(2A)(a) and 3AA(2A)(b) of the Parliamentary Entitlements Regulations 1997.
4 Section 4 of, and item 7 of Part 1 of Schedule 1 to, the Parliamentary Entitlements Act 1990.
5 Regulation 3AA(11) of the Parliamentary Entitlements Regulations 1997.
6 Regulation 3AA(3) of the Parliamentary Entitlements Regulations 1997.
7 Regulations 3AA(2)(c) and 3AA(2)(g) of the Parliamentary Entitlements Regulations 1997.
8 Regulation 3AA(5) of the Parliamentary Entitlements Regulations 1997.
9 Regulation 3AA(11) of the Parliamentary Entitlements Regulations 1997.
10 Regulations 3AA(8) and (9) of the Parliamentary Entitlements Regulations 1997.
11 General Guidelines for Use of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms within the Commonwealth. Refer also to pages 293-298 of Style Manual for authors, editors and printers, Sixth Edition
12 Regulation 3AA(10) of the Parliamentary Entitlements Regulations 1997.
13 Regulations 3AA(2) and (3) of the Parliamentary Entitlements Regulations 1997.