Parliamentary Library and staff allocations

by Bill Browne

The Albanese Government has set aside an additional $11 million over four years to increase the capacity of the Parliamentary Library. This is a welcome increase for the Library, which suffered cuts in the last budget.

The Library is a key parliamentary institution. In 2020–21, the Parliamentary Library cost $20 million to run and employed about 140 staff (full-time equivalent). Every single parliamentarian used the Library, which completed 9,000 requests from parliamentarians and released about 300 research publications.

The Government flagged an increase in Library funding after cutting the personal staff allocation of independent and minor party MPs and senators. The Prime Minister argued that they could use the Parliamentary Library instead. It is positive to see the Government make good on that commitment, noting that some of the affected parliamentarians argue that their own staff would also provide political and policy advice that the Parliamentary Library does not, at hours that the Library does not operate.

Regardless, the Parliamentary Library is due for a funding increase. It is a valuable resource to all parliamentarians, particularly non-Government MPs who do not have access to public service Departments to assist with their parliamentary responsibilities. Furthermore, parliamentarians are conducting more inquiries and considering more legislation than they used to, and the Australian public all benefit if the Parliament is well informed.

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