The VGSO provides expert legal advice to government departments and agencies on Victorian public financial management.
We advise our clients on their obligations under the financial management framework. We assist departments and agencies on the most legally appropriate revenue streams and expenditure mechanisms. We also advise our clients on financial management systems and assist in the implementation of economic models such as compliance and risk-mitigation.
We have broad expertise across areas including:
- the financial management framework
- revenue raising
- expenditure of public money
- taxes and levies
- fees and charges
- legal advice in relation to economic modelling
- constitutional limitations on public financial management.
Financial management framework
We assist our clients in navigating the financial management framework. This includes advising on requirements relating to the Public Account, Consolidated Fund, trust accounts and departmental accounts. We also advise public entities on the application of the financial management framework and their obligations and statutory interpretation of financial management legislation. We also assist our clients to prepare legislative instruments including Treasurer's advances and delegations.
We have experience with the range of legislation and subordinate instruments that comprise the financial management framework in Victoria, including the:
- Audit Act 1994
- Borrowing Investment Powers Act 1987
- Constitution Act 1975
- Financial Management Act 1994 (and Standing Directions made under it)
- Financial Management Regulations 2014
- Financial Reporting Directions
- Public Administration Act 2004
- State-owned Enterprises Act 1992
- Trustee Act 1958
Revenue and expenditure of public money
We can provide legal advice in relation to revenue raising and expenditure under the financial management framework. Our expertise includes advising on:
- methods for raising revenue taxes, levies, fees, fines, proceeds of sale, investment incomes, borrowings and untied grants, and Commonwealth distributions
- methods for expenditure including annual appropriations, special and standing appropriations, particular appropriations, advances, ex gratia payments, and spending from trust and department accounts.
Taxes and levies
We advise our clients on taxes and levies in Victoria. This includes determining whether a given charge can be characterised as a tax, excise or bounty. We can also assist with navigating constitutional limitations on the imposition of taxes and levies.
Fees and charges
We advise our clients on the implementation fees and charge, including:
- fee for service models where the State seeks to exact a fee or charge for a particular service, including the legal authority of public entities to charge fees for service
- fee for privilege models in relation to access to public resources that confer a right or privilege on the payer
- the implementation of cost recovery fees and levies, as well as the legal limitations with using these mechanisms
- regulatory, resource and commercial activity charges, including charges associated with licensing and registration for activities.
Legal advice in relation to economic modelling
We provide legal advice in relation to the State's implementation of economic models, in particular, cost recovery mechanisms, such as those in the energy and water sectors. We can identify legal issues in proposed economic modelling and work with our clients to minimise risk. This includes:
- advising our clients on constitutional limitations that impact on proposed schemes
- ensuring that proposed schemes comply with any statutory limitations
- identifying any mitigating any risk of litigation arising from the implementation of economic models
- advising our clients on the use of appropriate revenue lines and expenditure mechanisms to achieve their economic model.