House debates

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Bills

Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2020-2021; Consideration in Detail

12:06 pm

Photo of Ben MortonBen Morton (Tangney, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet) Share this | Hansard source

I thank the chamber for the opportunity to make an opening statement. The Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio currently has 14 agencies that receive appropriations from the government. The 2020-21 budget supply and appropriations bills provided the portfolio with appropriations for ordinary annual services of $2.2 billion in 2021. The total appropriations for the portfolio include half a billion dollars for functions not related to Indigenous affairs. Minister Wyatt will discuss the budget measures received by Indigenous agencies within the portfolio shortly.

Included in the total funding for the portfolio, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet will be provided with appropriations for ordinary annual services of $246 million in 2020-21. The average staffing level for the portfolio is 4,712. It should be noted that a substantial portion of the staff of the portfolio is funded through external revenue receipts that were not appropriated to entities within the portfolio by an annual appropriation act or another act.

The 2020-21 budget delivered a number of important measures led by the Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio. These include supporting communities impacted by the catastrophic bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic. The Prime Minister announced the establishment of the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission on 25 March 2020. It was renamed the National COVID-19 Commission Advisory Board on 27 July 2020. The name change reflects its strategic advisory role in providing businesses' perspective to government on Australia's economic recovery. The advisory board will provide support and effort to the government's plans for Australia's economic recovery and help get Australians back into jobs.

The 2020-21 budget is an economic recovery plan with a renewed focus on making it easier for businesses to operate, invest and create jobs. The government will provide $14.2 million over the next two years to the Deregulation Taskforce and to regulatory performance functions within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as part of the wider JobMaker plan deregulation package. The Deregulation Taskforce will provide additional support to help National Cabinet drive an ambitious recovery and oversee the implementation of measures. The regulatory performance function will support regulatory agencies to improve accountability and transparency, to build capability and drive a culture of regulator excellence. I was pleased to announce this initiative last month. Placing this regulatory performance policy function at the centre of government will increase accountability, promote best practice, build professionalism of regulators and drive cultural change. This isn't about a more systematic expectation-setting, reporting, monitoring and promoting culture of regulator excellence across the Commonwealth. It's about better coordination and data sharing, more rational and ultimately effective risk based compliance monitoring, and footprint mapping, with a view to possible streamlining.

The government is committed to supporting women's economic security through the 2020-22 Economic Women's Security Statement. This will support women who have been impacted by COVID-19 and complement the government's JobMaker plan. The department will receive $47.9 million over four years to expand the existing Women's Leadership and Development Program. In addition to creating employment, the funding will also bolster existing priority areas, including women's safety by supporting women experiencing domestic, family and sexual violence to return to and retain work. Minister Ley will be able to provide further details on the 2020-22 Women's Economic Security Statement and package during her statement today.

The government will provide the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet additional resourcing of $39.2 million over four years to support the government's policy priorities, including its COVID-19 response and establishing ICT systems for the Office of the National Data Commissioner to regulate public sector data sharing and release. The government has recognised the importance of critical technology and has committed $5.6 million over two years to improve the government's capability to identify assets that address national security related issues for critical technologies. This includes the establishment of the Critical Technologies Policy Coordination Office within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, enhanced international engagement and expanding the Department of Defence's role in assessing trends in emerging technology.

The government will also provide the Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General additional resourcing of $18 million over four years. The office plays a pivotal role in supporting the Governor-General and administering the Australian Honours and Awards System. The funding will support ongoing community engagement, the processing of national emergency medal and the office to undertake necessary ICT upgrades.

The National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency will receive $19.6 million in 2021-22 to extend the drought support offered to affected communities. Old Parliament House will receive $1.9 million over three years to undertake critical urgent works to the heritage listed buildings, to ensure public safety and asset repairs. The Australian National Audit Office will receive $69.4 million in appropriations for ordinary annual services in 2020-21.

I thank the committee for the opportunity to set out the portfolio's budget measures and to give a brief insight in how they'll benefit our community and our economy. I thank the hardworking staff of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet for their support for the government's priorities.

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