Thursday, 12 November 2020
Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2020-2021; Consideration in Detail
Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for the opportunity to make an opening statement. As was pointed out by the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the 2020-21 budget provides the Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio with appropriations for ordinary annual services of $2.3 billion in the 2020-21 financial year. Of the total appropriations for the portfolio, $1.8 billion relates to Indigenous affairs, with funding provided to the National Indigenous Australians Agency, Aboriginal Hostels Limited, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Indigenous Business Australia, the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation and the Torres Strait Regional Authority.
We are investing in new services and initiatives to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have sustained economic and social opportunities as part of our economic recovery plan for Australia. The 2020-21 budget builds on the existing $5.4 billion Indigenous Advancement Strategy, which sees work continuing on projects to reduce the rates of Indigenous incarceration, youth suicide, and family and domestic violence, as well as improving the health, safety and wellbeing and the educational, employment and economic opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We are also forecasting $1.4 billion in expenditure from the special accounts over the coming four years. This includes funds from the Aboriginals Benefit Account to the four Northern Territory land councils and the Office of Township Leasing for operational purposes, as well as discretionary projects specifically for the benefit of Aboriginal people living in the Northern Territory. Outside of the Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio, we have continued our commitment of $4 billion in Indigenous health funding over the coming four years through the Department of Health, including $976 million in 2020-21.
The government is rebuilding our economy by stimulating economic regional development activity, ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people secure appropriate, affordable housing that is aligned with their priorities and needs. This will also contribute to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. To enable this, Indigenous Business Australia will receive an additional investment of $150 million over three years to deliver 360 home loans for new housing construction in regional Australia. The extension of the IBA's Indigenous Home Ownership Program will support over a thousand jobs in regional Australia and increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in appropriately sized housing. This helps Indigenous families move into their own homes and start to build intergenerational wealth while addressing overcrowding and stimulating the economies of regional and remote Australia. Building on our significant investment in housing for remote communities in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia, this budget also provides $100 million to the Queensland government to deliver more housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote Queensland. The payment is part of the agreement reached with the Queensland government to assume full responsibility for housing in remote communities.
The 2020-21 budget reaffirms the government's commitment to supporting the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The government would enhance the next phase of closing the gap with an investment of $46.5 million over four years to develop the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled service delivery sector. The funding supports the commitment of the national agreement under Priority Reform Two and will help improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Productivity Commission will also receive $10.1 million over four years to provide independent oversight and accountability of progress under the national agreement.
The government is also continuing the return of cultural heritage initiatives by investing a further $10.1 million over four years for AIATSIS to secure the return of more cultural heritage to traditional owners and custodians. The budget includes $4 million to create four new Indigenous ranger groups to care for country, which will bring Indigenous knowledge and connection to country to support water and natural resource management activities within the Murray-Darling. This builds on the $40 million Aboriginal entitlements program and our commitment to appoint an Indigenous board member to the Murray-Darling authority.
With these new investments we're ensuring that the challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic do not slow down progress to improving the lives of Indigenous Australians. These new measures build on my announcement in April 2020, where we made available $123 million over two financial years for targeted measures to support Indigenous businesses and communities. Our budget reflects the way in which we are considering the economic and social opportunities for Indigenous Australians right across this nation and optimising better pathways and better futures for the young who are coming through our systems, and we will continue to work in concert with state and territory jurisdictions.