Wednesday, 28 February 2007
Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2006-2007; Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2006-2007
That these bills be now read a second time.
I seek leave to have the second reading speeches incorporated in Hansard.
The speeches read as follows—
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 3) 2006-2007
It is with great pleasure that I introduce Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2006-2007.
There are two Additional Estimates Bills this year: Appropriation Bill (No. 3) and Appropriation Bill (No. 4). I shall introduce the latter Bill shortly.
The Additional Estimates Bills follow on from the Appropriation Bills that were introduced into the House on the occasion of the 2006-2007 Budget. They seek appropriation authority from Parliament for the additional expenditure of money from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, in order to meet requirements that have arisen since the last Budget.
The total appropriation being sought through the Additional Estimates Bills this year is in excess of $1.8 billion. That amount is partially offset by expected savings in appropriations of around $464.2 million. Taking savings into account, the expected net increase in expenditure arising from Additional Estimates Bills is approximately $1.37 billion, or about 2.1% of total annual appropriations. These savings are described in the document accompanying the Bills, the “Statement of Savings Expected in Annual Appropriations” which I will table shortly.
The total appropriation being sought in Appropriation Bill (No. 3) this year is almost $1.2 billion. This proposed appropriation arises from changes in the estimates of programme expenditure, due to variations in the timing of payments and forecast increases in costs, reclassifications and from policy decisions taken by the Government since the last Budget, most of which were described in the “Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook” document published in December last year.
I now outline the major items provided for in the Bill.
An increase of $74.2 million will be made available to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to provide:
- an additional $12 million to support primary producers in regions that have been declared eligible for Exceptional Circumstances assistance; and an additional $14 million to support primary producers in regions that have declared eligible for interim income support;
- $17.3 million as taxable grants of up to $5,500 for eligible farmers, in areas that have been Exceptional Circumstances declared for more than three years, to obtain professional business and planning advice; and
- $30.9 million to assist former and current tobacco growers to move into other business activities;
An additional $30.2 million will be provided to the Australian Federal Police to fund the Australian police deployments to East Timor following civil unrest in May 2006 and the contribution to the United Nations Integrated Mission in East Timor from December 2006. A further $11.6 million is proposed to increase the capacity of the Australian Federal Police to respond to peace-keeping, peace restoration and capacity-building overseas.
The Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts will be provided with $34.9 million for the Protecting Australian Families Online programme. Funding will comprise $23.4 million for a National Filter Scheme providing a free Internet filter, or filtered Internet service, for all Australian families and public libraries, and $11.4 million for a community education campaign.
Additional funding is proposed for the Department of Defence to enable the following programmes to proceed:
- $120.8 million will be provided for Operation ASTUTE to restore peace and stability in East Timor;
- $49.6 million for the first stage of a programme to help improve the retention and recruitment of Australian Defence Force personnel; and
- $32 million to deliver Stage 1 of the Enhanced Land Force initiative, to increase the size of the Australian Army by one light infantry battalion;
- These funding increases for the Department of Defence are partially offset by savings in other programmes.
The Department of Education, Science and Training will receive $53.6 million to implement the Skills for the Future initiative, of which $15 million will be used to promote the career options available under the initiative. The balance of $38.6 million will support people aged 25 years and over undertake accredited literacy/numeracy, basic education and Certificate level II courses by means of a voucher system valued at up to $3,000 each. In addition, the Department will also receive $14.1 million for the National School Chaplaincy Programme. The programme will provide grants of up to $20,000 a year directly to eligible schools to contribute to the cost of engaging a chaplain.
An additional $17.1 million will be provided to the Office of Workplace Services to support an increase in its compliance and enforcement activities in regional areas so that adequate employment protection is provided to employees and to raise public awareness of the Office of Workplace Services and the Office of the Employment Advocate.
The Department of the Environment and Water Resources will be provided with additional funding to enable a further $84.0 million payment for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Structural Adjustment Package. These increases are partially offset by savings in other programmes.
$20.7 million is proposed for the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs for the Jobs, Education and Training Child Care fee assistance programme to provide affordable child care to an additional 3,500 recipients in 2006-07. The Department will also receive a further $10 million to assist 4,700 volunteer organisations purchase equipment.
An additional $22.9 million will be provided to the Department of Finance and Administration to provide Senators and Members with additional resources to represent their constituents effectively, and also to provide one additional electorate officer to each member of the House and the Senate to enable Senators and Members to better service the needs of their constituents and fulfil their Parliamentary duties.
It is proposed to provide $30.4 million to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to reimburse it for the expenses it incurred evacuating Australian citizens and their immediate dependants from Lebanon.
The Department of Health and Ageing will be provided with $15 million to fund an additional 40 applications for e-Health broadband infrastructure grants. In addition, $49.8 million will be made available to the Department for a range of programmes which had unspent appropriation in 2005-06.
The Department of Human Services will receive $11.6 million to enable patients to claim a Medicare rebate electronically at their doctor’s surgery via the EFTPOS network. The Department will also receive $36.7 million to centralise project management and procurement activities for the Health and Social Services Access Card project. These additional funds are offset from Access Card savings by Centrelink and Medicare Australia which are reported in the Statement of Savings document.
An increase of $14.6 million will be provided for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to introduce a formal citizenship test, while an additional $13.7 million is proposed for workload increases flowing from an increase in case volume and case complexity in several visa categories.
An additional $136.1 million is proposed for the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources to provide rebates to encourage consumers to purchase new Liquefied Petroleum Gas vehicles and convert existing vehicles to use LPG. The Department will also be provided with an additional $10 million for the Cyclone Larry Business Assistance Fund which had unspent appropriation from 2005-06.
A further $13.1 million is proposed for the Department of Transport and Regional Services to meet net funding requirements of administering and providing services to the Territories; and
An additional $47.5 million will be provided to the Australian Tax Office to help deliver the Simplified Superannuation suite of reforms that sweep away the complex tax arrangements surrounding superannuation and increase retirement incomes and boost incentives to work and save.
The balance of the amount in Appropriation Bill (No. 3) relate to estimates variations, reclassifications and other minor measures.
I table the “Statement of Savings Expected in Annual Appropriations”, and I commend the bill to the Senate.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 4) 2006-2007
Appropriation Bill (No. 4) provides additional funding to agencies for:
- expenses in relation to grants to the States under section 96 of the Constitution and for payments to the Territories, and local government authorities; and
- non-operating purposes such as equity injections and loans.
The total additional appropriation being sought in Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2006-2007 is almost $637 million.
The principal factors contributing to the additional requirement since the 2006-2007 Budget include $277.4 million in additional payments to the States, Territories and local government authorities, including:
- $222.5 million to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to support primary producers in regions that have been declared eligible for Exceptional Circumstances assistance support;
- additional compensation payments totalling $35.4 million to New South Wales and Victoria under the Snowy Hydro Limited corporatisation agreements. The payments compensate for the lower dividends received by these States from Snowy Hydro Limited as a result of the company now paying company tax, ensuring that the States are not penalised by the new structure. The additional payments arise because the sale of the company will not proceed.
Bill 4 also proposes $359.6 million in additional appropriation for non-operating expenses, the more significant of which I now outline.
The Department of Defence will be allocated $49.7 million to acquire protective equipment to enhance the security and effectiveness of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. It is also proposed to provide $18.6 million to the Australian Defence Force to meet the cost of responding to the civil unrest in East Timor. In addition, the Australian Defence Force will be provided with $14.2 million to fund the first stage of the Enhanced Land Force initiative. These funding increases are partially offset by savings in other programmes.
Capital funding of $22.5 million will be provided to the Australian Federal Police to increase its capacity to respond to peace-keeping and peace restoration assignments.
In addition, capital funding of $17.3 million is proposed for the Office of Workplace Services to fund office fit-outs associated with its expanded regional presence and to develop an information technology application to manage claims and infringements.
It is proposed to provide the Department of Finance and Administration with $60 million for the construction of the Christmas Island Immigration Reception and Processing Centre. This additional funding is required to meet increased project costs including in relation to the lengthy break-down of the Christmas Island port crane.
The Department of Human Services will be provided with $34.4 million in capital to centralise project management and procurement activities for the Health and Social Services Access Card project. These additional funds will be offset by savings in Centrelink and Medicare Australia.
An additional $12 million is proposed for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to reimburse the Department for workload increases flowing from an increase in case volume and case complexity in several visa categories.
The Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources will receive an additional $28.8 million to cover an increased liability for compensation payments accrued in 2005-06 to New South Wales and Victoria under the Snowy Hydro Limited corporatisation agreements.
Finally, the Australian Tax Office will receive additional capital of $11 million to help deliver the Simplified Superannuation reforms.
I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Ordered that further consideration of the second reading of these bills be adjourned to the first day of the next period of sittings, in accordance with standing order 111.