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Thursday, 26 November 2009
Page: 12968

Dr EMERSON (Minister for Small Business, Independent Contractors and the Service Economy, Minister Assisting the Finance Minister on Deregulation and Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs) (9:21 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2009-2010 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 Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and local government authorities; and for non-operating purposes such as equity injections and the acquisition of administered assets.

The total additional appropriation being sought in Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2009-2010 is $310.9 million, the more significant amounts of which I now outline.

The government proposes an additional appropriation of $167 million for the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. This includes funding for the establishment of a Local Government Reform Fund to help councils manage their infrastructure and to plan for their future needs; and funding under the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program to support investment in community infrastructure, such as libraries, community centres, sports grounds and environmental infrastructure.

The total of $167 million includes amounts which have been previously provided as follows:

First, an amount of $114.9 million has been reclassified from administered expenses in Appropriation Act (No. 1) to make payments direct to local government for the East Kimberley Development Package

Second, an amount of $18.3 million has been reclassified from payments which were to be made under the Federal Financial Relations Act 2009 to payments direct to local government for various Nation Building Roads to Recovery projects

Third, an amount of $10 million, which was unspent last financial year due to delays in the negotiation of funding arrangements, is proposed for the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program.

These additional appropriations are fully offset by savings against the original appropriations and estimates and thus will not lead to additional expenditure.

A reallocation of appropriation is proposed for the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts for the National Solar Schools Program. The department will receive funding of $19.8 million as a state, ACT, NT and local government item, matched by reductions in Appropriation Act (No. 1) administered expense funding, to facilitate that component of the program which is delivered through the states for non-government schools. In addition, funding of $15.8 million has been brought forward from 2012-13 for the National Solar Schools Program to meet demand in the current financial year for non-government schools.

The government will provide the Department of Health and Ageing with $26 million capital funding in response to the H1N1 influenza virus pandemic to purchase H1N1 influenza vaccine and fund the associated clinical trials.

An amount of $34.1 million is proposed for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to expand the accommodation capacity at Christmas Island in response to increased irregular maritime arrivals.

The remaining amounts that appear in bill No.4 relate to estimates variations, minor reclassifications and other minor measures.

I would like to turn now to the general drawing right limits for the nation-building funds, which specify the maximum limit on payments from the funds in a financial year. The Education Investment Fund and Health and Hospitals Fund general drawing rights limits proposed in this bill will replace the limits declared in Appropriation Act (No. 2) 2009-10, reflecting recently announced funding for the Giant Magellan Telescope and minor adjustments in the timing of payments from the funds.

Bill No.4 also includes a new clause that provides that where a GST qualifying amount arises for payments made in reliance on a general drawing right limit, the limit will increase by the amount of the GST qualifying amount. This makes clear that the general drawing rights limits are the sum of the amounts stated plus any GST qualifying amounts. This clause also covers payments made in 2008-09.

Appropriation Bill (No.4) also includes a new clause to give effect to the Government’s decision to reduce the amounts of unspent or uncommitted depreciation and make-good funding that the parliamentary departments have accumulated since the introduction of accrual appropriations in 1999-2000. This clause will operate separately and in addition to the current appropriation reduction provisions that are contained within the parliamentary departments appropriation acts.

It has been necessary to include this clause in bill No.4 because there is no additional estimates appropriation bill proposed for the parliamentary departments this financial year. The clause will apply to the departmental outputs and administered expenses appropriations of the three parliamentary departments. It is intended that the new clause will only appear in Bill No.4 and will not be required in future bills. The proposed new clause is discussed in the explanatory memorandum. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Lindsay) adjourned.