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Thursday, 2 April 1987
Page: 1738

Senator BUTTON (Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce)(2.13) —I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave not granted.

Senator BUTTON —Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 1986-87, together with Appropriation Bill (No. 4) and the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 2), which I shall introduce shortly, comprises the Additional Estimates for 1986-87. In these Bills, Parliament is asked to appropriate moneys to meet essential and unavoidable expenditures additional to the appropriations made for 1986-87 under Appropriation Acts (Nos 1 and 2) and the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Act. These additional appropriations are required to meet commitments that have been approved by the Government since the Budget as well as requirements of an ongoing nature. The principal factors underlying the requirements include certain unavoidable cost and price increases since the Budget was prepared. Although the Budget figuring contained allowances for prospective wage and salary increases, those amounts were not then appropriated, and funds are now required to meet the costs of awards and determinations made since that time, including some $35m for the effect of the first tier wage increase which was part of the package announced by the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission on 10 March 1987. No provision is made in these Bills in anticipation of the negotiation of second tier increases. Any such increase will be met under the separate appropriation provisions in section 5 of the Appropriation Act (No. 1) and the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Act 1986-87.

Of the additional appropriations in the three Additional Estimates Bills totalling $419.3m, $290.5m is sought in Appropriation Bill (No. 3), $127.6m in Appropriation Bill (No. 4) and $1.2m in the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 2.) These amounts are offset in part by savings in the appropriations made by Appropriation Acts (Nos 1 and 2) and the Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Act, 1986-87, reflecting the Government's continued determination to achieve savings in expenditure for ongoing programs wherever possible. These savings, amounting to $384m, are detailed under the relevant appropriation headings in the document `Statement of Savings Expected in Annual Appropriations' which has been distributed to honourable senators.

After allowing for prospective savings, the appropriations now sought represent a net increase of $35.3m in expenditures financed from annual appropriations. As a proportion of total estimated outlays-encompassing both annual and standing appropriations-this increase amounts to 0.05 per cent.

I now outline some of the main areas in respect of which the Government has found it necessary to seek additional provisions in the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) to meet expenditure for the ordinary annual services of the Government. Some $8.8m is included under the Department of Communications, primarily for a management-initiated redundancy scheme in the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to be fully offset by a reduction in its ongoing appropriations in 1987-88, and a reallocation by the ABC between its appropriations.

In the 1986-87 Budget, the Government announced the amalgamation of the ABC and the Special Broadcasting Service, with corresponding savings of $1m against the appropriations for each organisation. The delay in the Senate in passing the enabling legislation has postponed the merger until at least the end of this financial year. The Additional Estimates now provide for a reinstatement of that $2m.

Eighteen million dollars is sought for the Department of Defence to cover price increases and additional approved commitments for buildings and works projects and $29.5m is included under the Department of Industry, Technology and Commerce for a new fertiliser subsidy scheme, as set out in the Fertiliser Subsidy Act 1986. The new scheme replaces the previous nitrogenous and phosphate fertiliser subsidies and is completely offset by reduced expenditure under standing appropriations.

Also, $33.8m is included under the Department of Veterans' Affairs primarily for higher nursing home and public and private hospital charges for veterans, together with an increased demand for these services. A fairly large component of the increase-around $10.6m-is for a transfer between appropriations within the Department and, of course, is fully offset.

Eight point six million dollars is also included under the Department of Veterans' Affairs as it was not recognised that the special appropriations under the Veterans' Entitlement Act did not cover payments for the commutation of dependant's pensions. I commend the Bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator Chaney) adjourned.