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Thursday, 10 March 2005
Page: 127


Senator COONAN (Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) (4:26 PM) —I move:

That these bills be now read a second time.

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

Leave granted.

The speeches read as follows—

APPROPRIATION (PARLIAMENTARY DEPARTMENTS) BILL (NO. 2) 2004-2005

Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 2) seeks additional funding of $349,000 for the Parliamentary Departments.

The largest component of these funds relates to increased expenses of the Citizenship Visit Programme.

The Parliamentary Departments have also reported savings of $106,000, which relate to movements in Comcover premiums.

I commend the bill to the Senate.


APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 3) 2004-2005

It is with great pleasure that I introduce Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2004-2005.

There are three Additional Estimates Bills this year: Appropriation Bill (No. 3), Appropriation Bill (No. 4) and Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 2). I shall introduce the latter two Bills shortly.

The Additional Estimates Bills follow on from the Appropriation Bills that were introduced on the occasion of the 2004-2005 Budget. They seek authority from Parliament for the additional appropriation of monies from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, in order to meet funding requirements that have arisen since the last Budget. I should also mention that the funding associated with the Government’s response to the tsunami will be provided for in separate legislation which is likely to be introduced towards the end of the Autumn Sittings.

The total appropriation being sought through the Additional Estimates Bills this year is some $2,093.2 million, which is partially offset by expected savings in appropriations of around $298.6 million. Taking savings into account, the net increase in appropriation being sought since the 2004-2005 Budget is approximately $1,794.6 million, or about 3.4% 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 Bill 3 this year is around $1,540.2 million. This 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 policy decisions taken by the Government since the last Budget, most of which have been described in the “Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook” document published in December last year.

Bill 3 includes funding for many of the Government’s election commitments. In particular, it provides:

  • $18.5 million to the Department of Health and Ageing to further address mental health issues, including depression and dementia;
  • $10.1 million to establish the National Water Commission and provide programme funding under the Australian Water Fund;
  • $10 million contribution to the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts towards upgrading the Penrith Stadium;
  • $6.9 million to the Attorney-General’s Department for additional funding for the National Community Crime Prevention programme, in addition to the extra $5 million announced before the election;

and

  • $6.5 million to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs as additional funding to commemorate significant anniversaries in 2005, including the ninetieth anniversary of the Gallipoli landings and the sixtieth anniversary of the end of World War Two.
  • The major items of expenditure in the bill include:
  • $365.1 million to the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations in additional funding for Job Network, reflecting the continuation of record levels of performance and employment outcomes under Employment Services Contract 3;
  • a net $103.8 million to the Department of Defence, which includes:

   -       $149.4 million to fund accelerated depreciation for the earlier withdrawal of F-111 fighter planes and two guided missile frigates;

   and

   -       $85.1 million in indexation adjustments;

  • $123.5 million to establish Tourism Australia;
  • $78.7 million to the Department of Family and Community Services to fund Centrelink costs for the recent Budget measure, More Help for Families;
  • $60 million to the Australian Taxation Office to provide transitional grants to state funded organizations which will become ineligible for an exemption from Fringe Benefits Tax as public benevolent organizations;
  • $42.1 million to the Department of Environment and Heritage to enhance and supplement the Great Barrier Reef Structural Adjustment Package;

and

  • $24.3 million to the Department of Health and Ageing for the Childhood Obesity Package.

The remaining amount in Bill 3—around $690.7 million—relates to estimates variations and other measures.

I table the “Statement of Savings Expected in Annual Appropriations”, and I commend the bill to the Senate.


APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 4) 2004-2005

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 Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory; and
  • non-operating purposes such as equity injections and loans.

The total additional appropriation being sought in Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2004-2005 is around $552.6 million.

The principal factors contributing to the additional requirement since the 2004-2005 Budget include $81.8 million in additional payments to the States and Territories. These payments include the fulfilment of election commitments from last year, such as:

  • $30 million to the Department of Transport and Regional Services for the expansion of the Roads to Recovery programme;
  • $10 million to the Department of Health and Ageing to develop a prototype, world-class cancer centre at the Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital;
  • $5 million to the Department of Health and Ageing to establish a national critical care and trauma response centre at Royal Darwin Hospital;

and

  • $4.1 million to the Department of Health and Ageing for a new positron emission tomography scanner at Westmead Hospital.

Another major component of the payments to the States and Territories is $17.7 million to the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources for additional compensation to Victoria and New South Wales for company taxes paid through Snowy Hydro Limited.

Bill 4 also proposes $420.8 million in additional appropriation for non-operating expenses. Election commitments also feature in these payments, including :

  • $11 million to the Australian Customs Service for new mail, biological and chemical screening capacities;

and

  • $6.4 million to the Australian Federal Police for specialist counter-terrorism equipment.

The remaining components of Bill 4’s non-operating items include:

  • $84.6 million to the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources to pay the Government’s loan guarantee for the Australian Magnesium Corporation ahead of schedule, extinguishing the $90 million liability;
  • a net $76.5 million to the Department of Defence which is largely related to reclassifying the logistics support budget from maintenance related expenses to the purchase of repairable items;
  • $72.2 million to the Department of Transport and Regional Services to reclassify capital works in the Indian Ocean Territories from departmental to administered appropriations;
  • $65.8 million to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Austrade to enhance security in Australian diplomatic missions, including blast proofing windows;

and

  • $25.7 million to the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations to address the cash requirements of expenses incurred in relation to the Job Network in 2003-04, reflecting the high levels of activity and outcomes under Employment Services Contract 3.

Finally, the bill includes $50 million for a new administered expense for the National Water Commission. These grant and programme funds represent the first part of the Government’s election policy to establish the Australian Water Fund.

I commend the bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator Coonan) adjourned.