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Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Page: 1287


Senator JACINTA COLLINS (VictoriaParliamentary Secretary for School Education and Workplace Relations) (17:19): 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 BILL (NO. 3) 2011-2012

There are two Additional Estimates Bills this year:

Appropriation Bill (No. 3) and Appropriation Bill (No. 4).

The Additional Estimates Bills seek appropriation authority from Parliament for the additional expenditure of money from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. These funds are sought in order to meet requirements that have arisen since the last Budget as well as to take into account impacts on Australia’s economic and fiscal outlook that have arisen as a result of the European sovereign debt crisis and instability on the Global financial markets. The total additional appropriation being sought through Additional Estimates Bills 3 and 4 this year is a little over $3.1 billion.

The recent Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook identified several impacts on the Australian economy that have implications to Australia’s near term outlook.

Since last year’s Budget, the European sovereign debt crisis has had an increased impact on International growth and overall market stability. Despite the pressures this has placed on the Australian economic and fiscal outlook, Australia continues to outperform the developed world in economic growth, low unemployment, resources investment and strong public finances. The Government remains on track to deliver a budget surplus in the 2012-13 financial year.

Turning now to Appropriation Bill (No. 3); the total appropriation being sought in this Bill is $2.8 billion. This proposed appropriation arises from: changes in the estimates of program expenditure; variations in the timing of payments; forecast increases in program take-up; reclassifications; and from policy decisions taken by the Government since the last Budget.

I now outline the major appropriations proposed in the Bill:

The Government will provide $1.3 billion in appropriations across several agencies to support its commitment to a Clean Energy Future for Australia.

The Government will provide $1 billion to the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency to provide cash payments to highly emissions-intensive coal-fired power stations to assist their transition to a carbon price.

The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency will be provided with $106 million to complete remaining complex inspections and rectification services under the Home Insulation Safety Plan.

The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency will receive $37 million for the establishment of the Clean Energy Regulator which will administer the carbon pricing mechanism. The regulator will be responsible for monitoring and assessing the emissions data as well as enforcing compliance with the carbon pricing mechanism.

The Government will provide a further $100,000 in 2011-12 for the Department of Finance and Deregulation to conduct Gateway reviews of the establishment and operation of the Clean Energy Regulator

The Government will also provide the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency with $6 million to assist the delivery of information about the implications of a carbon price on small businesses and other community organisations.

The Government will provide the coal mining industry, through the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, with $222 million to assist the most emissions intensive coal mines to transition to a carbon price. The assistance includes a Coal Sector Jobs Package and a Coal Mining Abatement Technology Support Package.

The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities will receive $36 million to establish a Biodiversity Fund. This fund will support the establishment, restoration, protection and management of biodiverse carbon stores, for example reforestation and revegetation in areas of high conservation value including wildlife corridors and action to prevent the spread of invasive species across connected landscapes. The Department will also be provided with $2 million as part of a package to support the Tasmanian Forest Industry as it transitions to a more sustainable and diversified industry.

The Government will provide $49 million to the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities to support the management of extractive industry activities, particularly coal seam gas and major coal mining developments. This initiative aims to build scientific evidence and understanding of the impacts on water resources of coal seam gas extraction and large coal mines.

AusAid will receive $30 million in Official Development Assistance as part of Australia’s contribution to the Horn of Africa as it deals with drought and famine. This humanitarian assistance will be provided through various organisations such as the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the World Food Programme and other Non-Government organisations.

AusAid will also receive $10 million of funding to implement the International Mining for Development Centre, provide scholarships through the Australian Mining Awards Program and build administrative capacity in Africa.

The Department of Human Services will be provided with $36 million to facilitate payments to assist households in meeting the additional costs associated with a carbon price. This funding supports the Government’s commitment to helping families with children, the aged, pensioners, and people with a disability adjust to the carbon pricing mechanism. The Government will also provide support to other income support recipients and low income earners.

The Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry will receive supplementary appropriations to support businesses within the live cattle exports industry. The Government will provide $24 million of assistance to businesses affected by the temporary suspension of live cattle exports to Indonesia and to improve animal welfare outcomes. The assistance will include a combination of assistance payments and the subsidisation of low interest loans to support businesses directly affected by the interruption in trade.

The Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry will also be provided with $30 million to extend the Carbon Farming Initiative to include two new programs, Carbon Farming Futures and the Indigenous Carbon Farming Fund. The Department will also receive $45 million to support the Tasmanian Forest Industry support initiative being led by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.

The Government will provide the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education with $9 million to assist the manufacturing industry transition to a low carbon economy. The assistance will comprise direct assistance to manufacturing businesses with an energy consumption of at least 300 megawatt hours of annual electricity or 5 terajoules of natural gas. The assistance will include grants to trade exposed industries such as metal forging and foundry industries as well as targeted assistance to improve energy efficiencies within these industries.

The Government will provide $14 million to Norfolk Island through the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport. The funding will support the Norfolk Island Government in the provision of essential services. The funding will also help the Norfolk Island Government to develop reforms that will improve its efficiency and effectiveness.

The Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport will also receive $16 million to support the Tasmanian Forestry Industry support being led by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.

The Government will also provide the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport with $15 million for the redevelopment of Bellerive Oval in Tasmania. The redevelopment will include an increased capacity for the venue and upgraded facilities. This project will ensure that Tasmanians will get to see more sporting events in Hobart.

The Department of Human Services will be appropriated $10 million to facilitate payments to strengthen incentives for parents to have their children immunised. This funding supports changes to the eligibility criteria for the Family Tax Benefit Part A as well as expanding the immunisation programme to include meningococcal C, Pneumococcal and Chicken pox vaccines.

Movement of Funds Information

I now outline the major reclassifications proposed in Bill 3:

The Government will reappropriate $45 million across six Departments.

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations will be reappropriated $20 million related to providing employment services to job seekers.

The Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport) will be reappropriated $7 million relating to the sport and recreation program.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry will be reappropriated $6 million across several programs including those that support the fishing industry, drought relief programs and sustainable agricultural resources.

The Department of the Treasury will be reappropriated $2 million related to the Education Tax Refund Campaign.

The remaining amounts that appear in Appropriation Bill (No. 3) relate to estimates variations, minor reclassifications and other minor measures.

APPROPRIATION BILL (NO. 4) 2011-2012

Appropriation Bill No. 4 provides additional funding to agencies for:

payments direct to local government, and some national partnership payments through the states, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory;

requirements for departmental equity injections; and

requirements to create or acquire administered assets and to discharge administered liabilities.

The total additional appropriation being sought in Appropriation Bill

(No. 4) 2011-2012 is a little over $341 million, the more significant amounts of which I now outline.

The Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport will be reappropriated $53 million of funds directed to Local Governments and Regional Development. This reappropriation, in part, will be used to offset the amounts provided to the Department earlier in the year through the Advance to the Finance Minister mechanism.

The Government will provide $29 million of capital funding for the establishment of the Clean Energy Regulator which, as outlined in the second reading speech for Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2011-2012, will administer the carbon pricing mechanism.

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations will be provided with $37 million. This is a result of a transfer of $50 million from Appropriation Act (No. 1) 2011-2012 for the Reward for Great Teachers program, offset by payments to government schools that have been transferred to the Department of the Treasury.

The Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education will provide a $25 million loan to Howe and Company Proprietary Limited and its parent company Howe Automotive Limited. The loan is to be fully repaid over ten years with annual interest and principal payments. The provision of this loan and its subsequent repayment have no impact on the Government’s fiscal balance but affect the composition of the Government’s assets.

The remaining amounts that appear in Bill 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 exclusive of GST. The general drawing rights limits for the Building Australia Fund, the Education Investment Fund and the Health and Hospitals Fund proposed in this Bill will replace the limits declared in Appropriation Act (No. 2) 2011-12. The limits for the Building Australia Fund and the Health and Hospitals Fund have been increased. The limit of the Education Investment Fund has been decreased. These changes recognise adjustments in the timing of payments to better reflect project milestones and previously announced funding.

The remaining amounts that appear in Appropriation Bill (No. 4) relate to estimates variations, minor reclassifications and other minor measures.

Ordered that further consideration of the second reading of these bills be adjourned to the first sitting day of the next period of sittings, in accordance with standing order 111.

Ordered that the bills be listed on the Notice Paper as separate orders of the day.