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BUDGET 1999-2000 : Budget Paper No. 2 - Measures Introduced up to the 1999-2000 Budget : Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry



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Measures Introduced up to the 1999-2000 Budget

Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Pork Industry Assistance Package - further measures
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will provide a further $ 6 million to the Pork Industry Assistance Package.  Of this, $ 1 million represents a reallocation of funds from the National Pork Industry Development Grants programme .

This measure has been designed to assist the most severely affected pork producers exit pork production voluntarily through the provision of financial assistance. It will assist those pork producers who may be in financial difficulty, are unable to borrow and who have made the decision to exit the pork industry, to do so with dignity, and without exhausting all their family assets.

Attorney General’s

Republic Referendum Advertising Campaigns
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will provide $ 15 million to be shared equally for the national advertising campaign promoting the arguments for and against the republic model.  The advertising campaign is to be conducted in the 3-4 week period leading up to the referendum. 

In addition, the Government will provide $ 0.7 million to the Referendum Taskforce for expert legal and administrative support in relation to the conduct of the campaigns and the referendum process.

Communications, Information Technology and the Arts

Assistance to Community Broadcasters for costs associated with commercialisation of the transmission network
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government has agreed to provide additio nal assistance of $ 80,000 per annum to community broadcasters (through the Community Broadcasting Foundation ) to meet increasing costs from commercialisation of the national transmission network.  Funds will be provided through allocation of existing resourcing for the National Transmission Authority .

Further Information

The Community Broadcasting Foundation will allocate this funding to its members according to established guidelines.

Restriction of access to adult telephone services regime
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will address community concerns that telephone sex lines are too easily accessed by children. Additional resources will be provided to the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA).

Proposed regulatio ns will prohibit the supply of telephone sex services where the telephone company bills the customer for the service except where:

  • the customer has given their prior written agreement to telephone sex services being accessed using their telephone service;
  • the customer has been given a personal identification number (PIN) which must be used to access the service;  and
  • the service is supplied using a specific number range (1901).

This measure will reduce the number of instances when an unauthorised person (us ually a child of the household) calls a telephone sex line without the permission of the person who is liable for the telephone account (usually the parent).

Funding for this measure will be offset by savings in the departmental expenses of the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts.

Education, Training and Youth Affairs

Redevelop ABSTUDY payment and management system
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

This measure reflects increased departmental expenses to fund Centrelink to upgrade the ABSTUDY payment and management system to effect the new ABSTUDY benefits arrangements and to make the system year 2000 compliant.  Also included are associated staffing costs.

The new ABSTUDY benefit arrangements commence on 1 January 2000.  The Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs announced the new arrangements on 15 December 1998.

Quadrennium funding for non-government schools
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Governme nt will put in place new arrangements for the 2001-2004 quadrennium for non-government schools recurrent funding covering the financial years 2000-01 to 2003-04. 

The major features will be:

  • a new system of needs-based allocation of general recurrent funding to non-government schools, based on a measure of the socio-economic status of the school community rather than the Education Resources Index (ERI). This will involve transition to the new arrangements over the quadrennium;
  • increased funding to support schools during the transitional period;  and
  • provision for additional departmental expenses for implementation of the new arrangements.

The financial impact of this measure arises from:

  • additional funding to schools that benefit from the new arrangements.  Increased funding will be phased-in over the quadrennium, with schools receiving 25 per cent of the increase each year, so that by 2004 schools will be funded at their new level;
  • the funding guarantee to schools that would otherwise have been financially disadvantaged by the new arrangements.  They will have their year 2000 per capita entitlements guaranteed and adjusted in line with the most recently agreed Average Government Schools Recurrent Costs figures; and
  • the Government’s 1998 election commitment, in Raising Standards , to Category 11 funding for Catholic Schools .
Further Information

The main element of the measure is a fairer, more transparent and simpler mechanism for assessment of need in relat ion to non-government school recurrent funding, to enable parents to exercise choice and to remove disincentives to private investment. The approach assesses need according to a measure of the socio-economic status of parents rather than the school’s own resource levels (as measured by the ERI). It is, in effect, a measure of the relative capacity of non-government school communities to support their schools financially.

The main features of the model are that:

  • the minimum and maximum funding levels are set at 13.7 per cent and 70 per cent of the Average Government School Recurrent Costs, with a continuum of funding between the minimum and maximum funding levels;
  • the minimum Commonwealth payment provides a base level of funding for all students attending non-government schools;
  • funding for schools catering to the most disadvantaged families is increased;
  • Catholic systems will attract funding on a basis that essentially preserves over the quadrennium the per capita equivalent of their current funding categories in the year 2000;  and
  • increased entitlements will be phased in over the quadrennium at a rate of 25 per cent of the gain each year, so that by 2004 schools will be funded at their new level.

The measure is part of a package of Government policy decision s related to the 2001-04 school quadrennium.  Related decisions include:

  • an increased focus on accountability and outcomes, with education authorities being required to commit to delivering measurable improvements in the outcomes of all students as a condition of receiving Commonwealth programme funds;  and
  • further streamlining of and simplified allocative mechanisms for targeted programmes which focus primarily on improving participation and outcomes of educationally disadvantaged students.

These decisions build on the work currently under way to establish nationally agreed, measurable targets for Australia’s schools.

Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business

Expansion of Mutual Obligations
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will expand Mutual Obligation (MO) to a wider group of unemployment beneficiaries and strengthen the obligation on those who depend on the community for income support to contribute something in return. This measure is being managed in conjunction with the Department of Family and Community Services.

Further Information

This measure provides for:

  • expanding MO arrangements to 25-34 year olds who reach 12 months on unemployment payments;
  • increasing the hours of participation for people choosing to satisfy their MO through voluntary work or part time paid work;
  • extending eligibility for Work for the Dole (one option open to MO clients) to 25-34 year olds who have been receiving unemployment payments for 12 months or more;  and
  • doubling the number of Work for the Dole places from 25,000 in 1998-99 to 50,000 places in 2000-01.
Redirection of Funds to Mutual Obligations and Indigenous Employment Programme
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will redirect some funding previously allocated to the Job Network to the Expansion of Mutual Obligations ( $ 37 million a year from 2000-01) and the introduction of a new Indigenous Employment Programme ( $ 25 million a year from 1999-2000). At the same time, Job Network funding requirements have been reassessed and the Government has agreed that some funding previously provided for in 1998-99 will be carried forward to 1999-2000 and subsequent years to support the continued development of the Network.

Overall, up to 860,000 placements per year in employment assistance will be provided under these arrangements.

Introduction of an Indigenous Employment Policy
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government is determined to address the severe employment problems faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  Additional funding of $ 25 million per year is being provided as part of an overall policy package which includes enhancements to Job Network , and creation of a new Indigenous Employment Programme (IEP) to replace and expand the former Training for Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders Programme .

The Training for Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders Programme (TAP) had previously been allocated $ 25 million per annum to increase employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians.  Existing funds from the former TAP will be combined with the additional $ 25 million provided under this measure to form a new $ 50 million Indigenous Employment Programme focussed on private sector employment.  A further $ 2 million will be set aside from the Regional Assistance Programme and the Small Business Enterprise Culture Programme to support the generation of indigenous small businesses.

Environment and Heritage

Funding for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to cover increased costs of the Independent Monitor for the Port Hinchinbrook project
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

Under the joint Deed of Agreement between the Commonwe alth and the State of Queensland an independent monitor has been appointed to oversee the construction of marina access from the resort being developed at Port Hinchinbrook, Queensland to the Hinchinbrook Channel.  The channel is part of an area which is listed under the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage .

Lengthy delays in completing the dredging work on the project have resulted in increased activity by the independent monitor.  This delay has increased the cost to the Commonwealth from $ 165,000 to $ 315,000.  The measure will fund the extended monitoring programme through to the completion of commitments under the Deed of Agreement.

Family and Community Services

Additional Funding for Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement for net increase in public housing costs, as a result of tax reform
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

This measure provides funding for the 1999 Commonwealth State Housing Agreement (CSHA) in respect of the net increase in public housing costs as a result of taxation reform.  This funding was agreed at the April 1999 Premiers’ Conference .

The measure provides an additional $ 269 million for the CSHA, spread evenly over the final three years of the Agreement, starting in 2000-01, with the distribution among the States and Territories to be agreed.

Finance and Administration

Exmouth Emergency Relief Fund
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

Following the devastation of Cyclone Vance in the area around Exmouth in Western Australia in March 1999, the Commonwealth agreed to contribute $ 5 million in 1998-99 as part of its commitment to a joint Commonwealth/Western Australian fund to assist in recovery.

The Prime Minister also announced financial support measures to provide immediate financial assistance to victims.  One of these measures is to make ex-gratia payments available to every family whose home was destroyed or severely damaged by the Cyclone.  The payments amount to $ 1,000 for each adult and $ 200 for each child.  The cost of this component of the measure is estimated at $ 400,000 in 1998-99.

These measures are being delivered by the Departments of Finance and Administration and Transport and Regional Services.

Reduction in the Department of Finance and Administration's price of outputs
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

A minor reduction in the price of the Department of Finance and Administration’s outputs in 1999-2000 will be used to finance capital for Internet access for Senators’ and Members’ of Parliament electorate offices.  See also the related capital measure under the Finance and Administration portfolio titled Internet access for Senators’ and Members’ of Parliament electorate offices to improve service delivery to the community .

Health and Aged Care

National Illicit Drug Strategy - early intervention and diversion
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government’s package of measures to fight illicit drug use in the community provides funding for the diversion, by police, of illicit drug users from the criminal justice system into treatment. The package also includes funding for prevention, early intervention, education, including school based drug education, and supply control measures. The package was agreed at the Council of Australian Governments on 9 April 1999 and will cost $ 221 million over four years. This is in addition to:

  • $ 215 million provided for the National Illicit Drug Strategy (NIDS) in the 1997-98 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook and the 1998-99 Budget;  and
  • $ 80 million for other illicit drug related measures in this Budget.
Tough on Drugs in the Community

This initiative will support the diversion of illicit drug users by police into counselling or treatment by creating an increased assessment and referral capacity; providing additional funding for a range of community-based educat ion, assessment and treatment services ; and increasing capacity for education and training of health workers in the assessment and management of people with drug problems.

Supporting measures

These include initiatives which focus on improving community awa reness of the harm caused by illicit drugs, for example, by building on the existing education and information campaign on illicit drugs. Also included are initiatives to expand community involvement in strategies to respond to the harm caused by illicit drugs and strengthen and support community capacity to cope with illicit drug problems.

Tough on Drugs in Schools

Tough on Drugs in Schools supports the efforts of principals, teachers, parents and school communities in strengthening the attack on drug pushers and rejecting illicit drugs in schools. This will be achieved through the development of enhanced protocols, education and resource materials, and local summits to help school communities develop better ways of handling drug use in the school environment on a national basis.  The Government has described this as a zero tolerance approach.

Tough on the Supply of Drugs

The Commonwealth will build on the National Illicit Drug Strategy to expand Australia's capacity to intercept drugs before they reach Australia and to attack distribution networks in Australia. Initiatives include expanding the Law Enforcement Cooperation Programme and the overseas liaison network of the Australian Federal Police , research on the links between drugs and crime, and enhancement of law enforcement agencies' technological capacity and their capacity to use financial intelligence. A further $ 0.4 million is also provided for related equipment purchases.

The measure also includes resourcing for an evaluation of this phase of the National Illicit Drug Strategy, which will be undertaken by the Department of Finance and Administration. The evaluation will examine the effectiveness of each of the above initiatives in achieving their intended objectives and outcomes, and assess the overall effectiveness of the strategy in addressing the problem of illicit drugs.

This measure delivers on the Government’s election commitment in Tough on Drugs - Strengthening the Fight .

Further Information

See also the following related NIDS expense measures:

  • National Illicit Drug Strategy - Additional funding for drug treatment under the Health and Aged Care portfolio;
  • Enhancement of the National School Drug Education Strategy under the Education, Training and Youth Affairs portfolio;
  • Tough on drugs - four mobile strike teams under the Attorney-General’s portfolio;
  • Tough on drugs - increased search capacity and purchase of x-ray technology to enhance capacity for drug detection at the nation's borders under the Attorney-General’s portfolio,

and the following related capital measures:

  • National Illicit Drug Strategy - early intervention and diversion under the Attorney-General’s portfolio;  and
  • Tough on drugs - increased search capacity and purchase of x-ray technology to enhance capacity for drug detection at the nation's borders under the Attorney-General’s portfolio.
Assisting rural medical students through their studies
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will establish a Rural Australia Medical Undergraduate Scholarships scheme. The measure will provide financial assistance to undergraduate medical students who have completed their secondary education in a rural area to help meet accommodation, living and travel costs incurred while studying at tertiary level.

This is one of a number of long term strategies that aim to increase the general practice workforce in rural and remote communities. The undersupply of doctors in these areas is well documented. Evidence suggests that medical graduates that have a rural origin are more likely to return to rural areas to practice once they have completed their training. However, there are a number of barriers that prevent rural students from considering tertiary education, particularly the financial burden associated with travelling to, and living, in the city. The Rural Australia Medical Undergraduate Scholarships Scheme aims to reduce these financial barriers. It is envisaged that up to 100 scholarships could be funded each year.

Further Information

The Rural Workforce Agencies located in each State would have responsibility for administering the scholarship scheme.

International Year of Older Persons - celebration to mark the start of cultural change
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government wi ll contribute $ 5 million towards an improved quality of life for older Australians through the implementation of the second stage of a targeted communication strategy aimed at changing perceptions about ageing. The strategy will:

  • enhance awareness of the changing age demographics in Australia and related issues;
  • begin a lasting cultural change to improve Australians' perceptions of older people;
  • foster intergenerational harmony;
  • promote better planning by individuals for their older age;
  • encourage community and business groups to respond to issues that are raised; and
  • improve awareness of the International Year of Older Persons and inform the community about associated Commonwealth activities and initiatives.

This measure builds on the first stage of the com munication strategy, undertaken during 1998-99.

 

Health and medical research boost
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will provide an additional $ 613.7 million over six years to strengthen the capacity of the health and medical research sector and increase Australia's investment in national research priorities. The funding will more than double the base research funding ( $ 165 million in 1998-99) of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) by the year 2005.

One of the focuses of this investment will be the enhancement of Australia’s expertise in medical genomics and other leading edge technologies.  The additional funding will also allow increased investment in a broad range of high impact research undertaken through the NHMRC.  An additional focus will be placed on identifying and addressing research priorities, with a strategic emphasis on those areas in need of further research and the development of improved health care interventions.

Further Information

The increased funding will enable the provision of improved research facilities and an increased level of research activity, which will be complemented by other initiatives to provide additional career and training opportunities for health and medical researchers.

In addition, a full time leader will be appointed to the NHMRC. This will enable the NHMRC to play an enhanced role in ensuring research investment in areas of national priority, and that the increased investment is ultimately translated into improved health outcomes.

Increase funding for the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will increase funding for the Private Healt h Insurance Ombudsman to allow it to meet with a growing workload flowing from the increase in health fund membership, and rising consumer awareness about initiatives being undertaken by the Government.

The additional funding will be paid for by the collection of increased levies from health funds as identified in the related revenue measure in Part II titled Increase Private Health Insurance Levy .

Further Information

The Private Health Insurance Ombudsman is an independent body that deals with complaints a bout private health insurance. The Ombudsman deals mainly with complaints about private health insurance arrangements between funds, hospitals, the medical profession and fund contributors.

The Commonwealth recoups the expenses of the Ombudsman through a levy on registered health benefits organisations.

Industry, Science and Resources

Contribute to construction of Maitland Federation Centre
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will contribute $ 2 million in 1998-99 to the construction of a multi-purpose community and convention centre for the people of Maitland.  The development of the Centre will provide the Maitland region with a venue suitable for multi-sport, community and entertainment activities.  This measure meets the election commitment made by the Prime Minister.

Grant to Gum San Heritage Museum, Ararat, Victoria
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will provide $ 0.2 million in 1998-99 to assist with the construction of the Gum San Heritage Museum, including information displays which will feature the history of the goldfields and the contribution made by the Chinese community, a restaurant and seminar facilities.  Consistent with the Government’s broader agenda for strengthening regional Australia , the development of the Museum will help implement the Tourism Action Agenda - the National Action Plan for Tourism - and will benefit the regional economy through increased tourism expenditure and employment.

This measure delivers on the Government’s election commitment.

Strategy for tourism development, Burnie, Tasmania
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

In 1998-99 the Government will commit $ 50,000 to the development of a strategy to assist tourism in the Burnie region of Tasmania.  The tourism strategy will identify tourism projects and actions which will contribute to a more innovative and competitive regional tourism industry, with the capacity to help overcome current challenges in the region including structural readjustment, the decline in the length of stay of visitors, and relatively low growth in international and domestic tourism.  Consistent with the Government’s broader agenda for strengthening regional Australia , the project will help implement the Tourism Action Agenda - the National Action Plan for Tourism .  Completion of the strategy is expected in 1999-2000.

This measure delivers on the Government’s election commitment in A Stronger Tasmania .

Inveresk Woodchopping Stadium
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

The Government will provide $ 60,000 in 1998-99 for a new Inveresk Woodchopping Stadium in Launceston, Tasmania.  The Stadium will contribute to an innovative and competitive regional tourism industry and be used for woodchopping competitions; other visitor events; and as exhibition space for information and historic displays. Consistent with the Government’s broader agenda for strengthening regional Australia , the new stadium will help implement the Tourism Action Agenda - the National Action Plan for Tourism .  Completion is expected during 1999-2000.

This measure delivers on the Government’s election commitment in A Stronger Tasmania .

Prime Minister and Cabinet

Commonwealth contribution to the Crookwell bushfire appeal
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

Th e Commonwealth contributed $ 50,000 in February 1999 to the Crookwell bushfire appeal to provide early assistance to the victims of the devastating fire that swept through the New South Wales Southern and Central Tablelands.  The Crookwell Shire Council established the appeal, immediately after the fire, to which this funding was provided by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Additionally, the Department of Finance and Administration, through the Department of Family and Community Services and Centrelink provided ex-gratia payments to affected families in the district.  These payments were at a rate equivalent to the Newstart Allowance .  The total amount paid out is approximately $ 70,000.

The total cost of this measure is estimated to be around $ 120,000 in 1998-99.

Treasury

A New Tax System - grants to balance State and Territory budgets
Expense ($m)

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Explanation

At the 1999 Premiers’ Conference, the Commonwealth, States and Territories signed the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Reform of Commonwealth-State Financial Arrangements The Agreement will facilitate the implementation of the reforms proposed in the Commonwealth's A New Tax System . The new arrangements will provide the States and Territories with all of the revenue from the GST, which will replace the existing financial assistance grants and allow them to remove a range of inefficient taxes.

As foreshadowed previously by the Commonwealth, the Agreement provides for transitional financial assistance to be paid to the States and Territories, in the form of a loan in the first year of reform and grants thereafter, to meet the Commonwealth's guara ntee that the budgetary position of each State and Territory will be no worse off in the initial years following the introduction of the GST.

At the Premiers’ Conference on 9 April, the Commonwealth agreed to allocate additional funding for its guarantee to the States and Territories in relation to:

  • the impact on State and Territory budgets over the first three years of reform of the abolition of Wholesales Sales Tax equivalent payments by Government business enterprises; and
  • ensuring that the States and Territories will not be disadvantaged over the first three years of reform by the Commonwealth’s undertaking that local government will benefit from the impact of changes to indirect taxes through lower prices on their purchases.

T he Commonwealth also agreed to more generous arrangements for guarantee grants in the third year of reform, so that States and Territories with gains to their budgets in that year may retain all of those gains and the Commonwealth will fund those States and Territories with budget shortfalls.

Further to the additional assistance to be provided by way of the grants to balance State and Territory budgets, the Commonwealth agreed at the Premiers' Conference to separately provide extra funding to the States and Territories to meet higher State public housing costs resulting from tax reform (subject to the resolution of the new Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement).