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Budget 2004: Hardgrave Budget claims don't add up.



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LAURIE FERGUSON MP

Shadow Minister for Population, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs

MEDIA RELEASE

12 May 2004

HARDGRAVE BUDGET CLAIMS DON’T ADD UP Claims that migrant settlement services have received a significant boost in the Budget are not reflected in the fine print of the Portfolio Budget Statement.

On Minister Hardgrave’s own admission, almost 60% of the apparent increase simply reflects previously announced increases in migration program numbers. These automatically produce a flow-on increase in funding for English classes under the Adult

Migrant Education Program (AMEP) and for on-arrival services for refugees under the Integrated Humanitarian Settlement Strategy (IHSS).

The alleged increases in funding as a result of the Settlement Services Review are much harder to substantiate. This is particularly the case with the appropriation item Grants for Migrant Community Services, which encompasses Migrant Resource Centres (MRCs) and migrant welfare projects funded under the Community Settlement Services Scheme (CSSS). The DIMIA Portfolio Budget Statement shows that funding for these only increases from $27.12 million this year to $27.57 million in 2004-05. This is nothing like the multimillion dollar increase claimed in Minister Hardgrave’s media kit.

The Budget confirms that some existing services for established migrant communities are simply being transferred from DIMIA to the Department of Health and Ageing. This is not an increase.

The DIMIA Portfolio Budget Statement appears to show a $12 million cut in funding for the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) and a $2.7 million cut in spending on the Coalition’s multicultural agenda. No explanation is offered for these substantial reductions.

The Opposition will be seeking clarification of these matters through the forthcoming Senate Estimates hearings.

For further information: Laurie Ferguson MP 02 6277 4920

Warren Gardiner 0409 910 004