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Thursday, 8 February 2007
Page: 3

Mr NAIRN (Special Minister of State) (9:12 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

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 territories, and local government authorities; and
  • non-operating purposes such as equity injections and loans.

The total additional appropriation being sought in Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2006-2007 is almost $637 million.

The principal factors contributing to the additional requirement since the 2006-07 budget include $277.4 million in additional payments to the states, territories and local government authorities, including:

  • $222.5 million to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to support primary producers in regions that have been declared eligible for exceptional circumstances assistance support; and
  • additional compensation payments totalling $35.4 million to New South Wales and Victoria under the Snowy Hydro Ltd corporatisation agreements. The payments compensate for the lower dividends received by these states from Snowy Hydro Ltd as a result of the company now paying company tax, ensuring that the states are not penalised by the new structure.

The additional payments arise because the sale of the company will not proceed. It would be really good if the major shareholders in Snowy Hydro in New South Wales and in Victoria reinvested that $35.4 million that we will be giving them in the company. It will ensure that the company proceeds appropriately in the future. I am very proud of the fact that that the Commonwealth pulled out of the sale of its small amount. This, within 15 minutes, forced New South Wales—who were going to do it all on their own—to pull out. They were going to privatise it all on their own, but, because our minor shareholding did not proceed, they pulled out. It is funny about that; I do not think that Mr Iemma was looking forward to the political heat that was going to be applied to him.

Bill No. 4 also proposes $359.6 million in additional appropriation for non-operating expenses, the more significant of which I now outline.

The Department of Defence will be allocated $49.7 million to acquire protective equipment to enhance the security and effectiveness of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. It is also proposed to provide $18.6 million to the Australian Defence Force to meet the cost of responding to the civil unrest in East Timor. In addition, the Australian Defence Force will be provided with $14.2 million to fund the first stage of the Enhanced Land Force initiative. These funding increases are partially offset by savings in other programs.

Capital funding of $22.5 million will be provided to the Australian Federal Police to increase its capacity to respond to peacekeeping and peace restoration assignments.

In addition, capital funding of $17.3 million is proposed for the Office of Workplace Services to fund office fit-outs associated with its expanded regional presence and to develop an information technology application to manage claims and infringements.

It is proposed to provide the Department of Finance and Administration with $60 million for the construction of the Christmas Island Immigration Reception and Processing Centre. This additional funding is required to meet increased project costs, including in relation to the lengthy breakdown of the Christmas Island port crane.

The Department of Human Services will be provided with $34.4 million in capital to centralise project management and procurement activities for the Health and Social Services Access Card project. These additional funds will be offset by savings in Centrelink and Medicare Australia.

An additional $12 million is proposed for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to reimburse the department for workload increases flowing from an increase in case volume and case complexity in several visa categories.

The Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources will receive an additional $28.8 million to cover an increased liability for compensation payments accrued in 2005-06 to New South Wales and Victoria under the Snowy Hydro Ltd corporatisation agreements.

An additional $14 million will be provided to the Department of the Treasury to meet the government’s obligations under the HIH Appropriation Act 2001.

Finally, the Australian Taxation Office will receive additional capital of $11 million to help deliver the Simplified Superannuation reforms.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Ms Macklin) adjourned.