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Emergency Response Fund Amendment (Disaster Ready Fund) Bill 2022

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2022

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

EMERGENCY RESPONSE FUND AMENDMENT (DISASTER READY FUND) BILL 2022

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of the M i n i s t e r f o r F i n a n c e ,

S e n a t or t he H on Katy Gallagher)

 



T a bl e o f a b b r e vi a tio n s a n d c o m m o n t e r m s

 

A bb re v i a t i on or

c o m m on te r m

Description

Accountable authority

see section 12 of the PGPA Act

Act

means the Emergency Response Fund Amendment (Disaster Ready Fund) Act 2022 to which this Bill relates

ATSILSFF Act

means the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Future Fund Act 2018

COAG Reform Fund

means the COAG Reform Fund established by section 5 of the  COAG Reform Fund Act 2008

DCAF Act

means the DisabilityCare Australia Fund Act 2013

Emergency Management Minister

means:

(a)      if there is a Minister whose title includes “Emergency Management”—that Minister; or

(b)     otherwise—the Minister declared by the Prime Minister, by notifiable instrument, to be the Emergency Management Minister for the purposes of this Act.

ERF Act

means the Emergency Response Fund Act 2019 , as in force immediately prior to the commencement of the Act to which this Bill relates

Finance Department

means the Department administered by the Finance Minister

Finance Minister

has the same meaning as defined in section 8 of the PGPA Act

FDF Act

means the Future Drought Fund Act 2019

Future Fund Act

means the Future Fund Act 2006

Future Fund Board

means the Future Fund Board of Guardians established by section 34 of the Future Fund Act

MRFF Act

means the Medical Research Future Fund Act 2015

NEMA

means the body known as the National Emergency Management Agency

NRRA

means the body known as the National Recovery and Resilience Agency that existed immediately prior to the creation on the NEMA

PGPA Act

means the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013

Responsible Ministers

means the following:

(a)       the Treasurer; and

(b)       the Finance Minister



EMERGENCY RESPONSE FUND AMENDMENT (DISASTER READY FUND) BILL 2022

 

OUTLINE

 

The Emergency Response Fund Amendment (Disaster Ready Fund) Bill 2022 (the Bill) establishes the Disaster Ready Fund to improve Australia’s disaster readiness by investing up to $200 million per annum to build resilience to, prepare for or reduce the risk of future natural disasters, and build the long-term sustainability of communities that are at risk of being affected by a future natural disaster (referred to hereafter as natural disaster resilience and risk reduction ). The Bill repurposes the Emergency Response Fund by turning it into a dedicated ongoing source of funding for natural disaster resilience and risk reduction, to be known as the Disaster Ready Fund.

 

The Bill amends the Emergency Response Fund Act 2019 (ERF Act) to:

a.        change the name of the Emergency Response Fund to the Disaster Ready Fund;

b.       allow up to $200 million per annum to be debited from the Disaster Ready Fund for natural disaster resilience and risk reduction;

c.        allow the responsible Minsters to adjust the maximum disbursement amount via a disallowable legislative instrument; and

d.       facilitate the transfer of responsibility for fund expenditure to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and streamline administrative arrangements in relation to transfers from the fund.

 

The Government will honour the commitments made by the former Government under the Emergency Response Fund in 2022-23. This will provide $50 million for the Coastal and Estuarine Risk Mitigation Program (to reduce the impacts of natural disasters and coastal hazards such as storm surges and coastal inundation) and $150 million to fund recovery and post-disaster resilience measures in the Northern Rivers region of NSW. The Bill will allow these commitments to be met in 2022-23.

 

From 2023-24 onwards, the Disaster Ready Fund will be a dedicated source of funding to provide up to $200 million per annum for important natural disaster resilience and risk reduction initiatives.

 

The responsible Ministers will be required to review the legislated maximum annual disbursement amount at least every five years, and will have the ability to adjust the amount via a disallowable legislative instrument. This will allow the Government to adjust the maximum disbursement amount in the future, in response to investment market or policy considerations. Prior to making any adjustment the responsible Ministers must seek advice from the Future Fund Board on the impact of the proposed adjustment on its ability to comply with the Disaster Ready Fund Act 2019 and the Disaster Ready Fund Investment Mandate. The Emergency Management Minister would also be consulted as part of this process.

 

The administrative responsibility for expenditure from the Emergency Response Fund was formerly the responsibility of Emergency Management Australia in the Department of Home Affairs and transferred to the National Recovery and Resilience Agency (NRRA) on 1 July 2021.

 

On 1 September 2022, the NRRA was merged with Emergency Management Australia to become the NEMA. The Bill makes the legislative amendments required to implement this transfer and to streamline the administration of funding from the Disaster Ready Fund.

 

In addition, the Bill makes some administrative amendments, for consistency with the legislation for other investment funds, to:

a.        require the Emergency Management Minister to request that the Finance Minister transfer amounts from the fund’s Special Account to the COAG Reform Fund (for the purposes of channelling grants to a state or territory); and

b.       allow copies of administrative directions in relation to transfers between special accounts to be exchanged between senior departmental officials instead of Ministers, in instances where the Finance Minister has delegated the relevant power in accordance with the Act.

 

The reporting obligations in Part 5 of the Act will not change. These obligations continue the appropriate level of public reporting on the grants provided from the fund, consistent with requirements under the Commonwealth Grant Rules and Guidelines.

 

The Bill also makes consequential amendments to other Australian Government Investment Fund Acts and the COAG Reform Fund Act 2008 to support a smooth transition from the Emergency Response Fund to the Disaster Ready Fund upon commencement.

 

Financial Impact Statement

 

The changes in the Bill will not have any financial impact.

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

Emergency Response Fund Amendment (Disaster Ready Fund) Bill 2022

Overview of Bill

 

The Bill will rename and repurpose the Emergency Response Fund into the Disaster Ready Fund to improve Australia’s disaster readiness by providing up to $200 million per annum for natural disaster resilience and risk reduction.

 

Human rights implications

 

The Bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in subsection 3(1) of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 . The Bill engages the following rights:

-           Article 11(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) - right to an adequate standard of living, including food, water and housing; and

-           Article 12 of the ICESCR - right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

Right to an adequate standard of living, including food, water and housing

 

Article 11(1) of the ICESCR recognises the right to an adequate standard of living, including food, water and housing. States have an obligation to ensure the availability and accessibility of the resources necessary for the progressive realisation of this right.

 

The Bill seeks to promote this right by providing on-going dedicated funding for natural disaster resilience and risk reduction initiatives. These activities are intended to ensure that the impact of disasters on communities is reduced, including by preventing the destruction of residential dwellings, thereby protecting the right to adequate housing. The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (the Committee) has stated that Article 11 (1) of the ICESCR includes the right to ‘adequate privacy, adequate space, adequate security, adequate lighting and ventilation, adequate basic infrastructure and adequate location with regard to work and basic facilities’. [1] By funding disaster resilience and risk reduction initiatives to reduce the impact of natural disasters on infrastructure, including water, telecommunications and energy infrastructure, this Bill will further protect and promote the right to adequate housing contained in Article 11(1).

 

The Committee has stated that the core content of the right to adequate food implies both the availability and economic and physical accessibility of food. [2] The activities funded by the Disaster Ready Fund will contribute to reducing the impact of natural disasters on the ability of Australian food producers to produce food, and minimise supply chain disruptions caused by natural disasters, thereby improving food security.

 

Right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health

 

Article 12 of the ICESCR recognises the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. The Committee has stated that the right to health embraces a wide range of socio-economic factors that promote conditions in which people can lead a healthy life, and extends to the underlying determinants of health, such as food and nutrition, housing, access to safe and potable water and adequate sanitation, safe and healthy working conditions, and a healthy environment. As discussed above, this Bill will work to protect access to housing, food and water.

 

Furthermore, it is generally accepted that natural disasters can increase the risk of disease outbreak - for example, as a result of the breakdown of sanitation systems. It is also understood that the devastating impacts of natural disasters can also have a negative effect on the mental health of affected communities and individuals. By working to reduce the impact of natural disasters on communities and infrastructure this Bill will support the protection of the physical and mental health of communities and individuals in Australia.

 

Conclusion

 

This Bill is compatible with human rights because it promotes:

·          the right to an adequate standard of living, enshrined in Article 11(1) of the ICESCR; and

·          the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, enshrined in Article 12 of the ICESCR.

 



 

EMERGENCY RESPONSE FUND AMENDMENT (DISASTER READY FUND) BILL 2022

 

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES



Preliminary

Clause 1 - Short title

1.                   Clause 1 is a formal provision specifying the short title of the Act - that is, the Emergency Response Fund Amendment (Disaster Ready Fund) Act 2022 .

Clause 2 - Commencement

2.                   This clause would provide for the commencement of the Act, as set out in the table.

3.                   Item 1 in the table provides that sections 1 to 4 (as well as anything in the Act not elsewhere covered by the table) would commence on the day the Act receives the Royal Assent.

4.                   Item 2 in the table provides that Schedule 1 would commence on a single day to be fixed by Proclamation. However, if the Schedule does not commence within 6 months of the Royal Assent, it would commence on the day after the end of that 6-month period.

5.                   Item 3 in the table provides that Schedule 2 would commence on 1 July 2023.

6.                   Subclause 2(2) provides that any information in column 3 of the table would not be part of the Act. Information may be inserted in column 3 of the table, or information in it may be edited, in any published version of the Act.

Clause 3 - Schedules

7.                   This clause would provide that legislation that is specified in a Schedule to the Act is amended or repealed as set out in the applicable items in the Schedule concerned, and that any other item in a Schedule to the Act has effect according to its terms.

Clause 4 - Consequential amendments of the Emergency Response Fund Investment Mandate Direction 2020

8.                   Subclause 4(1) would enable the responsible Ministers to make certain specified amendments to the Emergency Response Fund Investment Mandate Direction 2020 by legislative instrument during the period between the commencement of this section and the commencement of Schedule 1 to the Act. These amendments would change the name of the Emergency Response Fund to the Disaster Ready Fund and the ERF Act to the Disaster Ready Fund Act 2019 in that Direction and are consequential to the renaming of the Fund.

9.                   Subclause 4(2) would provide that such an instrument must not take effect before the commencement of Schedule 1 to this Act.

10.               Subclause 4(3) would provide that the requirements in section 42 of the ERF Act to consult with the Future Fund Board apply to the making of an instrument made under subclause 4(1) in the same way those requirements would apply to the giving of a direction under subsection 39(1) of that Act.

11.               Subclause 4(4) would clarify that this clause does not limit the application of section 33(3) of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 to any other power to make an instrument.

12.               Subclause 4(5) would provide that for this section, responsible Ministers has the same meaning as in the ERF Act.



 

Schedule 1 - Amendments commencing on a day to be fixed by Proclamation 

Part 1 - General amendments

Emergency Response Fund Act 2019

13.               As per clause 2, the amendments in this Schedule would commence on a day to be fixed by Proclamation.  

Item 1

14.               Item 1 would update the Title of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund. The Act would become the Disaster Ready Fund Act 2019.

Item 2

15.               Item 2 would update the short title of the Act in section 1 to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund. The short title of the Act would be the Disaster Ready Fund Act 2019 .

16.               The note to item 2 would clarify that any amendments of the Act that refer to the Act’s previous short title (the Emergency Response Fund Act 2019 ) would have effect after the commencement of this item (on a single day to be fixed by Proclamation). This would ensure that any other amendments to the Act are not affected by the amendment to the short title as made by this item.

Items 3 to 13

17.               Items 3 to 13 would update the simplified outline of the Act in section 3 to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund (including the consequential renaming of special accounts and the investment mandate) and to remove outdated references to the Education Investment Fund, which was abolished in 2019 when the Emergency Response Fund was established.

Items 14 and 15

18.               Items 14 and 15 would repeal the definition for the balance of the Emergency Response Fund and replace it with a definition for the balance of the Disaster Ready Fund. This is consequential to the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund.

Item 16

19.               Item 16 would insert a new definition for the Disaster Ready Fund. This new definition would replace the definition of the Emergency Response Fund, which would be repealed by item 23 and substituted with a new definition to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund.

Item 17

20.               Item 17 would insert a new definition for the Disaster Ready Fund investment function, to replace the definition of the Emergency Response Fund investment function, which would be repealed by item 24. This is consequential to the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund.

Item 18

21.               Item 18 would insert a new definition for the Disaster Ready Fund Investment Mandate, to replace the definition of the Emergency Response Fund Investment Mandate, which would be repealed by item 25. This is consequential to the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund.

Item 19

22.               Item 19 would insert a new definition for the Disaster Ready Fund Payments Special Account, to replace the definition of the Home Affairs Emergency Response Fund Special Account, which would be repealed by item 28. This is consequential to the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund.

Item 20

23.               Item 20 would insert a new definition for the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account. This new definition would replace the definition of Emergency Response Fund Special Account, which would be repealed by item 26 and substituted with a new definition to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund.

Items 21 and 22

24.               Items 21 and 22 would repeal the definitions for the Education Investment Fund and the Education Investment Fund Special Account. These definitions are no longer required after the Education Investment Fund was abolished in 2019 when the Emergency Response Fund was established.

Item 23

25.               Item 23 would repeal the definition for the Emergency Response Fund and replace it with a new definition. The new definition would refer to the Emergency Response Fund that was originally established by the ERF Act in 2019.

Item 24

26.               Item 24 would repeal the definition for the Emergency Response Fund investment function. This definition would be replaced by a definition for the Disaster Ready Fund investment function inserted by item 17.

Item 25

27.               Item 25 would repeal the definition for the Emergency Response Fund Investment Mandate. This definition would be replaced by a definition for the Disaster Ready Fund Investment Mandate inserted by item 18.

Item 26

28.               Item 26 would repeal the definition for the Emergency Response Fund Special Account and replace it with a new definition. The new definition would refer to the Emergency Response Fund Special Account that was originally established by the ERF Act in 2019.

29.               The Emergency Response Fund Special Account would be renamed as the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account, as per item 48 of this Schedule.

Item 27

30.               Item 27 would repeal the definition of the Home Affairs Department from the Act. This definition would no longer be necessary following the transfer of the administrative responsibility for expenditure from the Fund from the Department of Home Affairs to the NRRA on 1 July 2021. Expenditure from the Disaster Ready Fund will be administered by the NEMA after the commencement of this Schedule, and not the Department of Home Affairs, therefore this definition is no longer required.

Item 28

31.               Item 28 would repeal the definition for the Home Affairs Emergency Response Fund Special Account and replace it with a new definition. The new definition would refer to the Home Affairs Emergency Response Fund Special Account that was originally established by the ERF Act in 2019.

32.               The Home Affairs Emergency Response Fund Special Account will be renamed as the Disaster Ready Fund Payments Special Account, as per item 73 of this Schedule.

Item 29

33.               Item 29 would repeal the definition of the Home Affairs Minister from the Act. This definition, which is currently used to define the Home Affairs Department in the Act, would no longer be necessary as expenditure from the fund is no longer administered by the Department of Home Affairs.

34.               Expenditure from the Disaster Ready Fund will be administered by the NEMA following commencement of this Schedule.

Item 30

35.               Item 30 would insert a new definition for the investment of the Disaster Ready Fund. This would replace the definition for the investment of the Emergency Response Fund, which would be repealed by item 32 and substituted with a new definition to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund.

Item 31

36.               Item 31 would repeal the definition for the investment of the Education Investment Fund. This definition is no longer required after the Education Investment Fund was abolished in 2019 when the Emergency Response Fund was established.

Item 32

37.               Item 32 would repeal the definition for the investment of Emergency Response Fund and replace it with a new definition. The new definition would provide that the term has the meaning that it had immediately before commencement of section 9A, which deals with the transition of investments from the Emergency Response Fund to the Disaster Ready Fund.

38.               This is a consequential change that reflects the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund.

Item 33

39.               Item 33 would insert a definition for the NEMA, which is the body known as the National Emergency Management Agency.

40.               This item will reflect the transfer of administrative responsibility for Disaster Ready Fund expenditure to the NEMA upon commencement of this Schedule.

Item 34

41.               Item 34 would update the definition of value to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund.

Item 35

42.               Item 35 would update the heading of Part 2 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund.

Items 36 to 44

43.               Items 36 to 44 would update references in section 8 (simplified outline of Part 2) of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund (including the renaming of special accounts) and to remove outdated references to the Education Investment Fund, which was abolished in 2019 when the Emergency Response Fund was established.

Item 45

44.               Item 45 would update the heading of Division 2 of Part 2 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund and the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account.

Item 46

45.               Item 46 would repeal section 9 of the Act and replace it with 2 new sections - section 9 and 9A. The existing section 9, which would be repealed, established the Emergency Response Fund, which consisted of the Emergency Response Fund Special Account and the investments of the Emergency Response Fund.

46.               The new section 9 would provide that the Emergency Response Fund would continue under the new name the Disaster Ready Fund. The Disaster Ready Fund would consist of the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account and the investments of the Disaster Ready Fund.

47.               Section 9A, which would be inserted by this item, would provide for the transition of the investments of the Emergency Response Fund to the Disaster Ready Fund upon commencement. This would be achieved by prescribing that financial assets of the Emergency Response Fund would become financial assets of the Disaster Ready Fund immediately after commencement.

48.               In effect, this would allow for the continuation of investments under the fund’s new name, the Disaster Ready Fund.

Item 47

49.               Item 47 would repeal sections 10 and 11 of the Act. These sections relate to the transfer of the cash balance and investments of the Education Investment Fund to the Emergency Response Fund. These transfers occurred in 2019 when the Education Investment Fund was abolished and the Emergency Response Fund was established, so these sections are no longer required in the Act.

Item 48

50.               Item 48 would repeal section 12 of the Act, which establishes the Emergency Response Fund Special Account, and replace it with a new section 12 for the renamed special account, the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account.

51.               New subsection 12(1) would rename the existing special account (from the Emergency Response Fund Special Account to the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account) and provide for the special account to continue operating under its new name.

52.               New subsection 12(2) would replicate the existing subsection 12(2) for the renamed fund, the Disaster Ready Fund. The subsection would clarify that the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account is a special account for the purposes of the PGPA Act.

53.               The Note immediately following new subsection 12(2) would replicate the Note that currently exists in subsection 12(2) of the ERF Act. The Note assists the reader by clarifying that amounts could be credited to the special account by an Appropriation Act. A special account is an appropriation mechanism that sets aside an amount within the Consolidated Revenue Fund to be expended for specific purposes. Any amounts credited to the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account would be quarantined from the rest of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and could only be debited for the purposes set out in the Act.

Item 49

54.               Item 49 would update the heading of Division 3 of Part 2 to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account.

Item 50

55.               Item 50 would update references in section 13 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account.

Item 51

56.               Item 51 would update the heading of Division 4 of Part 2 to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund.

Items 52 to 54

57.               Items 52 to 54 would update references in section 14 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account and the renaming of the Home Affairs Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Payments Special Account.

Items 55 to 57

58.               Items 55 to 57 would update references in section 15 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account and the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund.

Items 58 to 61

59.               Items 58 to 61 would update references in section 16 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account, the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund and to remove an outdated reference in relation to the Education Investment Fund, which was abolished in 2019.

Items 62 to 64

60.               Items 62 to 64 would update references in section 17 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account and the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund. 

Items 65 and 66

61.               Items 65 and 66 would update references in section 18 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account and the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund.

Items 67 to 70

62.               Items 67 to 70 would update references in section 19 (simplified outline of Part 3) of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account and the renaming of the Home Affairs Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Payments Special Account.

Item 71

63.               Item 71 would update a reference in subsection 26(1) from the Department of Home Affairs to the NEMA, to reflect the transfer of administrative responsibility for fund expenditure to the NEMA following commencement of this Schedule.

Item 72

64.               Item 72 would update a reference in the heading of Division 3 of Part 3 to reflect the renaming of the Home Affairs Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Payments Special Account.

Item 73

65.               Item 73 would repeal section 27 of the Act, which establishes the Home Affairs Emergency Response Fund Special Account, and replace it with new section 27 for the renamed special account, the Disaster Ready Fund Payments Special Account.

66.               New subsection 27(1) would rename the existing special account (from the Home Affairs Emergency Response Fund Special Account to the Disaster Ready Fund Payments Special Account) and provide for the special account to continue operating with its new name.

67.               New subsection 27(2) would replicate the existing subsection 27(2) for the renamed special account, the Disaster Ready Fund Payments Special Account. The subsection would clarify that the Disaster Ready Fund Payments Special Account is a special account for the purposes of the PGPA Act.

68.               The Note immediately following new subsection 27(2) would replicate the Note that currently exists in subsection 27(2) of the ERF Act. The Note assists the reader by clarifying that amounts could be credited to the special account by an Appropriation Act. A special account is an appropriation mechanism that sets aside an amount within the Consolidated Revenue Fund to be expended for specific purposes. Any amounts credited to the Disaster Ready Fund Payments Special Account would be quarantined from the rest of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and could only be debited for the purposes set out in the Act.

69.               New subsection 27(3) would provide that the accountable authority for the Disaster Ready Fund Payments Special Account is the accountable authority of the NEMA.

Items 74 to 79

70.               Items 74 to 79 would update references in section 28 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account and the renaming of the Home Affairs Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Payments Special Account.

71.               Section 28 would facilitate transfers between special accounts for the purposes of making arrangements or grants under subsection 20(1), in relation to recovery from a natural disaster.

72.               The changes to this section by items 74 to 79, in addition to the change by 80 below, would allow transfers to continue to be made for these purposes, up to the annual limit of $150 million, until the section is repealed on 30 June 2023, as per item 7 of Schedule 2.

73.               This would allow the Government to meet existing commitments to provide $150 million from the fund for natural disaster recovery initiatives in 2022-23. From 2023-24 onwards, the Disaster Ready Fund would no longer be available to fund recovery from a natural disaster (see Schedule 2).

74.               Item 77 would update references in paragraph 28(7)(b) of the Act to reflect changes to section 34, which specifies annual limits on debits from the Disaster Ready Fund. This is a consequential change that would ensure that total debits from the Disaster Ready Fund cannot exceed the annual limits specified in the amended section 34.

Item 80

75.               Item 80 would repeal subsection 28(9) of the Act and substitute it with two new subsections to specify the requirements for providing copies of directions given under subsection 28(7) to transfer an amount between special accounts for the purposes of paying arrangements or grants for natural disaster resilience and risk reduction.

76.               New subsection 28(9) would require the Finance Minister to give a copy of a direction given under subsection 28(7) to the Treasurer and the Emergency Management Minister in instances where the Finance Minister personally gives a direction under that subsection. This would not represent any change from the current arrangements for providing copies of directions under subsection 28(9).

77.               New subsection 28(10) would apply when the Finance Minister has delegated the power to give a direction under subsection 28(7), as permitted by subsection 59(1) of the Act. When this delegation has occurred, and the Finance Minister’s delegate gives a direction under subsection 28(7), new subsection 28(10) would require the delegate to give a copy of that direction to the Treasury Department and the NEMA. This would allow correspondence to occur between officials at a departmental level when the power to give a direction under subsection 28(7) has been delegated to an official in the Finance Department.

78.               Delegations under subsection 28(7) are limited to the Secretary and SES employees, or acting SES employees, in the Finance Department. This ensures that any delegate has a suitable level of experience and skills to perform the delegated power.

79.               The purpose of this item is to reduce administrative burden, given that correspondence usually occurs at a departmental level as a result of delegations. Departments would still be required to keep their Ministers appropriately informed under provisions in the PGPA Act.

Items 81 to 86

80.               Items 81 to 86 would update references in section 28A of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account and the renaming of the Home Affairs Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Payments Special Account.

81.               Item 84 would update references in paragraph 28A(7)(b) of the Act to reflect changes to section 34, which specifies annual limits on debits from the Disaster Ready Fund. This is a consequential change that would ensure that total debits from the Disaster Ready Fund cannot exceed the annual limits specified in the amended section 34.

Item 87

82.               Item 87 would repeal subsection 28A(9) of the Act and substitute it with two new subsections to specify the requirements for providing copies of directions given under subsection 28A(7) to transfer an amount between special accounts for the purposes of paying arrangements or grants for natural disaster resilience and risk reduction.

83.               The new subsection 28A(9) would require the Finance Minister to give a copy of a direction given under subsection 28A(7) to the Treasurer and the Emergency Management Minister in instances where the Finance Minister personally gives a direction under that subsection. This would not represent any change from the current arrangements for providing copies of directions under subsection 28A(9).

84.               New subsection 28A(10) would apply when the Finance Minister has delegated the power to give a direction under subsection 28A(7), as permitted by subsection 59(1) of the Act. When this delegation has occurred, and the Finance Minister’s delegate gives a direction under subsection 28A(7), new subsection 28A(10) would require the delegate to give a copy of that direction to the Treasury Department and the NEMA. This would allow correspondence to occur between officials at a departmental level when the power to give a direction under subsection 28A(7) has been delegated to an official in the Finance Department.

85.               Delegations under subsection 28A(7) are limited to the Secretary and SES employees, or acting SES employees, in the Finance Department. This ensures that any delegate has a suitable level of experience and skills to perform the delegated power.

86.               The purpose of this item is to reduce administrative burden, given that correspondence usually occurs at a departmental level as a result of delegations. Departments would still be required to keep their Ministers appropriately informed under provisions in the PGPA Act.

Items 88 and 89

87.               Items 88 and 89 would update references in section 29 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Home Affairs Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Payments Special Account.

Items 90 and 91

88.               Items 90 and 91 would update references in section 30 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Home Affairs Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Payments Special Account.

Items 92 to 95

89.               Items 92 to 95 would update references in section 31 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Home Affairs Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Payments Special Account and the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account.

Item 96

90.               Item 96 would repeal subsection 31(4) of the Act and substitute it with two new subsections to specify the requirements for providing copies of directions given under subsection 31(2) to return excess amounts that are not needed in the payments special account.

91.               A direction under subsection 31(2) occurs when the Emergency Management Minister (or the Minister’s delegate) makes an assessment that the balance of the Emergency Response Fund Payments Special Account (to be renamed the Disaster Ready Fund Payments Special Account) exceeds what is sufficient to cover payments related to arrangements and grants in the upcoming 12-month period.

92.               New subsection 31(4) would require the Emergency Management Minister to give a copy of a direction given under subsection 31(2) to the Treasurer and the Finance Minister in instances where the Emergency Management Minister personally gives a direction under that subsection. This would not represent any change from the current arrangements for providing copies of directions under subsection 31(4).

93.               New subsection 31(5) would apply when the Emergency Management Minister has delegated the power to give a direction under subsection 31(2), as permitted by subsection 61(1) of the Act. When this delegation has occurred, and the Emergency Management Minister’s delegate gives a direction under subsection 31(2), new subsection 31(5) would require the delegate to give a copy of that direction to the Treasury Department and the Finance Department. This would allow correspondence to occur between officials at a departmental level when the power to give a direction under subsection 31(2) has been delegated to an official in the NEMA.

94.               Delegations under subsection 31(2) would be limited to the accountable authority of the NEMA and SES employees, or acting SES employees, in the NEMA. This ensures that any delegate has a suitable level of experience and skills to perform the delegated power.

95.               The purpose of this item is to reduce administrative burden, given that correspondence usually occurs at a departmental level as a result of delegations. Departments would still be required to keep their Ministers appropriately informed under provisions in the PGPA Act.

Item 97

96.               Item 97 would repeal subsection 32(1) of the Act and substitute it for two new subsections to provide for the channelling of grants of financial assistance to a state or territory, through the COAG Reform Fund, for the purposes of recovery from a natural disaster.

97.               Subsection 32(1) of the Act currently provides for the Emergency Management Minister to make directions to debit the Emergency Response Fund Special Account, which is administered by the Finance Department, for the purposes of channelling grants of financial assistance to a state or territory through the COAG Reform Fund. The process of a Minister directing a department outside of that Minister’s portfolio is unusual and inconsistent with comparable provisions in the legislation governing other Australian Government investment funds (for example, see section 15A of the MRFF Act).

98.               The amendments in this item would align the process for channelling grants through the COAG Reform Fund with other comparable provisions. New subsection 32(1A) would provide that the Emergency Management Minister may request that the Finance Minister transfer amounts from the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account to the COAG Reform Fund for the purposes of channelling grants of financial assistance to a state or territory.

99.               Under new subsection 32(1), the Finance Minister would be required to make a direction that the specified amount is to be debited from the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account and credited to the COAG Reform Fund on a specified day.

100.           This would ensure that the Finance Minister is responsible for debiting the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account, which is administered by the Finance Department.

Item 98

101.           Item 98 would make a consequential amendment to subsection 32(3) of the Act to reflect the amended role of the Emergency Management Minister in facilitating transfers from the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account to the COAG Reform Fund (see item 97).

102.           The amendment would remove a reference to the Emergency Management Minister giving a direction and replace it with a reference to the Emergency Management Minister making a request. The effect of the subsection would remain that the annual limits on debits cannot be exceeded.

Item 99

103.           Item 99 would update a reference in subsection 32(3) of the Act to reflect changes being made to section 34, which specifies an annual limit of $150 million on debits from the fund for the purposes of natural disaster recovery and an annual limit of $50 million on debits from the fund for the purposes of natural disaster resilience and risk reduction.

104.           This would allow the Government to meet existing commitments to provide $150 million from the fund for natural disaster recovery in 2022-23. From 2023-24 onwards, the Disaster Ready Fund would no longer be available to fund recovery from a natural disaster (see Schedule 2).

Item 100

105.           Item 100 would repeal subsection 32(6) of the Act and substitute it with two new subsections to specify the requirements for providing copies of directions given under subsection 32(1) to transfer an amount from the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account to the COAG Reform Fund for the purposes of paying grants to a state or territory to recover from a natural disaster.

106.           The new subsection 32(6) would require the Finance Minister to give a copy of a direction given under subsection 32(1) to the Treasurer and the Emergency Management Minister in instances where the Finance Minister personally gives a direction under that subsection. This would not represent any change from the current arrangements for providing copies of directions under subsection 32(6).

107.           New subsection 32(7) would apply when the Finance Minister has delegated the power to give a direction under subsection 32(1), as permitted by subsection 59(1) of the Act (once amended by this Bill). When this delegation has occurred, and the Finance Minister’s delegate gives a direction under subsection 32(1), new subsection 32(7) would require the delegate to give a copy of that direction to the Treasury Department and the NEMA. This would allow correspondence to occur between officials at a departmental level when the power to give a direction under subsection 32(1) has been delegated to an official in the Finance Department.

108.           Delegations under subsection 32(1) would be limited to the Secretary and SES employees, or acting SES employees, in the Finance Department. This ensures that any delegate has a suitable level of experience and skills to perform the delegated power.

109.           The purpose of this item is to reduce administrative burden, given that correspondence usually occurs at a departmental level as a result of delegations. Departments would still be required to keep their Ministers appropriately informed under provisions in the PGPA Act.

Item 101

110.           Item 101 would repeal subsection 32A(1) of the Act and substitute it for two new subsections to provide for the channelling of grants of financial assistance to a state or territory, through the COAG Reform Fund, for natural disaster resilience and risk reduction.

111.           Subsection 32A(1) of the Act currently provides for the Emergency Management Minister to make directions to debit the Emergency Response Fund Special Account, which is administered by the Finance Department, for the purposes of channelling grants of financial assistance to a state or territory through the COAG Reform Fund. The process of a Minister directing a department outside of that Minister’s portfolio is unusual, and is inconsistent with comparable provisions in the legislation governing other Australian Government investment funds (for example, see section 15A of the MRFF Act).

112.           The amendments in this item would align the process for channelling grants through the COAG Reform Fund with other comparable provisions. New subsection 32A(1A) would provide that the Emergency Management Minister may request that the Finance Minister transfer amounts from the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account for the purposes of channelling grants of financial assistance to a state or territory through the COAG Reform Fund. Under the new subsection 32A(1), the Finance Minister would be required to make a direction that the specified amount is to be debited from the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account and credited to the COAG Reform Fund on a specified day.

113.           This would ensure that the Finance Minister is responsible for debiting the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account, which is administered by the Finance Department.

Item 102

114.           Item 102 would make a consequential amendment to subsection 32A(3) to reflect the amended role of the Emergency Management Minister in facilitating transfers from the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account to the COAG Reform Fund (see item 101).

115.           The amendment would remove a reference to the Emergency Management Minister giving a direction and replace it with a reference to the Emergency Management Minister making a request. The effect of the subsection would remain that the annual limits on debits cannot be exceeded.

Item 103

116.           Item 103 would update references in subsection 32A(3) of the Act to reflect changes to section 34, which specifies annual limits on debits from the Disaster Ready Fund. This is a consequential change that would ensure that total debits from the Disaster Ready Fund cannot exceed the limits specified in the amended section 34.

Item 104

117.           Item 104 would repeal subsection 32A(6) of the Act and substitute it with two new subsections to specify the requirements for providing copies of directions given under subsection 32A(1) to transfer an amount from the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account to the COAG Reform Fund for the purposes of paying grants to a state or territory for natural disaster resilience and risk reduction.

118.           The new subsection 32A(6) would require the Finance Minister to give a copy of a direction given under subsection 32A(1) to the Treasurer and the Emergency Management Minister in instances where the Finance Minister personally gives a direction under that subsection. This would not represent any change from the current arrangements for providing copies of directions under subsection 32A(6).

119.           New subsection 32A(7) would apply when the Finance Minister has delegated the power to give a direction under subsection 32A(1), as permitted by subsection 59(1) of the Act (once amended by this Bill). When this delegation has occurred, and the Finance Minister’s delegate gives a direction under subsection 32A(1), new subsection 32A(7) would require the delegate to give a copy of that direction to the Treasury Department and the NEMA. This would allow correspondence to occur between officials at a departmental level when the power to give a direction under subsection 32A(1) has been delegated to an official in the Finance Department.

120.           Delegations under subsection 32A(1) would be limited to the Secretary and SES employees, or acting SES employees, in the Finance Department. This ensures that any delegate has a suitable level of experience and skills to perform the delegated power.

121.           The purpose of this item is to reduce administrative burden, given that correspondence usually occurs at a departmental level as a result of delegations. Departments would still be required to keep their Ministers appropriately informed under provisions in the PGPA Act.

Item 105

122.           Item 105 would repeal Division 5 of Part 3 of the Act, which specifies annual limits on debits from the Fund, and replace it with a new Division 5.

123.           The existing Division 5 allows the Fund to be debited for two separate purposes - up to $150 million per financial year for natural disaster recovery and post-disaster resilience and up to $50 million per financial year for disaster resilience and risk reduction.

124.           New Division 5 would reflect the Government’s decision to dedicate the Disaster Ready Fund solely for natural disaster resilience and risk reduction initiatives from 2023-24 onwards. The changes by this item would provide for an annual limit of $200 million for debits relating to natural disaster resilience and risk reduction initiatives. The Disaster Ready Fund would not be available to fund natural disaster recovery after 2022-23.

125.           New subsection 34(1) would limit the total amount debited from the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account during a financial year, for the purposes of transfers under sections 28A and 32A. Transfers under those sections relate to arrangements and grants for the purposes of natural disaster resilience and risk reduction initiatives.

126.           The total annual limit on debits would be equal to $200 million, or if another amount is specified under subsection 34(2) or 34(3), that other amount. The limit would apply from the financial year beginning on 1 July 2023. This would allow existing funding commitments for the 2022-2023 financial year to be met before this annual limit applies.

127.           New subsection 34(2) would allow the responsible Ministers to determine, by way of legislative instrument, a maximum amount that can be debited from the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account in a specified financial year and each subsequent financial year. This would allow the responsible Ministers to adjust the maximum amount that can be debited for all future financial years (or until otherwise specified).

128.           New subsection 34(3) would allow the responsible Ministers to determine the maximum amount (or amounts) that could be debited from the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account in one or more specified financial years. This would allow the responsible Ministers to adjust the maximum amount that can be debited in the specified financial year (or financial years) - for example, by determining a schedule of maximum amounts applicable to specified financial years in the future.

129.           For certainty, any legislative instrument determined by the responsible Ministers under new subsections 34(2) or 34(3) would be subject to disallowance by the Parliament.

130.           New subsection 34(4) would ensure that any determination by the responsible Ministers under new subsection 34(3) would prevail over any determination made under new subsection 34(2). This would ensure that the responsible Ministers can specify one or more amounts in specified financial years (under new subsection 34(3)), even if a determination has already been made for all future financial years (under new subsection 34(2)).

131.           New subsection 34(5) would require the responsible Ministers, when making a determination under new subsections 34(2) and (3), to have regard to the advice given by the Future Fund Board under new section 34A, in relation to the impact of making the determination on the ability of the Future Fund Board to comply with this Act and the Disaster Ready Fund Investment Mandate, and to any other matters the responsible Ministers consider relevant, if any.

132.           New subsections 34(6) and (7) would apply in the financial year beginning 1 July 2022. Subsection 34(6) would provide that the total amount debited from the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account under sections 28 and 32, in relation to recovery from a natural disaster, cannot exceed $150 million during the financial year. Subsection 34(7) would provide that the total amount debited from the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account under sections 28A and 32A, in relation to natural disaster resilience, preparedness, and risk reduction, cannot exceed $50 million during the financial year, making a total annual limit of $200 million. This reflects the arrangements provided in the ERF Act immediately prior to the commencement of this Schedule.

133.           New subsection 34(6) would allow the Government to meet existing commitments from the fund in 2022-23. On 1 July 2023, subsections 34(6) and (7) would be repealed by item 12 of Schedule 2. This would reflect the Government’s decision to dedicate the Disaster Ready Fund to natural disaster resilience and risk reduction, meaning that the Disaster Ready Fund will not be available to fund natural disaster recovery initiatives from 2023-24 onwards.

134.           New subsection 34(8) would require the responsible Ministers to conduct a review of new paragraphs 34(1)(c) and (d) at least every 5 years. In conducting a review under this new subsection, the responsible Ministers could consider whether the maximum debit amount (or amounts) should be adjusted in response to investment market or policy considerations. In considering an adjustment, it is expected that the responsible Ministers would consult with the Emergency Management Minister.

135.           New section 34A would require the responsible Ministers, before making a determination under subsection 34(2) or (3) to set an annual limit other than $200 million, to obtain advice from the Future Fund Board regarding the impact of making the determination on the ability of the Future Fund Board to comply with the Disaster Ready Fund Act 2019 and the Disaster Ready Fund Investment Mandate. New subsection 34(5) would require the responsible Ministers to have regard to this advice when making such a determination.

136.            New subsection 34A(1) would provide the responsible Ministers must provide a written notice that sets out a draft of a determination under subsection 34(2) or (3) to the Future Fund Board, and requires the Future Fund Board to give advice to the Ministers, within a specified period, regarding the impact of making the determination on the ability of the Future Fund Board to comply with the Disaster Ready Fund Act 2019 and the Disaster Ready Fund Investment Mandate. The Ministers must also require the Future Fund Board, in giving advice, to have regard to the Disaster Ready Fund Investment Mandate, and any other specified matters.

137.           Subsection 34A(2) would require the Future Fund Board to comply with such a request for advice.

138.           Subsection 34A(3) would require that the period specified by the responsible Ministers for the Future Fund Board to provide advice must not be shorter than 60 days from the day of the request for advice. This is to allow the Future Fund Board sufficient time to appropriately consider and advise on the impact of the proposed adjusted annual limit, specified in the draft determination, on the ability of the Future Fund Board to comply with the Disaster Ready Fund Act 2019 and the Disaster Ready Fund Investment Mandate.

139.           Subsection 34A(4) would provide that the responsible Ministers must not require the Future Fund Board to have regard to matters that are inconsistent with the Act or the Disaster Ready Fund Investment Mandate in giving its advice.

140.           Subsection 34A(5) would clarify that the obligation on the responsible Ministers to require the Future Fund Board, in giving its advice, to have regard to the Disaster Ready Fund Investment Mandate and any other specified matters does not, by implication, limit the matters to which the Future Fund Board may have regard in giving its advice.

Item 106

141.           Item 106 would update the heading of Part 4 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund.

Items 107 to 109

142.           Items 107 to 109 would update references in section 35 (simplified outline of Part 4) of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund and the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Investment Mandate as the Disaster Ready Fund Investment Mandate.

Items 110 to 112

143.           Item 110 to 112 would update references in section 36 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund.

Items 113 to 115

144.           Items 113 to 115 would update references in section 37 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund and the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account.

Items 116 to 123

145.           Items 116 to 123 would update references in section 38 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund and the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account.

Items 124 to 128

146.           Items 124 to 128 would update references in section 39 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund, the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Investment Mandate as the Disaster Ready Fund Investment Mandate, and the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund investment function as the Disaster Ready Fund investment function.

Items 129 and 130

147.           Items 129 and 130 would update references in section 40 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund and the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund investment function as the Disaster Ready Fund investment function.

Items 131 and 132

148.           Items 131 and 132 would update references section 41 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Investment Mandate as the Disaster Ready Fund Investment Mandate and the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account.

Item 133

149.           Item 133 would update the heading of section 42 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Investment Mandate as the Disaster Ready Fund Investment Mandate. 

Items 134 and 135

150.           Items 134 and 135 would update references in section 43 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Investment Mandate as the Disaster Ready Fund Investment Mandate.

Item 136

151.           Item 136 would update a reference in subsection 44(1) of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund investment functions as the Disaster Ready Fund investment functions.  

Item 137

152.           Item 137 would update references in section 45 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund.

Items 138 to 140

153.           Items 138 to 140 would update references section 46 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund and the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Investment Mandate as the Disaster Ready Fund Investment Mandate. 

Item 141

154.           Item 141 would update references in section 47 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund.

Item 142

155.           Item 142 would update a reference in section 48 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund.

Items 143 to 145

156.           Items 143 to 145 would update references in section 49 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund and the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account.

Item 146

157.           Item 146 would update references in section 50 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund.

Items 147 and 148

158.           Items 147 and 148 would update references in section 51 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account and the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund.

Item 149

159.           Item 149 would update references in section 52 of the Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund.

Item 150

160.           Item 150 would update the Finance Minister’s delegation powers in subsection 59(1) of the Act to reflect the Finance Minister’s new roles with respect to sections 32 and 32A (as amended by this Bill).

161.           Under the amended sections 32 and 32A, the Finance Minister would be required to transfer amounts from the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account to the COAG Reform Fund for the purpose of paying grants to a state or territory. This item would allow the Finance Minister to delegate this power to the Secretary or an SES employee (or acting SES employee) in the Finance Department. This would be consistent with the delegation arrangements for other similar functions under the Act (for example, sections 28 and 28A).

Item 151

162.           Item 151 would update the delegation powers of the Emergency Management Minister to allow the delegation of powers under Division 2 of Part 3 (relating to the Disaster Ready Fund Payments Special Account) to the accountable authority of the NEMA, instead of the Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs.

163.           This item is consequential to the transfer of administrative responsibility for fund expenditure to the NEMA following commencement of this Schedule.

Item 152

164.           Item 152 would update the delegation powers of the Emergency Management Minister to allow the delegation of powers under Division 2 of Part 3 (relating to the Disaster Ready Fund Payments Special Account) to an SES employee (or acting SES employee) in the NEMA, instead of an SES employee (or acting SES employee) in the Department of Home Affairs.

165.           This item is consequential to the transfer of administrative responsibility for fund expenditure to the NEMA following commencement of this Schedule.

Item 153

166.           Item 153 would update the delegation powers of the Emergency Management Minister to allow the delegation of functions or powers under sections 28, 28A, 31, 32 or 32A (in relation to transfers between special accounts and assessing the balance of the Disaster Ready Fund Payments Special Account) to the accountable authority of the NEMA, instead of the Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs.

167.           This item is consequential to the transfer of administrative responsibility for fund expenditure to the NEMA following commencement of this Schedule.

Item 154

168.           Item 154 would update the delegation powers of the Emergency Management Minister to allow the delegation of functions or powers under section 28, 28A, 31, 32 or 32A (in relation to transfers between special accounts and assessing the balance of the Disaster Ready Fund Payments Special Account) to an SES employee (or acting SES employee) in the NEMA, instead of an SES employee (or acting SES employee) in the Department of Home Affairs.

169.           This item is consequential to the transfer of administrative responsibility for fund expenditure to the NEMA following commencement of this Schedule.

Item 155

170.           Item 155 would repeal section 62 of the Act, which is a transitional provision relating to the receipt of money that relates to the Education Investment Fund. The Education Investment Fund was abolished in 2019 when the Emergency Response Fund was established, therefore this section is no longer required.

 



 

Part 2 - Consequential amendments

171.           The consequential amendments made by Part 2 of Schedule 1 would support a smooth transition from the Emergency Response Fund to the Disaster Ready Fund upon commencement of the changes in Schedule 1.

172.           These amendments are necessary to reflect the renaming of the fund and the consequential remaining of the Act, special accounts and other terms used in the Act.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Future Fund Act 2018

Items 156 to 158

173.           Items 156 to 158 would update references in section 16 of the ATSILSFF Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Act 2019 as the Disaster Ready Fund Act 2019 .

174.           These amendments would allow for the proper apportionment of common expenses between the investment funds managed by the Future Fund Board (for example, banking and insurance costs).

COAG Reform Fund Act 2008

Items 159 to 163

175.           Items 159 to 163 would update references in sections 5 and 7 of the COAG Reform Fund Act 2008 to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund and the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Act 2019 as the Disaster Ready Fund Act 2019 .

176.           These items are necessary to ensure that payments can continue to be channelled to the states and territories through the COAG Reform Fund following the changes in this Bill to rename the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund.

DisabilityCare Australia Fund Act 2013

Items 164 to 166

177.           Items 164 to 166 would update references in section 16 of the DCAF Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Act 2019 as the Disaster Ready Fund Act 2019 .

178.           These amendments would allow for the proper apportionment of common expenses between the investment funds managed by the Future Fund Board (for example, banking and insurance costs).

Future Drought Fund Act 2019

Items 167 to 169

179.           Items 167 to 169 would update references in section 17 of the FDF Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Act 2019 as the Disaster Ready Fund Act 2019 .

180.           These amendments would allow for the proper apportionment of common expenses between the investment funds managed by the Future Fund Board (for example, banking and insurance costs).

Future Fund Act 2006

Items 170 to 205

181.           Items 170 to 205 would update references in the Future Fund Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund as the Disaster Ready Fund, the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Special Account as the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account and the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Act 2019 as the Disaster Ready Fund Act 2019 .

182.           The consequential amendments to the Future Fund Act ensure that the Future Fund Board’s legislated duties extend to managing the Disaster Ready Fund, once it is renamed from the Emergency Response Fund.

183.           The amendments would also allow for the proper apportionment of common expenses between the investment funds managed by the Future Fund Board (for example, banking and insurance costs).

Medical Research Future Fund Act 2015

Items 206 to 208

184.           Items 206 to 208 would update references in section 19 of the MRFF Act to reflect the renaming of the Emergency Response Fund Act 2019 as the Disaster Ready Fund Act 2019 .

185.           These amendments would allow for the proper apportionment of common expenses between the investment funds managed by the Future Fund Board (for example, banking and insurance costs).

 

 



 

Part 3-Transitional and application provisions

Item 209

186.           Item 209 would provide that the amendments made by items 80, 87, 96, 100 and 104 would apply in relation to a direction given after commencement of item 209.

187.           This would clarify that the new arrangements for providing copies of directions (as provided for by items 80, 87, 96, 100 and 104) would apply to any direction given after commencement of the item by the Finance Minister or the Finance Minister’s delegate under subsection 28A(7) or 32A(1), or the Emergency Management Minister or the Emergency Management Minister’s delegate under subsection 31(2), of the Act.

188.           These directions relate to debiting the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account for the purposes of paying grants and debiting the Disaster Ready Fund Payments Special Account to return excess amounts to the Disaster Ready Fund Special Account.

Item 210

189.           Item 210 would provide a transitional provision for the annual report requirements in subsection 81(1) of the Future Fund Act.

190.           Subsection 81(1) of the Future Fund Act currently requires the Chair of the Future Fund Board to include certain information in each annual report provided to the nominated Minister (the Minister for Finance). The information relates to the performance of the Emergency Response Fund and amounts transferred from the Emergency Response Fund Special Account for the purposes of covering costs related to the administration and investment of the Emergency Response Fund (for example, to pay investment management expenses and cover the remuneration of Future Fund Board members and Future Fund Management Agency staff).

191.           This transitional provision will require the Chair of the Future Fund Board to provide the required information in relation to the Emergency Response Fund up until the point that it becomes the Disaster Ready Fund (upon commencement of Schedule 1, on a day to be fixed by Proclamation). After commencement, the Chair would be required to provide the required information in relation to the Disaster Ready Fund.

192.           This would ensure that the annual report for the year that the Fund is renamed will include complete information for both the Emergency Response Fund (up until commencement) and the Disaster Ready Fund (after commencement).

193.           For all subsequent financial years, the annual report will contain the required information for the Disaster Ready Fund.



 

 

Schedule 2 - Amendments commencing on 1 July 2023 

Part 1 - Amendments

Emergency Response Fund Act 2019

194.           The amendments to the Emergency Response Fund Act 2019 made by Part 1 of Schedule 2 would remove references in the Act that allow arrangements and grants to be made for the purposes of natural disaster recovery.

195.           The Government has decided to establish the Disaster Ready Fund as a dedicated source of funding for natural disaster resilience and risk reduction. However, the Government has existing commitments from the Fund in 2022-23 in relation to natural disaster recovery. The provisions in Schedule 1 will allow these commitments to be met in 2022-23.

196.           From 1 July 2023, the Act will no longer provide for grants or arrangements to be made for natural disaster recovery. The amendments in Part 1 of Schedule 2, which will take effect from 1 July 2023, would remove the provisions that are no longer necessary. This would reflect the Government’s decision to dedicate the Disaster Ready Fund to natural disaster resilience and risk reduction initiatives.

197.           It is expected that Schedule 2, which would commence on 1 July 2023, would commence after Schedule 1, which would commence on a day to be fixed by Proclamation. This would ensure that the provisions operate as intended, and allow the Government to meet existing commitments in 2022-23 and dedicate the Disaster Ready Fund to natural disaster resilience and risk reduction initiatives thereafter.

Item 1

198.           Item 1 would omit a reference in paragraph 14(a) to section 28 of the Act, which would be redundant following the repeal of that section by item 7 of this Schedule.

Item 2

199.           Item 2 would omit a reference in paragraph 14(b) to section 32 of the Act, which would be redundant following the repeal of that section by item 9 of this Schedule.

Item 3

200.           Item 3 would repeal subsection 20(1) of the Act, which allows the Emergency Management Minister to make arrangements or grants that are directed towards recovery from a natural disaster, up to $150 million per year.  

201.           The Government has decided to establish the Disaster Ready Fund to improve Australia’s disaster readiness by dedicating up to $200 million per year on natural disaster resilience and risk reduction. However, the Government has existing commitments in 2022-23 in relation to natural disaster recovery.

202.           Subsection 20(1) would continue to operate until commencement of this item on 1 July 2023, to ensure that the Government can meet existing spending commitments in relation to natural disaster recovery. From 1 July 2023, the Disaster Ready Fund would be dedicated to natural disaster resilience and risk reduction, with no funding available for natural disaster recovery.

203.           The Government will retain existing funding sources for natural disaster recovery efforts, most notably under the Australian Government-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements 2018 (DRFAs). The DRFAs provide for disaster recovery funding to be delivered through state and territory agencies to disaster-affected communities.

204.           Dedicating the Disaster Ready Fund to natural disaster resilience and risk reduction will allow a clearer distinction between the different funding sources and enhance the focus on building resilience to and reducing the cost of future natural disasters.

Items 4 and 5

205.           Items 4 and 5 would remove references in section 20 to subsection 20(1) of the Act, as that subsection would be repealed by item 3 above.

Item 6

206.           Item 6 would repeal subsections 20(6) and (7) of the Act.

207.           Subsection 20(6) defines post-disaster resilience for the purposes of making arrangements or grants under subsection 20(1) following the occurrence of a natural disaster. Subsection 20(1) would be repealed by item 3, therefore subsection 20(6) is no longer required.

208.           Subsection 20(7) is a transitional provision to provide that section 20 arrangements or grants for natural disaster recovery can only be made in relation to natural disasters that occur after commencement of the ERF Act. From 2023-24 onwards, the Disaster Ready Fund would no longer be used to fund natural disaster recovery efforts following a natural disaster, therefore subsection 20(7) is no longer required.

Item 7

209.           Item 7 would repeal section 28 of the Act. That section facilitates transfers between special accounts for the purposes of making arrangements or grants under subsection 20(1), in relation to recovery from a natural disaster. Subsection 20(1) would be repealed by item 3, therefore section 28 would no longer be needed.

Item 8

210.           Item 8 would repeal the reference in paragraph 28A(7)(b) to subsection 34(6) of the Act, which was inserted by item 105 of Schedule 1 of this Act, as that subsection would be repealed by item 12 below.

Item 9

211.           Item 9 would repeal section 32 of the Act. That section facilitates the channelling of grants through the COAG Reform Fund for the purposes of making grants to a state or territory under subsection 20(1), in relation to recovery from a natural disaster. Subsection 20(1) is being repealed by item 3, therefore section 32 would no longer be needed.

Item 10

212.           Item 10 would repeal the reference in subsection 32A(3) to subsection 34(6) of the Act, which was inserted by item 105 of Schedule 1 of this Act, as subsection 34(6) would be repealed by item 12 below.

Item 11

213.           Item 11 would remove a reference to paragraph 32(1)(b) in section 33 of the Act, following the repeal of section 32 by item 9 above. Section 33 of the Act requires the Treasurer to debit the COAG Reform Fund for the purposes of making grants of financial assistance to a state or territory whenever an amount is credited to the COAG Reform Fund for that purpose.

214.           The repeal of section 32 by item 9 would mean that amounts would no longer be credited to the COAG Reform Fund for the purpose of channelling grants through the COAG Reform Fund to fund recovery from a natural disaster and as such, the reference to paragraph 32(1)(b) in section 33 would no longer be required.

Item 12

215.           Item 12 would repeal subsections 34(6) and (7) of the Act. Those subsections would be inserted by item 105 of Schedule 1, as temporary provisions to allow the Government to meet existing commitments in relation to natural disaster recovery from the fund in 2022-23.

216.           From 1 July 2023, the Disaster Ready Fund would be fully dedicated to natural disaster resilience and risk reduction initiatives, meaning that the temporary provisions in subsection 34(6), which relates to natural disaster recovery, and subsection 34(7), which limits annual funding for natural disaster resilience and risk reduction initiatives to $50 million, would no longer be needed.

Item 13

217.           Item 13 would remove a reference in subsection 36(1) to section 28 of the Act, which would be redundant following the repeal of that section by item 7 of this Schedule.

Item 14

218.           Item 14 would remove a reference in subsection 36(1) to section 32 of the Act, which would be redundant following the repeal of that section by item 9 of this Schedule.

Item 15

219.           Item 15 would remove a reference in subsection 59(1) to section 28 of the Act, which would be redundant following the repeal of that section by item 7 of this Schedule.

Item 16

220.           Item 16 would remove a reference in subsection 59(1) to section 32 of the Act, which would be redundant following the repeal of that section by item 9 of this Schedule.

Item 17

221.           Item 17 would remove a reference in subsection 61(3) to section 28 of the Act, which would be redundant following the repeal of that section by item 7 of this Schedule.

Item 18

222.           Item 18 would remove a reference in subsection 61(3) to section 32 of the Act, which would be redundant following the repeal of that section by item 9 of this Schedule.

Part 2 —Transitional provisions

 

Item 19

223.           Item 19 would provide a transitional provision to ensure that arrangements and grants made under subsection 20(1) of the Act before commencement of the Bill remain valid following commencement of the changes in the Bill.

224.           Arrangements and grants may currently be made under subsection 20(1) of the Act in relation to recovery from a natural disaster (up to $50 million per financial year). The changes in this Bill will mean that such arrangements and grants can no longer be made under the Act.

225.           This provision would ensure that recipients of funding for the purposes of recovery from a natural disaster, in instances where those arrangements or grants are made before commencement of the Bill, remain entitled to the financial assistance provided under the arrangements or grants.

226.           This is achieved by providing that, for all arrangements and grants made before commencement, the relevant sections of the Act continue to apply such that the arrangements and grants that are made can be executed through to completion.




[2] UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment No 12 (1999), paragraphs 8 and 13