Budget 2020: public service commitments and funding requests

By Matthew Elmas

October 6, 2020

budget 2020
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will hand down the 2020-21 federal budget tonight.

We already know a bit about what Commonwealth departments and agencies will be tasked with, though, and as always there’s no shortage of calls for specified organisations to receive more funds, or for additional bodies to be created.

We’ve collated some of the prominent commitments and funding asks below.

Government commitments

The government has outlined myriad budget measures already, but it is not clear in all cases which departments or agencies will be funded to spearhead initiatives.

We’ve focused specifically on government-led initiatives here, rather than cases where departments and agencies are being asked to oversee the outflow of funds to business or other stakeholders.

We’ve included those cases where government commitments are clear, although precise funding amounts are not available in all circumstances.

PM&C: Regulator performance

The Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet (PM&C) will be asked to fund a new regulator performance role to oversee whole-of-government efforts to streamline red tape.

Unveiled in a speech by Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ben Morton last week, the new capability will work across the APS to foster a culture of “regulator excellence”.

Home Affairs and related agencies: cyber security

In August, the government pledged $1.67 billion to lift Australia’s cyber security capabilities.

This is likely to be a whole-of-government initiative, but the Department of Home Affairs looks set to receive a large portion of the money, including $469.7 million for Australian Signals Directorate staff.

DISER: digital and business programs

The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER) will receive $11.4 million to establish a regulatory technology commercialisation initiative through the Business Research and Innovation Initiative (BRII).

The department also looks set to receive part of a $6.9 million pledge to organise industry-led pilots for the use of blockchain in regulatory compliance, specifically under the critical minerals national ethical certification scheme.

A total $19.2 million has been promised for expansions of small business advisory programs and a “go digital” marketing campaign, which will be created under an expansion of the Australian Small Business Advisory Services program.

DTA: Digital Identity Program

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) will receive funds to expand the opt-in Digital Identity Program further across the APS.

This program is receiving a total $256.6 million in funding under the government’s digital business plan, but it is not yet clear how this money will be divvied up between departments and agencies.

AusTrade: boosting fintechs

AusTrade will receive additional funding to facilitate Australian fintechs trying to engage in overseas markets.

It’s not yet clear how much this will cost, but the government has committed $9.6 million to boosting fintech trade and investment through its digital business plan

ACMA: 5G acceleration

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will receive $7.1 million to support accelerated deployment of 5G infrastructure.

Treasury: additional CDR functions

Work relating to the roll-out of the Consumer Data Right (CDR) will be moved into Treasury, including rule making functions and sectoral assessments from the ACCC and hosting of the Data Standards body from the CSIRO.

Under the government’s digital business plan, $28.5 million has been pledged to expand the CDR.

AER: design real time data on energy retail offers.

The Australian Energy Regulator will receive a thus far unspecified sum to design arrangements to make data available on energy retail offers in real time.

This funding will be sourced from the government’s $800 million JobMaker digital business plan.

ABR: modernising business registers

The Australian Business Register (ABR) will receive $419.9 million to implement the Modernising Business Registers program.

Royal Commissions: more regulators?

Recent royal commissions have also called on governments to pledge money to expanding regulatory endeavours.

These are recommendations, rather than government commitments.

Aged care

The Aged Care Royal Commission last week called on the federal government to establish a national aged care advisory body.

National Natural Disaster Arrangements

The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements handed down its interim report last month, calling on the federal government to establish a recovery and resilience agency.

Agency funding asks

ANAO: government accountability at risk

In its annual report late last month, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) warned scrutiny of government programs will continue to recede unless the agency gets additional resources.

“Without supplementary appropriations, the number of performance audits tabled in the parliament will continue to reduce,” Auditor-General Grant Hehir warned.

ABS: more funding for data

In its annual report in the second half of last year, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) called for more funding, arguing the level of cuts in recent years have reduced the services it can provide the community.

“Our economic, labour market and population statistics have been prioritised, and are consuming an increasing share of our budget funding. These will now be the statistics at risk if there are further cuts to ABS funding over future years,” Australian Statistician David Kalisch said in the report.

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