Australian Federal Budget 2019-2020: Royal Commission & Funding Government Agencies

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This analysis was written by Paula Mucha, Rose Tsui and Jack Anderson.

In response to public concerns relating to the effectiveness of administration agencies, the Government is proposing significant investment to implement the recommendations from the Banking Royal Commission, as well as to fund a range of government agencies and the Disability Royal Commission.

Federal Court

The Government will provide $43.9 million over five years from 2018 19 (including $11.8 million in capital funding over two years from 2018 19) to fund additional judges for the Federal Court of Australia (FCA). $35.5 million of this funding is intended to provide the FCA with additional resourcing for the expansion of its jurisdiction to include corporate crime. The funding will also allow the FCA to maintain additional expertise in its employment and industrial relations jurisdiction.

Royal Commission - People with Disability

Subject to the finalisation of the Terms of Reference and consideration by the Governor General, the Government will provide $527.9 million over five years from 2018 19 (including $16.2 million in capital funding over two years from 2018 19) to support the work of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (the Disability Royal Commission).

This funding includes $379.1 million over five years for the Attorney General's Department to run the Disability Royal Commission, to provide legal assistance to witnesses and to represent the Commonwealth in the Disability Royal Commission proceedings.

The Government will also provide $148.8 million over three years to the Department of Social Services, the National Disability Insurance Agency and the National Disability Insurance Scheme Quality and Safeguards Commission to provide counselling services and other support to people with disability in connection with their participation in the Disability Royal Commission.

The Disability Royal Commission will inquire into the following matters:

  • what governments, institutions and the community should do to prevent, and better protect, people with disability from experiencing violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation;
  • what governments, institutions and the community should do to encourage reporting and effective responses to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability; and
  • what should be done to promote a more inclusive society, which supports the independence of people with disability and their right to live free from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

National Commonwealth Legal Assistance

The Government will provide $1.2 billion over three years from 2020-21 in Commonwealth funding for legal assistance services, including services delivered by Legal Aid Commissions, Community Legal Centres and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services.

The funding will be delivered through a new, single mechanism for Commonwealth legal assistance funding, integrating new and existing Commonwealth funding. Subject to negotiations with the states and territories, the national mechanism will be a unified administrative mechanism that provides guaranteed and quarantined funding to Legal Aid Commissions, Community Legal Centres and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, via the states and territories. The national mechanism will commence on 1 July 2020 and aims to achieve a more collaborative, innovative and effective legal assistance sector.

Banking Royal Commission

The Government will provide $606.7 million over five years from 2018 19 to facilitate the Government's response to the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (the Banking Royal Commission). The package comprises a suite of measures that fulfil the Government's commitment to take action on all 76 of the recommendations of the Banking Royal Commissioner's Final Report, including:

  • designing and implementing an industry funded compensation scheme of last resort for consumers and small business ($2.6 million over two years from 2019 20);
  • providing the Australian Financial Complaints Authority with additional funding to help establish a historical redress scheme to consider eligible financial complaints dating back to 1 January 2008 ($2.8 million in 2018 19);
  • paying compensation owed to consumers and small businesses from legacy unpaid external dispute resolution determinations ($30.7 million in 2019 20);
  • resourcing the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to implement its new enforcement strategy, and expand its capabilities and roles in accordance with the recommendations of the Banking Royal Commission ($404.8 million over four years from 2019 20);
  • resourcing the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) to strengthen its supervisory and enforcement activities, which will support its response to key areas of concern raised by the Banking Royal Commission, including with respect to governance, culture and remuneration ($145.0 million over four years from 2019 20). APRA's increased budget includes $34.3 million to extend the Banking Executive Accountability Regime to all APRA-regulated entities, including superannuation funds and insurance companies;
  • establishing an independent financial regulator oversight authority, to assess and report on the effectiveness of ASIC and APRA in discharging their functions and meeting their statutory objectives ($7.7 million over three years from 2020 21);
  • undertaking a capability review of APRA which will examine its effectiveness and efficiency in delivering its statutory mandate, as well as its capability to respond to the Banking Royal Commission ($1.0 million in 2018 19);
  • establishing a Financial Services Reform Implementation Taskforce within the Treasury to implement the Government's response to the Banking Royal Commission, and co ordinate reform efforts with APRA, ASIC and other agencies, through an implementation steering committee ($11.2 million in 2019 20); and
  • providing the Office of Parliamentary Counsel with additional funding for the volume of legislative drafting that will be required to implement the Government's response to the Banking Royal Commission ($0.9 million in 2019 20). The cost of this measure is proposed to be partially offset by revenue received through ASIC's industry funding model and increases in the APRA Financial Institutions Supervisory Levies and from funding already provisioned in the Budget.

Funding ABC and SBS

The Government will provide $4.0 billion over three years from 2019 20 to Australia's Public Broadcasters, including $3.2 billion to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and $851.8 million to the Special Broadcasting Service Corporation (SBS). This base operational funding for the ABC and the SBS is determined on a three year rolling basis for the operation of television, radio and online services.

Other Funding

The Government has committed to providing additional funding to a range of new and established governmental agencies. Some of these will include:

  • the National Library;
  • Tasmanian Tourism;
  • the Australian Music Industry;
  • the ATO in respect of a new data centre;
  • funding for Federal Cyber Security; and
  • Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) to expand the Fintel Alliance.
On 2 August 2022, the Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response) Bill 2022 was passed (Aged Care Bill), introducing important regulatory changes to Australia’s aged care sector. The Bill makes numerous legislative amendments, including to the Aged Care Act 1997 (Cth) (Aged Care Act) and the Aged Care (Transitional Provisions) Act 1997 (Cth) (Transitional Provisions Act), and responds to various recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety (Royal Commission) Final Report (Report). The Report identified the provision of substandard aged care services and perceived systemic failures in the aged care sector.[1]

08 August 2022

The Federal Court has refused an application to stay proceedings to quantify compensation for patent infringement (quantum proceedings) pending the outcome of separate parallel proceedings challenging the validity of the infringed patent on new grounds. The case is significant as intellectual property cases are regularly bifurcated with liability determined separately damages or an account of profits. A patentee may also bring consecutive infringement cases and therefore have two separate cases considering invalidity issues for the same patent running in parallel.

03 August 2022

Since the introduction of a nationwide Marketing Authorization Holder (MAH) system in 2019, licenses have linked directly to therapeutic products rather than manufacturers.

03 August 2022