Attorney-General’s Portfolio Budget Measures 2015-16

 

The 2015 Budget is part of the Commonwealth Gov­ernment’s plan to build a strong, safe and prosperous future for all Australians.

 

Within the Attorney-Gen­eral’s portfolio, the most important measures give further strength to the Ab­bott Government’s deter­mination to keep Austral­ians safe from the threat of terrorism.

 

Further measures to keep Australia safe include:

 

Enhancing the investigative capabilities of law enforcement and security agencies

 

The Government will pro­vide $131.3 million over three years to help the tel­ecommunications industry meet their initial capital costs of retaining a limited set of metadata for a period of two years. This is a sub­stantial contribution that will reduce the cost burden on Australian telecommu­nication businesses while substantially improving the availability of data to assist law enforcement and secu­rity agencies in investiga­tions.

 

Telecommunications data plays a key role in almost every national security and serious criminal investi­gation, including murder, sexual assault, child ex­ploitation and kidnapping investigations. It is also central to almost every organised crime, counter-espionage, cyber-security and counter-terrorism in­vestigation.

 

The data retention legisla­tion, passed by the Austral­ian Parliament in March, gives law enforcement and security agencies certainty on the data available for their investigations while introducing new safeguards and reducing the number of agencies that can access the data.

 

Countering violent ex­tremism

 

The Government has tri­pled investment in Coun­tering Violent Extremism programmes – from around$3 million per annum to more than $40 million over four years.

 

As announced on 19 Feb­ruary, the Government is developing new meas­ures to challenge terrorist propaganda online through an investment of more than $21 million over four years.

 

Every day ISIL and its supporters create upwards of 100,000 pieces of online propaganda on one social media platform alone.

 

This new commitment comprises a multifaceted effort to understand, limit access to and undermine the appeal of extremist propaganda. This work, which includes working with communities, indus­try and international part­ners, will help counter the significant threat to young Australians from insidi­ous terrorist recruitment propaganda that is spread through social media.

 

This important initiative is just one element of the Government’s broader ef­fort to counter violent ex­tremism, pursued through the ongoing work of a range of government agen­cies at the Commonwealth and state levels, and com­plementary new govern­ment commitments.

 

Access to Justice

 

The Australian Govern­ment will invest $1.3 bil­lion over five years for the new National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assis­tance Services

The new Agreement will improve planning, coordi­nation and delivery of ser­vices at the local level, to disadvantaged Australians in areas such as family law.

 

Indigenous legal assis­tance providers will con­tinue to be funded directly by the Commonwealth.

 

On 26 March 2015, the Government announced the restoration of $25.5 million over two years to provide certainty to the sector.

 

This includes:

 $12 million for the Com­munity Legal Services Pro­gramme;

 $11.5 million for the In­digenous Legal Assistance Programme; and

 $2 million for the Ex­pensive Commonwealth Criminal Cases Fund.

 

Funding of $5.8 million over four years will con­tinue to support the Native Title Respondents Scheme. The scheme, which pro­vides assistance to respond­ents to native title claims, will ensure that native ti­tle claims are resolved in an efficient and equitable manner for all parties.

 

Other Measures

 

Ensuring the sustainability of Courts

 

An additional $22.5 mil­lion over four years will be provided to the Federal Court, the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court to strengthen their financial positions and en­hance their capacity to pro­vide services.

 

The other measures essen­tial to ensuring the courts’ sustainability and meeting the Government’s election commitment of streamlin­ing family court processes include:

 

 Merger of back-office functions of the three courts (to commence 1 July 2016);

 Critical maintenance works for court buildings; and

 Changes to court fees (to commence 1 July 2015).

 

Further investment in the Arts

 

Once again, the interests of Australia’s cultural sec­tor have been protected and advanced by the 2015-16 Budget.

 

At the centre of the meas­ures to support the arts sector is the investment of $104.8 million over four years to establish a Nation­al Programme for Excel­lence in the Arts to support endowments, international touring and strategic pro­jects, with an emphasis on attracting private sector support.

 

The National Programme for Excellence in the Arts will allow for a truly na­tional approach to arts funding and will deliver on a number of Government priorities including na­tional access to high qual­ity arts and cultural experi­ences.

 

Arts funding has until now been limited almost exclu­sively to projects favoured by the Australia Council. The National Programme for Excellence in the Arts will make funding avail­able to a wider range of arts companies and arts practitioners, while at the same time respecting the preferences and tastes of Australia’s audiences.

 

Accordingly, the Visions of Australia and Festivals Australia programmes will return to the Ministry for the Arts after being trans­ferred to Australia Council by the previous govern­ment. The Major Festivals Initiative will also be trans­ferred with support for this programme to be doubled to $1.5 million.

 

Creative Partnerships Australia will receive $5.2 million over three years starting in 2015-16 to fos­ter private sector support for the arts.

 

Funds for these pro­grammes will be trans­ferred to the Ministry for the Arts from the Australia Council, ensuring that gov­ernment support is avail­able for a broader range of arts and cultural activities.

 

The Australia Coun­cil will continue to be the principal arts funding body, providing funding to artists and arts organisations of approximately $185 mil­lion per annum.

 

There will be no reduction in the Australia Council’s funding to the 28 major performing arts companies as a result of this initiative.

 

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