social issues


Budget Review 2008-09 Contents

Budget 2008 09: social issues

Health

Amanda Biggs, Rebecca de Boer, Dr Rhonda Jolly and Dr Matthew Thomas
Social Policy Section

Introduction

Broadly, this Budget is aimed at meeting election commitments, such as the funding of promised health and hospitals reform measures, the establishment of GP Super Clinics and a range of preventative health measures. To meet these election promises, funding has been drawn from future surpluses, the excise on so-called alcopops (expected to generate $3.1 billion) or redirected from programs funded by the previous government. This Budget also outlines significant changes to the framework in which future Commonwealth health funding will be provided to the states, by reducing the number of Specific Purpose Payments and introducing new national agreements.[1]

Although the proposed changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) failed to generate significant media attention, the shift towards full cost recovery for the listing of products on the PBS and the National Immunisation Program (NIP) represent a dramatic shift in government policy and how the PBS operates. Another under-reported shift in health policy is the means-testing of the subsidy for insulin pumps, to be used in the treatment of type 1 diabetes (T1D). This is the first time in the 60-year operation of the PBS that a listed item will be subject to means-testing. One of the implicit policy objectives of the National Medicines Policy and the PBS is universality of access on the basis of need, rather than capacity to pay.[2]

Given that a number of significant reports in recent times have emphasised the need for innovative thinking about ways to improve health workforce recruitment and retention, it is disappointing that the Budget did not make provision to explore such options.

Savings and realignment of other funding

Amanda Biggs
Social Policy Section

A number of existing health programs identified as underperforming, duplicating or not doing the job have had their funding significantly reduced in order to fund other budget initiatives.[3] Significant savings have been made in areas affecting general practice ($244 million), the private health insurance rebate ($299 million), clinical training for nurses ($169.9 million) and advertising campaigns ($50 million).

Arguably not all programs identified for savings are without merit. For example, the GP Immunisation Services Incentive Payment, identified as a saving of $83.7 million, is paid to GPs as an incentive for the completion of a childhood immunisation. It has helped achieve immunisation rates of 90 per cent in general practices around Australia. The government argues that this incentive payment duplicates existing immunisation incentives and initiatives.[4] There may be a risk that by removing this duplication other immunisation efforts may be undermined. Some have also warned that the cuts to general practice programs such as this one may exacerbate tensions between the government and some doctors groups.[5]

Health and Hospitals Reform

Significant reforms to health and hospitals were announced prior to the election, as part of Labor s promise to end the blame game . Further funding announcements, notably $600 million in funding to the states and territories to reduce elective surgery waiting times, and significant spending on the nursing workforce have been made in recent months. This Budget also announces the establishment of a $10 billion Health and Hospitals Fund, to support investment in health infrastructure, medical equipment and research. The Health and Hospitals Fund, to be supported by budget surpluses and established by 1 January 2009, replaces and expands the previous government s Health and Medical Infrastructure Fund.[6] Full details are yet to emerge as to how projects will be assessed for funding, other than as part of each year s budget process. This lack of detail has raised some concerns that such a large fund could be used for other purposes, such as to fund future election commitments.[7]

Preventative health and chronic disease initiatives

The Budget provides significant funding to meet a range of election commitments in the preventative health and chronic disease prevention areas. Significant funding has been allocated to: the Healthy Kids Check for all four-year-olds ($25.6 million), cancer and cancer screening ($173 million), a range of initiatives to tackle obesity ($62 million), binge drinking ($53.5 million) and tobacco ($29.5 million), support for perinatal depression ($55 million from the Commonwealth with $30 million to be sought from the states and territories), closing the gap on Indigenous health ($334.8 million) and support for dental health ($780.7 million). The increased excise on so-called alcopops , expected to raise some $3.1 billion in revenue, will help fund these initiatives, but the Coalition has claimed that the tax will fail to reduce binge drinking.[8]

Dental initiatives

The dental health funding is significant as it marks a more direct role for the Commonwealth in funding dental health. During the 2007 election Labor promised to redirect funding from the existing Medicare Allied Health and Dental Care initiative for people with chronic conditions to two new dental programs and also to fund the James Cook University s dental school. This Budget allocates $780.7 million for these initiatives. Funding of $290 million over three years is to be provided to the states and territories to clear public dental waiting list backlogs (estimated at 650 000). Although priority is still to be given to patients with chronic conditions, the National Oral Health Plan specifies that equal priority be given to other disadvantaged or vulnerable groups.[9] One problem that may affect the capacity to reduce waiting lists is the shortage in the dentistry workforce, particularly the public dental workforce. It has been estimated that by 2010 there will be 1500 fewer oral health providers than will be needed just to maintain current levels of access.[10]

The Budget also provides $490.7 million for the Teen Dental Plan, due to commence on 1 July 2008. This means-tested initiative, paid through Medicare, provides for up to 1.1 million eligible teenagers (aged 12 to 17 years) to receive assistance of $150 per year for a dental checkup. While previous Medicare arrangements for dental services targeted specific population groups, the focus has remained firmly on clinical need, not socio-economic status. This means-tested application of Medicare represents a shift from a model that has previously provided universal access based on clinical need.

Medicare levy surcharge changes

The Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS) is an additional 1 per cent surcharge on top of the 1.5 per cent Medicare levy on taxable income which helps fund Medicare. Introduced in 1997, the MLS applies to those on incomes over $50 000 (individuals) or $100 000 (couples) without private health insurance. Some 465 327 individuals paid the surcharge in 2005 06, raising around $289 million in taxation revenue.[11] The government proposes to raise the MLS thresholds (which have remained unchanged) to $100 000 for singles and $150 000 for couples. The measure is expected to generate savings in the form of reductions in government rebates for health insurance premiums, resulting in $299.2 million in savings overall.[12]

The changes to the MLS have attracted criticism. The Australian Health Insurance Association (AHIA) and the Australian Medical Association (AMA) have expressed concerns that the changes will lead to an exodus of members from private health insurance and strain the already stretched public hospital sector.[13] Not all in the private sector agree; the Australian Private Hospitals Association described the likely effects of the proposed changes as greatly exaggerated .[14]

While the government has conceded that it expects some 485 000 people may elect to drop their private health insurance as a result of this measure, claims of a mass exodus and its possible impacts on the public hospital system have been questioned for a number of reasons.[15]

First, the decision to purchase private health insurance is not based solely on avoiding a tax penalty. In addition to the MLS, there are other incentives that encourage private health insurance membership notably Lifetime Health Cover and the Private Health Insurance Rebate. It has been pointed out that when the MLS was introduced in 1997 it failed to halt declining private health insurance membership. This decline was only reversed from 2000, following the introduction of the other two health insurance incentives.[16] Furthermore, other factors influence a decision to purchase health insurance, including personal preferences and incomes. According to one industry executive, the most important drivers of private health insurance membership, along with government incentives, are rising incomes and falling confidence in public hospitals.[17]

Secondly, it has been argued that those who purchase health insurance to avoid the penalty of the MLS tend to be young and healthy. They purchase the cheapest products with high co-payments (or front-end deductibles) and continue to use public hospital services to avoid these high co-payments.[18] If so, this suggests that their opting out would not place an additional burden on the public hospital sector and therefore the negative impact may be less than some have claimed. Regardless, the assumption that the young will opt out may not be correct. Other penalties, such as the higher premiums for health insurance that are faced after the age of 31, may well prove a disincentive to dropping private cover for those aged over 30.

If there were to be a decline in membership of younger healthy members, it may add pressure to premiums as funds seek to reduce their costs. But, in an indication that the health insurance industry does not envisage any longer-term damage, the proposed acquisition by BUPA Australia of the heath fund MBF is set to proceed, despite the announced changes to the MLS.[19]

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

Rebecca de Boer
Social Policy Section

Over the past 18 months, the operation of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) has undergone significant policy change. The previous government introduced the PBS Reform Package in late 2006 with a staged implementation model (with Stage 2 to be implemented in August 2008). There are two budget measures which will be of particular significance to the operation of the PBS the move to cost recovery for evaluation and listing on the PBS and the decision to reduce the funding for the generics medicines awareness campaign. Other PBS measures include the listing of several high cost drugs on the PBS and the subsidisation of insulin pumps, to be used in the treatment of type 1 diabetes (T1D).

Cost recovery for listing of products on the PBS and NIP

The shift towards cost recovery of the administration of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), the Committee which advises which drugs should be subsidised, and the system of listing drugs on the PBS is expected to generate additional revenue of $7 million over four years, with a net cost of $2.2 million.[20]

This measure was first announced in the 2005 06 Budget, with a proposed implementation date of 2007 08 (later set for 1 July 2007 and then 1 January 2008). At the time, there was widespread concern about the introduction of this measure with concerns that it may undermine the independence of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) and possibly result in manufacturers declining to list products on the PBS (especially for low volume products).[21]

Although described in the budget papers as an election commitment, it has not been possible to locate the introduction of cost recovery to Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) processes in the ALP election platform or other health policy documents. Furthermore, during the parliamentary debate about the legislative change package associated with the introduction of the PBS Reform package in 2007, Nicola Roxon noted:

The PBAC needs to be independent of government and of industry, and we cannot see the justification for this move to the cost-recovery model.[22]

It would appear that the introduction of cost recovery arrangements therefore caught the pharmaceutical industry by surprise.[23] In addition, there are fears that this measure could undermine the independence of the PBAC and result in higher drug prices to consumers.[24] As it will be necessary for the industry to recoup these additional costs, it may lead to higher prices for pharmaceuticals and a subsequent increase in cost to government. This was acknowledged by senior Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) officials during a Senate Estimates hearing in 2005.[25]

DoHA has argued that as the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) operates under cost recovery arrangements, it is a logical extension for the PBAC to operate under the same arrangements.[26] However, the TGA and PBAC have vastly different roles: the TGA determines whether a drug (or medical device) can be marketed in Australia whereas the PBAC recommends to the Minister which drug should receive public subsidy on the PBS and which vaccines should be publicly funded under the National Immunisation Program (NIP).

In this context, the role of cost recovery is questionable. Although cost recovery arrangements for the TGA and for the evaluation of prostheses for listing on the Medicare Benefits Schedule exist, it is difficult to compare these with the proposed arrangement for the PBS.

Cost recovery arrangements for prostheses were designed to reduce expenditure on prostheses which had been increasing significantly.[27] In this budget measure, cost recovery arrangements are being introduced to offset the additional costs associated with evaluating and listing new products on the PBS.[28] Given these vastly different objectives, comparisons between the two are difficult, except to note that pharmaceuticals are widely used in the community and the PBS (including the listing process) is an integral part of the delivery of timely and affordable access to medicines.

According to the Productivity Commission, cost recovery arrangements should only be introduced to improve economic efficiency and cost recovery should not be implemented where it would be inconsistent with policy objectives .[29] This view is also echoed in the Australian Government Cost Recovery Guidelines.[30] Subjecting assessment of medicines to cost recovery in order to increase economic efficiencies may undermine government health policy objectives in relation to timely and affordable access to essential medicines. As the primary focus of the PBS is timely and affordable access at a cost the community can afford , charging companies for the products to be listed on the PBS may lead to delays in listings and higher drug prices for government.

Leaving aside the policy and regulatory arguments, the proposed implementation date of 1 July 2008 puts considerable pressure on DoHA, the pharmaceutical industry and the PBAC. Although DoHA has released a Frequently Asked Questions document explaining the changes, it has not released the associated charges or the proposed consultation strategy.

In addition, an unintended consequence of this policy may be that it will now become more difficult for non-industry bodies to apply for products to be listed on the PBS. There are no restrictions on who can make a submission to the PBAC. In order to be considered by the PBAC, submissions must fulfil the technical requirements. It may be difficult for clinicians or patient groups to raise the necessary funds to not only prepare the submission, but also to have it considered by the PBAC. The proposed cost recovery arrangements may therefore well act as a barrier to their applying.

Generic medicines campaign

The PBS Reform package was expected to save the government more than $580 million.[31] A key feature of the PBS Reforms, and indeed, a key factor in the predicted savings being realised was the increased usage of generics. It is with interest to note that the proposed generics medicine campaign designed to promote the use of generics to prescribers and consumers and to be implemented as part of the PBS Reform package will be reduced from $20 million to $5.1 million, to be spent before the end of this financial year.[32]

When the government was first considering the generics awareness campaign it was expected to comprise print, radio and television advertisements, which promote the safety, health and economic aspects of generic medicines .[33] The decrease in funding will curtail the extent of the advertising campaign and potentially limit its effectiveness. It will also limit the information available to consumers about the benefits of generic medicines.[34] This may have flow-on effects to whether the full extent of the savings might be realised from the PBS Reform package and may result in unnecessary expenditure by consumers. It has been noted by the Generic Medicines Industry Association that last year consumers paid a premium for medicines which had a generic equivalent for over 28 million prescriptions.[35]

New drug listings on the PBS

This Budget also extended the listings of many products that were already listed on the PBS, as well as introduced the listing of Naglazyme (galsulfase) to assist patients with a rare, debilitating enzyme deficiency called Maroteaux-Lamy Syndrome. Notably, insulin pumps for young people with T1D will be subsidised on a means tested basis. As noted in other parts of this section, the means testing of subsidies is a shift away from universal access based on clinical need.

Insulin pumps

The Budget provides $5.5 million over four years for means-tested subsidies on a sliding scale towards the cost of insulin pumps for people with T1D under the age of 18. Those receiving the maximum subsidy of $2500 will need to pay at least that amount again for the most basic model of insulin pump. The measure does not take into account other people who may have a clinical need for an insulin pump and need support, including young adults with T1D and women with gestational diabetes. The budget papers do not indicate how much of the funding will be provided to Centrelink to administer the means testing .[36]

Aged Care

Rebecca de Boer
Social Policy Section

The previous government introduced significant changes to the aged care sector as part of the 2007 08 Budget. Many of the changes, such as the Aged Care Funding Instrument, have been retained by the Rudd Government. This Budget announced a range of measures for the aged care sector including:

  • additional transition care places
  • increasing the level of the Conditional Adjustment Payment (CAP)
  • $300 million in zero interest real loans
  • increasing the nursing workforce in residential aged care and
  • a commitment to regularly reviewing the aged care planning ratios.

These budget measures have failed to generate significant commentary. The Aged Care Industry Council expressed relief that there were no significant cuts to the aged care sector and were relieved that the CAP was extended.[37] Other peak lobby groups have focussed on the gaps between the cost of living and the aged pension rather than the budget measures per se.[38]

As has been a recurring theme in the analysis of the Budget, many of the aged care measures reflect either election commitments or announcements made prior to the Budget (for example, the Ministerial Council on Ageing, the appointment of an Ambassador for Ageing, zero real interest loans and additional transition aged care places).

Earlier commentary in this brief has noted that it is disappointing that this Budget did not make any meaningful contribution towards addressing the significant health workforce challenges. An extra (up to) 1000 nurses over five years in the residential aged care sector will do little to address the declining workforce and pay disparities in the sector or the broader challenges facing the aged care workforce.

This initiative is part of a broader measure to encourage 8750 qualified nurses to return to the workforce and to create 90 new Commonwealth supported university places in nursing in 2008 and 2009.[39] Unless these places are specifically quarantined, there is a danger that these places will become part of the allocation for the entire nursing sector and will not directly benefit the residential aged care sector.

Health workforce

Dr Rhonda Jolly
Social Policy Section

Prior to the Budget the government made commitments to a number of health workforce initiatives. These included an announcement that up to 50 000 additional training places for allied health professionals, an area of the health workforce that has often been overlooked in workforce planning, would be introduced from January 2009.[40]

Budget press releases confirm the commitment to new allied health workforce places and introduce a number of other workforce measures. The only other measure to target allied health workers specifically, however, is minor. From 2009, allied health students will be able to apply for scholarships to undertake clinical placements in rural and remote areas. This program will receive $2.5 million over a three year period from 2009. While this commitment does respond to concerns expressed by the allied health representative body about clinical training places, funding for the measure is far from substantial.[41]

As it is intended that allied health professionals are an integral part of the government s new Super Clinics strategy, it is surprising that allied health measures did not figure more prominently in the 2008 09 Budget. One such measure could well have been an education program to inform general practitioners about the allied health professions, the services they can offer and the health cost-effectiveness of many treatments delivered by allied health professionals.[42] Another measure might have been an incentives program to encourage allied health professionals to relocate to rural Super Clinics, given that there may be some resistance from these professionals (and nurses) to working in a general practice oriented setting as opposed to a community health or an autonomous practice environment.

The most significant health workforce budget measure is a commitment to funding of $99.5 million over four years from 2008 09 for new Commonwealth supported university nursing places. Under this measure, 90 places will be available from July 2008 and a further 1170 in 2009. By increasing places in nursing and medicine, this measure complements recent efforts by the previous government to respond to predictions that student places were inadequate to meet future health demands.

Another measure which aims to increase nursing numbers involves the offer of cash bonuses to encourage some of the 30 000 qualified nurses currently not employed in the health and aged care sectors to return to their profession. This measure responds in part to Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) criticism in 2007 of the previous government s proposal to introduce hospital nursing schools. At that time the ANF argued that encouraging already trained nurses back into the profession was a more effective solution to nursing shortages than increasing the cohort of less skilled nurses.[43]

Bonuses under this return-to-nursing measure will be available to those nurses who have not been employed in the health workforce for a period of more than a year. Six months after their return to the hospital or residential aged care systems the nurses will receive $3000, with a further $3000 being paid after they have been employed for 18 months. Hospitals and aged care providers will receive $1000 for each nurse who re-enters the workforce to assist with the re-training of these nurses. This measure will receive $39.4 million over five years.

Other nursing initiatives in the Budget include: an additional $35 million over four years to provide postgraduate scholarships for mental health nurses, funding for the creation of a Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer position and funding of $12 million to train specialist breast cancer nurses.

Given the ageing of the population, it is regrettable that the Budget did not provide more funding for specialist nursing training or support in areas such as geriatric nursing. As the Australian Nursing Federation response to the government s aged care funding announcements in the Budget points out, aged care nurses and carers are the worst paid in the health care industry.[44] However, apart from the cash bonuses incentive, nothing in the aged care package or in the Budget generally addresses this fundamental problem. Reports have consistently noted the shortage of nurses in aged care and pay and conditions are fundamental barriers to their recruitment and retention. The previous government provided funding to encourage more people to choose geriatric nursing as a career through a scholarship program which was allocated funding until 2010 11.[45] Further support could have been provided by supplementing this recruitment measure with a retention incentive program. Suggestions for the introduction of nurse practitioner pilot programs for aged care could also have been taken up.[46]

Funding for medical workforce initiatives in the Budget is minimal. It does, however, include $4.6 million over four years to expand the John Flynn Placement Program (formerly the John Flynn Scholarship Scheme). This program has been a long-term strategy of government to increase the number of doctors choosing to practice in rural and remote areas. It subsidises supervised placements for students in general practice, hospitals or other medical facilities in rural and remote communities for a minimum two-week period over a four year period. An additional 150 places will commence in the program over each of the four years of funding. These will double the total number of places from 600 in 2008 to 1200 in 2012.

Additional funding of $12 million over four years will be given to the Medical Specialist Outreach Assistance Program which provides funding to support specialists who visit rural and remote areas and who provide support to rural and remote specialists and general practitioners. The Specialist Obstetrician Locum Scheme will also receive funding of $7.9 million.

Understandably, pre-budget submissions from lobby groups, such as the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), urged the government to concentrate its health workforce efforts on the medical workforce. The AMA called for funding to deliver training opportunities for doctors in the private sector and increased support for medical student clinical placements and the funding of pre-vocational medical student training placements in general practice.[47] The RACGP also sought funding for teaching practices and increased incentives to encourage doctors to take on more trainees. It also called for funding to be provided to improve the working, economic and social conditions available to overseas trained doctors, by giving these doctors access to benefits like educational support and Medicare.[48]

No funding was provided in the Budget for these measures, a number of which have potential to contribute to the government s overall objective of delivering responsible health spending. The pilot program suggested by the RACGP, which would assist overseas trained doctors to acquire Australian general practice fellowship qualifications, is an example of where a minimal budget outlay could potentially have delivered significant positive outcomes.

Overall, in terms of health workforce planning, this Budget perhaps reflects that the government has had limited time in office to consider more comprehensive and subtle workforce planning apart from increasing training numbers. Given that training for any health profession takes time, allocating funding initially for training purposes is not a bad start. Within the wider health reform agenda, however, opportunities have already appeared that the government should seize on in thinking more creatively about the composition and structure of the future health workforce. One of these coincided with the announcement of the findings of a rural workforce audit on 30 April 2008. At that time the government committed to examining existing programs that support rural health professionals. This situation presents the opportunity to explore workforce options beyond traditional solutions to shortages and to more efficient delivery of services, such as the introduction of new health professionals or innovative approaches to the types of work undertaken by different health workers. [49] These types of options have been discussed for some time by health academics and practising professionals and they fit within the framework outlined by the government for long-term reform focused on delivering better health outcomes and sustainable improvements to the system.

Alcopop tax

Dr Matthew Thomas
Social Policy Section

As a part of its revenue measures, the government has increased the excise tax on other excisable beverages not exceeding ten per cent alcohol by volume a category that includes Ready to Drink alcohol products, or alcopops to match the tax rate for full-strength spirits. The measure increased the tax rate from $39.36 to $66.67 per litre of alcohol from 27 April 2008. This increase in excise has been presented by the government as a health measure, calculated to tackle the problem of binge drinking among young Australians, and especially young women. The measure was prompted, in part, by 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey figures, which indicate that a significant number of young women are drinking at risky levels.[50] Alcopops are widely recognised as being young Australian women s drink of choice.

The Budget papers indicate that the Minister s original estimate of the amount of revenue likely to be raised as a result of the tax, $2 billion, was understated. The ongoing gain to revenue of the measure from 27 April 2008 and over the forward estimates period is now expected to be $3.1 billion.[51] This revision, when combined with the fact that alcopop drinking levels are forecast to increase in spite of the tax rise, has led the Opposition and some other commentators to criticise the increase as a blatant tax grab .[52] In response to such claims, the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, has defended the measure as a legitimate means to tackle the problem of teenage binge drinking, stating that all of the medical evidence and all of the scientific evidence and all of the behavioural evidence indicates that [young people] are responsive to price .[53]

There is indeed such evidence. Treasury advice tabled in Parliament indicates that the tax change is anticipated to slow the consumption of alcopops by 202.7 million bottles over the forward estimates period.[54] According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), increased alcohol taxation has demonstrated evidence of effectiveness in reducing alcohol-related problems among young people. Because young people tend to be on limited budgets, the WHO notes that alcohol consumption amongst this demographic is more sensitive to price changes. And, where alcohol taxes have been increased in some developed countries, this has been found to have reduced among young people the harmful consequences associated with excessive drinking.[55]

Nevertheless, it should be noted that there is also some evidence that restrictions placed on the sale and availability of alcohol can increase the use of harmful alcohol substitutes among young people.[56] It is also the case that young people could avoid the tax by purchasing bottled spirits and soft drinks and mixing their own. Indeed, according to some reports, young people are already doing so.[57] Where this does occur, concerns have been expressed by Drug and Alcohol Services SA Executive Director, Keith Evans, that young people could mix drinks that have an alcohol content significantly higher than that of alcopops .[58] Alternatively, despite their preference for pre-mixed spirit drinks, young people could simply binge drink using alternative, cheaper alcoholic products, such as wine or beer.[59]

Given the multi-faceted nature of alcohol-related problems, broad-based policy approaches that employ different, but synergistic, strategies, rather than individual measures in isolation, are required to effectively tackle binge drinking.[60] This is where the National Binge Drinking Strategy measures, also introduced in the Budget, are intended by the government to come into play. The government has committed:

  • $19.1 million over four years to support early intervention and diversion programs for people under the age of 18 years who engage in binge drinking[61]
  • $20 million over two years towards an education and information campaign via television, the radio and the Internet that will confront people with the costs and consequences of binge drinking[62]
  • a further $14.5 million over four years to develop partnerships with community and sporting organisations to tackle binge drinking among young people.

Each of these measures is to be funded using existing resources. The government has been silent on the question of whether or not it intends to introduce restrictions on alcohol advertising to complement the National Binge Drinking Strategy measures.[63]

Based on a review of research and statistics from Member States, the WHO found that educational approaches to the prevention of alcohol problems among young people are of limited use, in and of themselves.[64] Moreover, it should also be noted that the education and information campaign will need to compete with the alcohol promotion and marketing activities of the alcohol industry, which frequently target young people. However, where the campaign is combined with the early intervention and diversion programs, and supported by the public and relevant stakeholders, it is possible, based on available evidence, that it may yield some results.[65]

It is worth noting that while the government has indicated that it is committed to investing a proportion of the revenue gained through the tax in preventative health initiatives, it provides no indication of how much this is to be.

On 15 May 2008, the alcopop tax was referred to the Senate s Community Affairs Committee.[66]

 

Education

Carol Kempner
Social Policy Section

Introduction

Under the label Education Revolution, the Rudd Government has introduced a package of education expenditure measures in the 2008 09 Budget which totals $13.5 billion over four years (a small amount of this has been expended in 2007 08). The Minister s Budget: Education Revolution 2008 09 statement estimates the commitment at $19.3 billion over the next four years.[67] The main education innovation in this Budget is in the area of early childhood education (addressed in a separate section of this Budget Review) where the government s aim is to provide universal access. In the school education, higher education and vocational education sectors the Budget focuses on meeting the government s election commitments. The promises of retaining the current system of funding for non-government schools until 2012, phasing out domestic undergraduate full-fee paying places and replacing the Australian Skills Voucher program with a new program, the Priority Places program, are all met. However, in all three areas major systemic changes to funding arrangements are awaiting the outcomes of reviews and negotiations with the states and territories and other stakeholders.

As the alternate figures above would suggest, the funding figures do not explain fully the Government s commitment to its education revolution . Despite apparent increases in expenditure by the Rudd Government in many areas, the Budget s estimates of expenses by function show that total education expenditure of $18.7 billion for 2008 09 varies little from the estimated expenditure for the 2007 08 year. Furthermore, there is little variation between the Rudd Government s 2008 09 Budget projections for education expenses for 2010 11 and those projected in the Coalition Government s 2007 08 Budget ($20.7 billion and $20.2 billion respectively). The 2008 09 Budget projections do, however, indicate an increase to $21.8 billion in 2011 12.[68]

The way that expenditures are accounted for in the different budget documents is part of the reason why budget measures figures are hard to reconcile with estimates of expenses by function. For example, it is unclear whether the government s new early childhood measures (which are addressed in a separate section of this Budget Review) or the new Education Investment Fund (EIF) are accounted for in the expenses for the education function in Budget Paper No. 1. However, it is also likely that the apparently limited impact of this Budget on total expenses for the education function is in part accounted for by the Government s strategy for meeting the cost of its new commitments with offsets from savings identified under its Responsible Economic Management measures.[69] Therefore, measuring the extent of the education revolution may well have to rely more on an assessment of the new policy priorities and programs, and of their effectiveness, than on the more often-used measure in political debate, the size of government expenditure.

School education

Marilyn Harrington
Social Policy Section

Introduction

The 2008 09 Budget is a transition budget for school education, with elements of the former government s policies remaining or redirected to fund the Rudd Government s budget measures, which are the result of election commitments. With legislation for the new schools funding quadrennium for 2009 to 2012 due this year, the schools funding agreements with the states and territories yet to be finalised, and the Rudd Government s commitment to retain the current system of funding for non-government schools until 2012, the future direction of Australian Government funding for schools remains to be seen.

Schools funding

A note on Budget data

The Budget continues the pattern of Commonwealth support for schools. According to Budget Paper No. 1, of the estimated $9.6 billion allocated to schools in 2008 09, 67 per cent will be provided to non-government schools.[70] The table of expenses by function and sub-function in Budget Paper No. 1 provides an estimated $6.4 billion for non-government schools and $3.1 billion for government schools.[71] These figures vary slightly from those in Budget Paper No. 3 which show $3.5 billion for government schools and $6.5 billion for non-government schools.[72]

It is not clear from the budget papers exactly how much money will be allocated for government and non-government schools by line item because the payments for schools for 2008 09 have yet to be determined. Hence, while the Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS) indicate a total of $7.7 billion for General Recurrent Grants (GRGs), in Table B.3 in Budget Paper No. 3, only $985 million is apparently allocated for GRGs to government schools (compared to $1.8 billion in 2007 08) and $2.9 billion for non-government schools (compared to $5.3 billion in 2007 08).[73] Similarly, for capital grants, the PBS indicates a total of $473.5 million, while Budget Paper No. 3 indicates an allocation of $165 million in capital grants to government schools (compared to $528.5 million in 2007 08) and $93 million to non-government schools (compared to $237.2 million in 2007 08).[74] Nevertheless, it should be expected that there will be some reduction in the capital funding line item because of the cessation of the Investing in Our Schools Programme. There is also a similar discrepancy in the figures for targeted programs; and the National Partnership Payments are not disaggregated by school sector.

There is also some confusion about the funding increase for schools as indicated by the figures in Budget Paper No. 1 which appear to indicate that funding for schools is only increasing by 0.3 per cent from 2007 08 to 2008 09, compared to a percentage increase of 8.8 per cent for the previous financial year.[75] However, if the figures from the PBS are applied, the increase is in the order of 9.9 per cent.[76]

It should also be noted that the tabulations for estimated payments for education to the states for 2008 09 in Table B.3 of Budget Paper No. 3 are incorrect because figures in the totals column have been counted twice.

Policy settings

The Rudd Government has committed to retaining the existing system of GRGs to non-government schools (the SES system) until 2012, but has promised to conduct a public review of its operation.[77] Meanwhile, in response to funding anomalies in the SES system, the Budget provides an additional $16 million over four years from 2007 08 for Orthodox Jewish schools.[78]

The government is also intent on determining the socio-economic status of government schools for funding purposes. The Council of Australian Governments has agreed:

to the development of a national partnership agreement focused on the particular educational needs of low socio-economic status school communities. This partnership will form part of the national education funding agreement to be introduced at the beginning of 2009.[79]

Some stakeholders are disappointed about the funding for schools allocated in this Budget.[80] In particular, since 2001 four reports have drawn attention to the problems of primary school resourcing, for both government and non-government schools. Two of these reports concluded that many government and non-government primary schools, particularly those serving disadvantaged communities, did not have sufficient resources to meet the National Goals for Schooling.[81]

The Australian Primary Principals Association has called for government primary school GRGs to be increased to the same percentage of Average Government School Recurrent Cost index (AGSRC) as government secondary school GRGs.[82] Currently, government primary schools are funded at 8.9 per cent of the primary AGSRC amount, compared to government secondary schools which are funded at 10 per cent of the secondary AGSRC amount. Based on 2007 government primary school enrolments and the 2007 primary AGSRC amount, such a proposed increase would amount to an estimated additional $115 million dollars per annum.

Another funding need which has received some attention, and which has not been responded to in this Budget, is additional funding for students with disabilities. According to the Independent Schools Council of Australia, independent schools are not adequately resourced by governments to meet their legislated obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.[83] The National Catholic Education Commission has called for more federal government funding for students with disabilities to ensure that all such students receive comparable funding irrespective of the school they attend . It also advocated that, as an interim measure , funding of students with disabilities be equivalent to 65 per cent of the cost of educating such a student in a government school.[84] Primary school principals have also reported grossly insufficient resourcing for students with disabilities and that many of these students do not qualify for disability funding.[85] In 2006 the previous government committed $5.8 million for a project to investigate funding arrangements for student with disabilities Investigating the Feasibility of Flexible Funding for Students with Disability. However, no information on the project s progress has yet been made available.[86]

Schools Programs

The budget measures for schools programs reflect a shift in policy focus. The previous government introduced a range of programs that provided funding directly to individuals and school communities. These programs attracted criticism for various reasons because they bypassed state and territory education authorities, were considered as not addressing the total pedagogical needs of students or were too narrow in their application and benefit. The exception was the Investing in Our Schools Programme, which proved very popular with both government and non-government schools.[87]

Now these programs, either because they have ceased (such as the Investing in Our Schools Programme) or had their funds redirected (for example, the National Literacy and Numeracy Vouchers Program, Summer Schools for Teachers and Rewarding Schools for Improving Literacy and Numeracy Outcomes), have given way in this Budget to broadly based programs that have been developed in partnership with the states and territories. These new programs include the Digital Education Revolution, the National Action Plan for Literacy and Numeracy and Trade Training Centres in Schools.

The future of some existing programs remains unclear, notably the Australian Technical Colleges.[88] The government is considering how such colleges will be integrated into the education system once their current funding agreements expire at the end of 2009.[89] There is also some question about the future of Teaching Australia, established by the previous government to develop national professional standards.[90] The Budget contains an announcement that Teaching Australia will be reviewed and that, while the review is underway, its funding will be reduced and its activities constrained .[91]

In contrast to the other school education budget measures, the Education Tax Refund directly targets individuals. However it is not a true tax offset, whereby it would reduce the level of a person s tax payable, as its name implies. Rather, it is considered a refundable tax offset and will apply to eligible applicants regardless of their tax liability. That is, it will also be paid if the person has no tax liability. While the rebate has been welcomed, there may be some question about its timing and delivery. The rebate applies to expenses incurred from 1 July 2008 and its first claiming is linked to assessment of a 2008 09 income tax return. There are problems in providing assistance by way of tax rebates and this delay may be problematic for some eligible disadvantaged families.[92] For example, it is for this reason that the Child Care Tax Rebate will in future be paid quarterly rather than annually.

Higher Education

Dr Coral Dow
Social Policy Section

In Opposition, the Australian Labor Party claimed that no policy is more important than Australia s investment in human capital the education, skills and training of our workforce and our people .[93] This emphasis on investing in education as the basis for productivity growth, overcoming individual disadvantage and social inclusion continues in government.[94] The education-related budget measures implement promises to increase investment in education; however, the focus is on early childhood measures rather than higher education. This is not surprising considering that the government has announced a major Review of Australian Higher Education. This review is to:

... examine and report on the future direction of the higher education sector, its fitness for purpose in meeting the needs of the Australian community and economy, and the options for ongoing reform. It will inform the preparation of the Government s policy agenda for the decade ahead.[95]

The review will report by the end of 2008 and we might expect, as a result, more significant measures in the 2009 2010 Budget. Instead, this Budget fulfils the government s election promises in higher education to:

  • fund increased university places in early childhood teaching, education, nursing, dentistry and medicine
  • double the number of equity-based Commonwealth Learning Scholarships and introduce two new scholarship categories
  • reduce Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) fees for mathematics and science graduates and
  • replace domestic full-fee paying places with Commonwealth Supported Places.

The Budget also introduces a new Education Investment Fund (EIF) which will incorporate the existing Higher Education Endowment Fund (HEEF) and broaden disbursements to include vocational education and training providers.

Total higher education expenses for 2008 09 are $6 billion, a slight decrease from the estimated $6.3 billion for 2007 08. This decrease is due to the one-off Building Better Universities measure of $500 million announced in the Budget that will be allocated and accounted for in the 2007 08 financial year.[96]

Education Investment Fund

The Education Investment Fund (EIF) is the major initiative in the higher education budget. It will incorporate the $6 billion in the HEEF, a Coalition Government initiative from the
2007 08 Budget, and will receive a further $5 billion from the estimated budget surplus of $21.7 billion.[97]

Like the HEEF, the new EIF s purpose is to fund capital and research infrastructure. However, unlike the HEEF, the EIF will be able to make disbursements from the fund s capital as well as the earnings. The HEEF expected to make annual disbursements of between $300 million and $400 million from the fund s earnings. Stakeholders had reservations that such earnings would be sufficient to meet the shortfall in infrastructure funding which they estimated at $1.5 billion in 2005.[98] Unlike the HEEF there will be no cap on annual allocations from the EIF and disbursements will be allowed from the fund s capital.[99]

The HEEF was expected to allocate the first round of funding in 2008 09. However, the government has stated there will be no allocations from the EIF until 2009 10. The government has instead provided $500 million in the current financial year, under the budget measure Building Better Universities , to improve university infrastructure. Funding will be allocated to all universities on a formula basis and there is no commitment to further funding under this measure beyond 2007 08.[100]

Phasing out domestic undergraduate full-fee paying places

Since 1998, universities have been able to offer full-fee paying places to domestic students. Although the uptake of these places was initially small, it has increased since the introduction of income contingent FEE-HELP loans to full-fee students in 2005. Along with this increased uptake there has been an increase in the proportion of university income from domestic student fees. The ALP has opposed domestic full-fee places on the grounds that university access should be determined by merit rather than wealth, and has promised at every election since 1998 to phase them out.

Estimates of the required commensurate increase in Commonwealth funding to universities to compensate for the loss of full-fee paying students have varied widely from $200 million to $700 million. In opposition the ALP estimated that universities would forgo $325 million in revenue in the years 2009 to 2011 and promised $355 million to provide an additional 11 000 Commonwealth Supported Places (previously called HECS places) to replace the full-fee paying places.[101]

This Budget fulfils the promise to phase out full-fee paying places at public universities where such places will not be offered from 1 January 2009. However, the government, whilst still providing up to 11 000 new Commonwealth Supported Places, has revised the cost of this measure down to $249 million. Other than a promise to target areas of national priority and skills shortage such as teaching, mathematics, science and engineering, the government has not provided details of the places to be offered and how they will be allocated. It seems likely that those universities with a large number of full-fee paying students in law, commerce and medicine will not be compensated for the loss of these places and will need to find alternative revenue means, possibly through an increased intake of overseas fee paying students.

Scholarships

In 2003, the Coalition Government introduced an equity-based Commonwealth Scholarships Programme to assist students from low socio-economic backgrounds, especially those from regional and remote areas and Indigenous students, with costs associated with higher education. The program currently has two key components: Commonwealth Education Costs Scholarships (CECS) which assist students with general education costs and Commonwealth Accommodation Scholarships (CAS) which assist students from regional and remote areas who have to move to attend higher education and incur accommodation costs.

As an election commitment, under the Scholarships for a Competitive Future initiative, the government promised to double the number of Commonwealth Scholarships by 2012 from  44 000 to 88 000. The Budget provides $238.5 million to meet this commitment. Two new categories of Commonwealth Scholarship will be introduced from 2009: National Priority Scholarships and National Accommodation Scholarships. Twenty nine thousand National Priority Scholarships will target undergraduate students enrolling in priority disciplines such as nursing, teaching, medicine, dentistry, allied health, maths, science and engineering. Fifteen thousand National Accommodation Scholarships will be available for students relocating interstate to study a specialist course not available near their home.[102]

Conclusion

The Budget makes a modest move to increase the Commonwealth s proportional contribution to university revenue and ease the contribution of students. HECS and HELP fees, together with revenue from international students and domestic full-fee paying students, has seen the proportion of university revenue from student fees and charges rise to 38 per cent and Commonwealth payments as a proportion fall to 41 per cent in 2006.[103] In opposition the government was critical of the falling rate of public investment in Australian tertiary education, particularly when compared with other OECD countries.[104] The phasing-out of full-fee places, the funding of new Commonwealth Supported Places, the increased scholarships and the reduction in HELP fees for mathematics and science disciplines may assist in increasing the proportion of public investment in higher education.

Stakeholders have generally welcomed the Budget, but are disappointed that calls to increase the level of, and access to, student income support have not been addressed and that there was no commitment to increase Commonwealth funding per university place.[105] The $560 million to reduce HELP fees for mathematics and science students will not increase the funding per place to universities and goes against recommendations made in the Australian Academy of Science s 2006 review of mathematics and statistics. These recommendations argued that the relative funding of mathematical sciences departments in universities is inadequate and that the emphasis should be placed on increasing the Commonwealth grant per place rather than reducing the student contribution.[106] Stakeholders are looking to next year s budget for significant funding increases and initiatives that should follow the Review into Australian Higher Education.


Vocational Education and Training

Carol Kempner
Social Policy Section

The Rudd Government s 2008 09 Budget, like the Coalition Government s budgets, provides no real growth in state and territory recurrent funding that would enable them to expand their own vocational education and training (VET) systems. Nevertheless, consistent with its promise that existing places will continue to be funded under existing arrangements , it maintains the real value of its grants to the states and territories by providing $1.3 billion under the Skilling Australia s Workforce Act 2005.[107] The prime focus of Labor s election strategy to deal with skills shortages was to provide funding for new training places through a Commonwealth Government run program subsequently labelled the Productivity Places program not through additional direct grants to the states and territories for more training places in their Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes.

The Budget does, however, flag some likely changes to Commonwealth/State arrangements in the future, though details of their scope and whether additional funding will be involved is not provided. What we are told is that the Government s review of Specific Purpose Payments (SPPs) has determined that the VET SPP will remain as a stand-alone, and that the outcomes of the review will directly impact on the format of future arrangements for the sector .[108] It may be expected that any changes will be announced when the negotiations with the states and territories for the new Skilling Australia s Workforce Agreement are completed later this year.

Despite the steady-state funding for the states and territories under the Skilling Australia s Workforce Act 2005, the Budget opens up another potential source of funds for the states and territories and their TAFEs. The new $11 billion Education Investment Fund (EIF), which replaces the Coalition Government s $6 billion Higher Education Endowment Fund (HEEF), is intended to fund capital expenditure and renewal for vocational institutions as well as higher education institutions. It is not clear at this stage whether this funding will be limited to public VET institutions. Under current Commonwealth/State funding arrangements Commonwealth funds provided for capital purposes to publicly funded VET totalled $189.3 million in 2005.[109] Dependent on the arrangements that are put in place to access moneys from this fund and assuming the EIF adds to the current capital funding for public VET institutions, this could potentially be a significant development for the renewal of TAFE infrastructure.

The establishment of the EIF and the development of the Productivity Places program, continues the Commonwealth Government s preference for expanding its own programs over that of increasing its grants to the states, a direction clearly set by the previous Coalition Government.[110] There is, therefore, some expenditure growth in administered programs, primarily in the areas of Australian Apprenticeships and Workforce Skills Development (which includes the new places created under the Productivity Places program). The Budget provides funding of $232.6 million for an estimated 110 000 new training places ($1.9 billion over 5 years for 630 000 training places). The Budget also provides $3 million for Skills Australia in 2008 09 ($19.6 million over five years); a high-level board of seven experts, which is to provide independent advice and recommendations to government about Australia s skills needs.[111] It is on the basis of the advice received from Skills Australia that the Government allocates new training places directly to industry sectors. Funding for the places will be provided to Industry Skills Councils (ISCs) which are being strengthened and better resourced with an additional $83.2 million over five years.[112]

However, these expenditures are being partially offset by savings made from abolishing the Coalition Government s Australian Skills Vouchers program which aimed to provide enabling skills through accredited literacy/numeracy and basic education courses and Certificate II courses. The Coalition would have provided 60 000 vouchers per year if it had won government.[113] Therefore, on account of these and some other minor savings, growth in total VET outlays has, to a certain extent, been contained. Growth in VET expenditures alone will therefore not serve as a measure of whether this program is successfully addressing skills shortages. Labor has promoted the superiority of its new program over that of the program it replaced, arguing that the training will be demand driven, that is driven by industry sector needs, and that it will deliver more training places and the higher level qualifications that the economy requires.[114] Only time is likely to provide an assessment as to whether the new program meets its targets in terms of training places and skills delivered. The Government has fast-tracked 20 000 Productivity Places, but there are initial reports of a low take-up.[115] It is, however, likely that, as with the Work Skills Vouchers that it replaced, the take-up rate will increase over time.[116]

Another growing area of expenditure worth noting is in the area of VET FEE-HELP, the income contingent loan for full-fee Vocational Diplomas, Advanced Diplomas, Graduate Certificates and Graduate Diplomas. When introduced in the 2007 08 Budget, projected expenditure for 2008 09 was $3.4 million. The 2008 09 Budget estimate is for $9.6 million. One of the reasons for introducing these loans into the VET sector was to establish parity with students doing the same qualifications in the higher education sector who had access to such loans. Expectations that providers will compete to attract students who can access loans for full-fee courses have led to concerns that limiting loans to full-fee courses might reduce the availability of publicly funded VET courses. The concern is that the publicly funded TAFEs, which already offer some full-fee courses, would increasingly substitute publicly funded courses with full-fee courses.[117] It is unclear how any resulting increase in full-fee paying courses in publicly funded TAFEs would be reconciled with the government s announcement in this Budget of the phasing out of full fee paying domestic undergraduate places at public universities. It may act as a further catalyst for the introduction of income contingent loans for publicly funded courses, an option that Victoria is currently considering and that is also being considered during the discussions for the new Skilling Australia s Workforce Agreement.[118] However, while this idea has been gaining some prominence it is not uncontested. One critic has said:

Given the sustained concern voiced by political and business leaders about current workforce participation levels and skills shortages, it seems clear that Australia needs to establish financing and other policy settings which will increase participation in post-school vocational education to near universal levels. This requires measures which reduce, or at least contain, the real costs to individuals rather than simply making it (apparently) easier for them to bear a higher proportion of these costs.[119]


Public housing and rental assistance

Dr Matthew Thomas
Social Policy Section

The housing affordability crisis

The main vehicle through which the Australian Government, along with the state and territory governments, provides funding for public housing is the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement (CSHA). This joint agreement has helped to provide public and community housing to individuals and families in need since the late 1940s. The current CSHA commenced in 2003 and is effective until 30 June 2008.

In recent years it has been Australian Government policy to place a greater emphasis on Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) a payment to support eligible renters in the private rental market than on the CSHA. As a result, Australian Government outlays on the CSHA have been declining in nominal and real terms since 1991 92, while CRA funding has been increasing. For example, in 1994 95, government expenditure for the CSHA was four per cent higher than for CRA. Between 1994 95 and 2003 04, an increase of nine per cent in CRA expenditure combined with a 31 per cent decrease for CSHA resulted in CRA expenditure surpassing CSHA expenditure.[120] In 2006 07, the Howard Government provided $2.2 billion in CRA funding, as opposed to $970.6 million in CSHA funding.

In terms of public housing, this shift in funding emphasis has meant that public housing stock has decreased as state and territory public housing authorities have been squeezed for funds. Through the CSHA, in 1996 97 the stock of public housing was around 375 000 dwellings, which was then about five per cent of Australia s total housing stock. In subsequent years, however, there was little or no growth in public housing stock and, as at 30 June 2007, the total number of public rental dwellings managed by state and territory housing authorities had fallen to 339 771.[121]

A reduction in the amount of public housing stock has resulted in a reduced capacity on the part of governments to provide affordable housing to those most in need. Waiting lists for public housing are increasing. As at 30 June 2007, 176 321 households were on waiting lists for public rental housing. Of these households, 11 700 were classified as being in greatest need . This number represented seven per cent of all households on waiting lists.[122]

Increasingly, the public housing that is available is being used for emergency housing needs to assist those estimated 100 000 Australians who are homeless on any given night and those individuals and households that are at risk of becoming homeless. In effect, public housing is becoming welfare housing.

At the same time, rents in the private market are increasing apace. Rents increased by an average of 12 per cent during 2006 07 and a recent major report has predicted rent rises of 50 per cent in major cities over the next four years.[123] Because there has been an upward shift in the distribution of private rental stock towards higher-rent properties, higher-income households have displaced lower-income households from more affordable housing in the private rental market.[124] While these lower-income households may be paid Commonwealth Rent Assistance, this assistance is capped and, once the maximum rate (which is indexed twice each year to reflect changes in the consumer price index) is reached, any rent increases are borne by CRA recipients. It should also be noted that CRA is paid at a universal rate across the country. This renders it a blunt instrument , and one that cannot take into account variations in rental prices across jurisdictions.

In sum, without a significant increase in the number of affordable rental properties, the situation for renters, and especially for those renters on low incomes, is expected to worsen dramatically.

Budget measures

In this context, the government has announced a budget housing package of $2.2 billion over the next four years for measures to address housing supply pressures. These measures include:

  • the National Rental Affordability Scheme, which provides $622.6 million over four years for the provision of up to 50 000 affordable rental properties across Australia. The properties are to be made available to low to middle income earners at 20 per cent below market price. Under the scheme, the Australian Government will provide to investors an annual incentive of $6000 per property for up to ten years. This is to be augmented by a state or territory contribution (which may take the form of cash grants, concessions on stamp duty or the provision of discounted land) of $2000 per property over the same period.[125]
  • A Place to Call Home, a strategy which will provide $150 million over five years for the delivery of up to 600 homes across Australia for families and individuals who are homeless. The funding provided to the states and territories may be used either to construct or purchase new homes or to repair existing public housing stock. The Australian Government contribution is to be matched by the states and territories through the provision of funding or in-kind support including the provision of land.[126]

In order to coordinate the implementation of these measures and any other housing initiatives on a national basis, the government has provided $3.7 million over five years to establish an Office for Housing within the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.[127] The government has also provided $10.2 million over five years to establish a National Housing Supply Council. This council is to advise the government and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on long-term housing and land supply trends.[128]

The Budget has introduced changes to the framework in which future Commonwealth housing funding is to be provided to the states and territories. The number of specific purpose payments has been reduced and bundled into the new affordable housing specific purpose payment.[129] This payment is supported by the new national affordable housing agreement. Under this agreement, the states and territories will have greater flexibility to target resources with the objective of improving the supply and effectiveness of affordable housing.

Comment

It is generally agreed that supply-side responses to the current housing affordability crisis are essential. The reason being that focusing primarily on providing Commonwealth Rent Assistance to supplement private rental merely stimulates demand and increases housing rental costs. It has done nothing to increase the supply of affordable, public housing.

As noted above, in recent years Australian governments have, on the whole, been averse to expanding public housing. Such expansion is, in any case, a slow and expensive process. As a result, there is a need to strengthen financial incentives to encourage investors to provide affordable private rental properties. The National Rental Affordability Scheme aims to achieve this. It has, as a result, been widely acknowledged as a significant first step in addressing rental housing affordability.

Nevertheless, the scheme does not add to the publicly-owned housing supply and some commentators argue that without a sustainable public housing sector, the nation will fail to meet future demand for secure, low-cost housing.[130] While the A Place to Call Home strategy will provide for some increase to the overall public housing stock, this will not be by a significant amount.

Moreover, given that it is not only the size of public housing stock in Australia that has decreased, but also its quality primarily because the amount of rent that can be charged increasingly disadvantaged public housing tenants, does not meet the direct cost of provision (that is, the market value) the states and territories may, to a greater or lesser extent, be obliged to dedicate A Place to Call Home funds to stock refurbishment and replacement, rather than to increasing overall public housing stock.


Early childhood services

Marilyn Harrington
Social Policy Section

Introduction

The Minister s budget statement highlights the importance of the quality of the early childhood experience for not only the individual s future education and other life outcomes, but also the country s future economic prosperity.[131] The importance of these early years, particularly for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, is well-substantiated as the result of considerable research that continues to accumulate.[132] The Rudd Government is also concerned about the fragmented system of child care and early childhood education.

It is in this context that the government is now implementing a raft of election commitments designed to improve the overall quality and access of the early childhood sector. These commitments follow the 2007 resolution of the Council of Australian Governments to develop an intergovernmental agreement on a national approach to quality assurance and regulations for early childhood education and care. [133]

The government s concern with the early childhood years has resulted in the concentration of early childhood programs in the education portfolio under the newly created Office of Early Childhood Education and Child Care with its own parliamentary secretary (Maxine McKew). Most of the early childhood budget measures emanate from the education portfolio, but there are also allied measures in other portfolios. These include health portfolio budget measures, such as the health checks for four-year-old children and the development of guidelines on healthy eating and physical activity for use by the early childhood sector. There are also other measures which, while not specifically early childhood, have obvious application to the sector. The development of a National Child Protection Framework in the Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs portfolio, which is discussed in more detail in this brief, is one example.

The Budget s early childhood measures are only the beginning of the government s plans for the sector. As yet, the government has not determined whether early childhood will be included in the schools agreement or funded through a separate agreement.[134] It is also not clear from the expenses by function and sub-function table in Budget Paper No. 1 against which line item early childhood expenditure is accounted for.[135]

Provision of early childhood education and child care services are set to be transformed with the establishment of multifunctional Early Learning and Care Centres. This measure follows from the Prime Minister s proposal to combine maternal and child health and welfare, child care services and preschool at the one location, which was endorsed by the Australia 2020 Summit and the recent joint meeting of the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) and the Ministerial Council for Vocational and Technical Education (MCVTE).[136]

Early childhood education

Marilyn Harrington
Social Policy Section

The 2008 09 Budget represents the first part of a Rudd Government commitment to provide universal access by 2013 to quality early childhood education for all children in the year before formal schooling. [137] Specifically, this commitment includes access for all Indigenous four-year-olds living in remote communities, the development and application of national standards and an Early Years Learning Framework. It is also supported by the provision of additional early childhood education university places to improve workforce standards.

In 2006 07, 248 172 children attended state and territory government funded and/or provided preschool services in Australia.[138] For various reasons, not all Australian four-year-olds attend preschool or are accounted for in the available preschool attendance data. There is also considerable variation in the provision of these services, variability in program structure and inequities in access and participation.[139]

The problems which confront the sector, and which were highlighted by a 2004 inquiry into preschool education, are considerable.[140] These problems include access (for example, geographic location and transport), affordability, the supply of qualified early childhood teachers, state and territory differences in administration, funding and curricula and the provision of preschool services for children with special needs, particularly children with disabilities and Indigenous children. Children of working parents have also been described as trapped in long-day child care. The latter is not only symptomatic of the problem of program quality in childcare settings, but also the logistical difficulties for working parents of combining preschool with child care.[141] The challenge will be to make early childhood education, which is not compulsory, an attractive cost-effective option for all children and their families.

Child care

Dale Daniels
Social Policy Section

Child care fee assistance

The Budget includes a number of changes to the Child Care Benefit (CCB) and the Child Care Tax Rebate (CCTR).

The headline measure is the fulfilment of the election promise to increase the CCTR from 30 per cent to 50 per cent of out-of-pocket child care expenses for approved child care. The maximum payment per child will therefore increase from $4354 to $7500 (indexed) per annum. This is partially offset by the abolition of the minimum rate of CCB for approved care for higher income families.

The CCTR was introduced in 2005 to address child care affordability concerns and head off pressure for full tax deductibility for child care fees. It has often been criticised for favouring higher income families. However, the CCTR has escaped the new sudden death income tests that have been introduced for Family Tax Benefit Part B, the Baby Bonus and the Dependent Spouse Rebate. Its status as a refund of expenses incurred and its role in encouraging female workforce participation have saved it from being treated as undesirable middle class welfare.

The Budget also introduces quarterly payments for the CCTR. The timing of claims for the CCTR has been a long-running problem. Initially, it could only be claimed in the tax return for the year following the year in which the child care was used. So the delay between paying for care and receiving the CCTR could be as long as 18 months to two years. From the 2006 07 Budget, this was changed so that CCTR could be claimed from Centrelink at the end of the year in which the child care was used. However, both of these arrangements resulted in long delays between paying for child care and receiving CCTR. This delay can be a work disincentive for primary carers in low income families in particular. Both parties addressed this issue during the election campaign last year. The Coalition promised to pay the CCTR fortnightly while the ALP opted for quarterly payments.

These measures will increase the cost of assistance by $1.4 billion over four years. The CCTR changes are worth $1.6 billion and the CCB savings total $222.2 million.

There is also an increase in funding for the Jobs, Education and Training child care fee assistance (JETCCFA). An additional $23.9 million over four years will provide extra assistance with approved child care for sole parents studying for up to two years.

Child care workforce

Fees for TAFE students studying for Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas in children s services courses will have their fees removed from 2009 at the cost of $60.3 million over four years. This is part of a broader package to foster an increase in the skilled early childhood workforce. The child care workforce has for many years suffered from a skilled staff shortage. This is partly due to a shortage of appropriately trained people, but also due to the low pay rates on offer. Many child care workers are paid not much more than the minimum wage.

Child care provision and quality of care

A government election commitment to open 260 new child care centres has also been addressed with $114.5 million for 38 new child care centres in areas of child care shortage to be operational by 2010. Six of these will be early intervention centres for children with autism. The remaining centres are to be delivered as part of an agreement with the states and territories.

A further measure involves the development of improved national quality standards for child care.

National Child Protection Framework

Janet Phillips
Social Policy Section

Child protection and support services aimed at preventing child abuse and helping children and families affected by child abuse are essentially a state and territory responsibility. The Commonwealth currently plays a relatively small direct role in child abuse prevention through the funding of the National Child Protection Clearinghouse, the collection of data and a few specific programs. In recent years, there has been a trend towards a more systematic and national approach with respect to child abuse issues and, as a consequence, the Commonwealth has moved towards becoming more involved in the area of child abuse prevention and child abuse monitoring.

On 30 January 2008, the Coalition of Organisations Committed to the Safety and Wellbeing of Australia s Children (formed in November 2007) met with the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, to discuss the possible development of a National Child Protection Framework. At this meeting the Coalition was advised that a consultation process would commence between the government and relevant stakeholders. Recently, a discussion paper was circulated by the government to several NGOs and other stakeholders, inviting comments on a child protection framework.

In the 2008 09 Budget, the government confirmed it will commit to developing a National Child Protection Framework. The government has allocated funding of $2.6 million to establish the framework in consultation with all levels of government, child protection workers and community stakeholders.

It is likely that the new framework will focus on preventing child abuse through early intervention, better coordination of services and improved (nationally consistent) protection data reporting across jurisdictions at present all the states and territories differ in their data collection methodology, making it difficult to compare data across jurisdictions.[142]


Welfare

Peter Yeend
Social Policy Sectio
n

Better targeting and delivery of the Baby Bonus

The changes to the Baby Bonus announced in the Budget are intended to:

  • Limit the Baby Bonus to families with an adjusted taxable income[143] of $75 000 or less in the 6 months after the birth of a baby. This is the equivalent of an adjusted taxable income of $150 000 a year or less and
  • Pay the Baby Bonus in 13 fortnightly instalments, rather than as a lump sum.

These changes are to take effect from 1 January 2009.[144]

The budget papers indicate that the Baby Bonus will be increased from $4258 to $5000 from 1 July 2008. This change was provided for by the previous government in the amending act that introduced the original one-off $3000 Baby Bonus payment from 1 July 2004.[145] That Act provided for the Baby Bonus amount to be $3000 from 1 July 2004, an increase to $4000 from 1 July 2006 and a further increase to $5000 from 1 July 2008. The Act also provided for twice-yearly indexation of the Baby Bonus to movements in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Consequently, the Baby Bonus is currently $4258.

Costs and savings

Income testing of the Baby Bonus is estimated to cost $22.6 million in additional administrative expenses and will lead to savings of $377.2 million in reduced payments. This will realise net savings of $354.5 million over the next four years.[146]

How many families will be affected?

In 2006 07, the Baby Bonus was paid in respect of 291 876 children, including 315 adopted children.[147] While the budget papers do not directly indicate how many families are expected no longer to be eligible for the Baby Bonus from 1 January 2009, they give an estimate of the numbers of children and families to be paid the Baby Bonus in 2008 09. This is 285 000 children from 281 000 families. This figure includes 330 adopted children.[148] Jenny Macklin, the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, has indicated that some 16 000 high income parents will no longer be able to access the Baby Bonus.[149]

The proposed Baby Bonus income test compared

Since its introduction from 1 July 2004, the Baby Bonus has not been subject to any means test. This contrasts with the Maternity Allowance that it replaced from 1 July 2004, which required the claimant to otherwise qualify for Family Tax Benefit Part A (FTB-A), which is income tested. In 2008, a family with one child aged from birth to 17 years can have an annual adjusted taxable income of up to $97 845 and still receive some FTB-A. So, compared to FTB-A, the proposed income test of $150 000 for the Baby Bonus is generous.

Use of the adjusted taxable income test for Baby Bonus

The Baby Bonus budget initiative proposes to use adjusted taxable income as a means test. This makes administrative sense, as adjusted taxable income is also used as the means test for the Family Tax Benefit Part A and Part B and the Child Care Benefit. It is also the same test that is used in other government assistance access matters, such as for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and is the income test applied under the Child Support Scheme arrangements.

However, there are a number of other legitimate ways by which taxable income can be reduced, for example, by way of company or trust arrangements. So the use of adjusted taxable income might not in some cases provide for a proper test of a person s or family s means and need for support. This, in part, is reflected in the proposed adjustments to the measurement of income for government support purposes, also announced in this Budget and discussed in a later section of this brief. These proposed changes feature in respect of salary sacrifices to superannuation, net losses from investment and reportable fringe benefits. [150]

Better targeting and delivery of Family Tax Benefit

The proposed change to the Family Tax Benefit Part B (FTB-B) income testing arrangements announced in the Budget limits access to FTB-B to families where the primary income earner has annual adjusted taxable income[151] of $150 000 or less.[152]

FTB-B Origins and current arrangements

FTB-B was introduced, along with the two other main Commonwealth family income supplement payments (Family Tax Benefit Part A and Child Care Benefit), with the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the A New Tax System (ANTS) arrangements that commenced from July 2000.[153]

FTB-B replaced a number of payments and income tax rebates for sole parents and single income couple families. The payments and assistance replaced were Guardian Allowance, Basic Parenting Payment, Family Tax Payment Part B, Family Tax Assistance Part B, Sole Parent Rebate and Dependent Spouse Rebate (with Children).

As with the payments and tax measures it replaced, the current FTB-B tests only one income in a family the income of the lowest income earner. Where a claimant is a sole parent, there is an automatic entitlement to the full rate of the FTB-B, regardless of income. For partnered families, while there is no eligibility limit on the income of the primary earner, the amount payable under the FTB-B income test is based on the income of the lower earner. The rate payable is dependent on the actual income of the lower earner. On an income of up to $4380 the full rate is paid. Payments are reduced by 20 cents for each dollar of income above that amount. In certain circumstances, the lower earner can earn up to $22 302 and still be eligible for some FTB-B. This resembles the old Dependant Spouse Rebate, which was available to a person with a partner with low income, regardless of the amount of that person s own taxable income.

Are millionaire families receiving FTB-B?

Answers to questions on notice in Senate Budget Estimates have demonstrated that under the current FTB-B income test, some families with substantially high incomes can access the FTB-B. As the table below shows, access to FTB-B for partnered families with high incomes, where this income is received by one of the partners, has been in place since the FTB-B was introduced on 1 July 2000.


Adjusted Taxable income of customers entitled to Family Tax Benefit Part B 2004 05

Adjusted Taxable income of customers entitled to Family Tax Benefit Part B 2004–05

Source: Senate Supplementary Estimates, 2006 07. [154]

The proposed FTB-B income test change

The proposed changes to the FTB-B income test are intended to limit eligibility to families where the main income earner has income of not more than $150 000.

Therefore, in the case of sole parents, where they have income of more than $150 000 there will be no access to FTB-B. Where sole parents have incomes of $150 000 or less they will qualify for the full payment.

In the case of partnered families, where the main income earner has income of more than $150 000, there will be no access to FTB-B. Where the main income earner receives $150 000 or less, the rate of the payment will still be calculated on the basis of the earnings of the lower earner. Therefore, the limits that have applied to the income of the lower earner in a two parent family under the income test that was put in place by the Coalition Government in July 2000, will continue to apply.

How many families will be affected?

The government has indicated that the revised income testing for FTB-B will affect around 40 000 high income families.[155]

Costs and savings

Extra funding is to be provided to Centrelink to undertake the additional income testing. This is $0.5 million in 2007 08 and it is anticipated there will be savings thereafter from Centrelink of $0.1 million in 2008 09, $1.4 million in 2009 10, $1.7 million in 2010 11 and $2.1 million in 2011 12 as fewer families receive FTB-B.[156] The proposal is anticipated to realise net savings of $543.8 million over 5 years.[157]

Comment

The proposed $150 000 income limit for the main income earner for FTB-B access is unusual in comparison to other income tests in the welfare system. This is because there is a sudden death cut-off . Those primary earners with an income up to $150 000 qualify; those with an income of over $150 000 do not qualify.

While the changes will, to a certain extent, means test the payment, the mechanism is crude. Unlike the income test for the FTB-A where the income of both parents in dual parent families is counted, the test for FTB-B will still not be based on total family income.

Therefore, while the main income earner may only earn up to the new limit of $150 000 for a family to qualify, the rate at which the payment is made in a dual parent family will still be calculated on the earnings of lower earner. The upper limits to these earnings will continue to apply. This will mean that if the lower earner earns more than $22 302, the family will not receive any FTB-B, regardless of whether the main earner, earns $40 000 or $150 000.

The following examples demonstrate the limitations of this form of means testing. A sole parent will attract the full benefit if they earn up to $150 000. Dual parent families can attract some benefit even where their combined income is $172 300, if for example the main income earner were to earn $150 000 and the lower earner less than $22 302. However, in the case of a dual parent family where one earns $80 000 and the other $50 000, the family would not receive a FTB-B payment, even though the parents combined income is less than $150 000.

It is likely that some allowance for the secondary income has been maintained so as not to create a disincentive for secondary income earners to participate in employment. However, the changes do nothing to address the criticisms that were made of the Coalition Government s Family Tax Benefit (FTB) regime, that in the case of two parent families, it favoured those with children and traditional gender-based divisions of labour. For example families where the income contribution ratio was 80:20 received a higher benefit that those families where the income contribution was 50 per cent each. It has therefore been argued that providing the maximum rate to those families where the primary earner contributes a much larger percentage of the income than the secondary earner formalises the notion of primary and secondary earner [and] within its structure underwrites weak labour force attachment by women with children and effectively entrenches the status of mothers as secondary earners and primary carers .[158]

Means-testing of government support expanded definitions of income

Background

The government announced changes in the Budget to the income definitions it uses to measure access to some assistance programs. These changes refer to the use of taxable income to arrive at a level of income. The changes will modify the taxable income of claimants to add back amounts to their net taxable income. The amounts to be added back are amounts salary sacrificed into superannuation, net losses from investments and reportable fringe benefits.[159] This initiative has parallels with the proposed Budget amendments to the income test for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card in which the income test is to be modified to add back in gross amounts received from a taxed superannuation source and also amounts salary sacrificed into superannuation.[160]

Use of adjusted taxable income

The government uses adjusted taxable income[161] in several forums to determine access to assistance and also to determine a level of income for a claimant. The test is used for the three main family assistance payments Family Tax Benefits Part A and Part B and the Child Care Benefit. The test is also used for the measurement of payer and payee parents incomes for the Child Support Scheme maintenance formula calculations. The income assessments for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, which can be provided to retired aged persons not on a government income support payment, with annual incomes below $50 000 (single) or $80 000 (partnered combined), also uses the adjusted taxable income test (it is proposed that this test will also be modified).[162]

The reason for adjusting taxable incomes of claimants by adding back negatively geared property losses, foreign income and employer provided fringe benefits, is because allowable tax deductions may not result in an appropriate indicator or real income or means. The changes proposed in the Budget to expand/modify the adjustments indicate that there is recognition that the use of this test needs further refinement.

There are advantages both to government and to claimants in using adjusted taxable income as an income measure. Firstly, the most recent tax assessment can be used and this removes the need for a separate income measurement and assessment. This results in a reduced cost to government. There are also savings for claimants from not having to provide documents and evidence necessary for a separate income test. The only readily available alternative to using adjusted taxable income is to use the income test applied for pension and allowance income support payments under the Social Security Act 1991 (SSA). This test is tighter and does not permit as many of the tax deductions allowed under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 and the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 to reduce income, thereby achieving better targeting. However, the use of the SSA to measure and test income is administratively more expensive, as it often requires an extra and separate measurement and assessment of income.

Certain salary sacrificed contributions to superannuation

This budget proposal involves adding back in the amounts salary sacrificed into superannuation which are currently taken out of gross salary income before tax liability is assessed.

Estimated savings

The measure is estimated to save $6.7 million in 2008 09, $156.8 million in 2009 2010, $135.8 million in 2010 2011 and $145.5 million in 2011 2012. This is a total of $430.2 million over four years.[163] Close to two thirds of these substantial savings will be realised in the Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs portfolio. These savings therefore would mainly refer to the adjusted taxable income tests that are applied to Family Tax Benefit Part A and Part B and to the Child Care Benefit, being the nominally lower income targeted family assistance programs. There would also be further but less significant savings to this portfolio associated with its application to the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

Net losses from investments

This budget proposal is intended to expand the adjustments made to calculations of adjusted taxable income to include losses from investments, and where appropriate, to include negatively geared property losses. In many cases, negatively geared property losses are already included in the calculation of adjusted taxable income in the welfare payments area, but not so much in the taxation area.

Estimated savings

The estimated savings to be achieved over four years for this proposal is $38 million. There is an administrative cost to government in the taxation portfolio area of $10.8 million over four years associated with the extra administrative task of counting these sorts of losses and adding them back on to taxable income amounts.[164]

Reportable fringe benefits

This proposal is to add back in reportable fringe benefits in the calculation of taxable income when calculating access to the dependency tax offset, the seniors Australian tax offset and the pensioner tax offset.[165] Currently, the counting of taxable income to determine access to these tax offsets does not adjust for reportable fringe benefits. The adjusted taxable income test applied for welfare payment purposes does already adjust for employer provided fringe benefits.

Estimated savings

The savings to government revenue are estimated to be $18.5 million over four years in the taxation area.[166]

Comment

The proposals to make adjustments for the calculations of taxable income and adjusted taxable income for both welfare and tax purposes raise the issue of the appropriateness of using taxable income as a base to determine access to government assistance. As there are many legitimate ways taxable income can be reduced or offset, it is problematic to use it as a true reflection of the need for support in some cases. In addition, taxable income, or even adjusted taxable income, arbitrarily disadvantages those in employee pay-as-you-go tax arrangements, as their opportunities to reduce their taxable income is less than others in self-employed, company, or family trust tax arrangements.


Disability and caring support

Disability support

Janet Phillips
Social Policy Section

With negotiations currently in progress for a new Commonwealth State Territory Disability Agreement (CSTDA), there is very little that this Budget could commit to disability funding other than redirecting and redistributing existing funds to the CSTDA.

The CSTDA provides the national framework for the delivery, funding and development of specialist disability services for people with disabilities. The Commonwealth s main areas of responsibility in this area include most disability related payments and allowances and the provision of employment services for people with disabilities along with some generic services and support (such as rehabilitation and various health programs). The states and territories are responsible for most other areas of support including accommodation, community access services and respite as well as disability related support in schools. Some areas are shared between the Commonwealth and the states such as health funding and the Home and Community Care Program (HACC).

Until a new agreement is negotiated, most of the ongoing issues for the disability sector, such as unmet need for disability accommodation, must wait. However, recent government announcements, for example, that there will be a new National Disability and Mental Health Employment Strategy, a National Disability Strategy and a Disability Investment Inquiry, have raised hopes that the new CSTDA will include significant additional funding to honour government commitments and to address stakeholder concerns of unmet need.[167]

Disability related initiatives in this Budget include:

  • Confirmation that the government will honour an election commitment to develop a National Disability Strategy, although there was no additional funding allocated in the Budget. This commitment will be met within the existing resources of the Department $7.7 million over four years from 1 July 2009.[168]
  • A range of measures to support carers, including $100 million for supported accommodation for people with a disability with older carers. This will allow some ageing carers to plan for alternative accommodation arrangements for their children.[169] See the carer section of this review for details on the carer bonus and carer payments.
  • $25.7 million over four years for disability employment support through the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT) program. Access to BSWAT, which was due to expire in June 2008, is provided by the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service (CRS), allowing businesses to calculate wages for supported employees. Further disability employment support measures will emerge once the National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy is finalised.[170]
  • On 3 October 2007, the Coalition Government announced details of its Helping children with autism package, delivering $190.7 million in funding over five years. In this Budget, the government has announced funding for six autism-specific child care centres as part of this package.[171]


Carers

Dale Daniels
Social Policy Section

Carer Payment eligibility for those caring for children with disabilities

In March 2007, the Carer Payment (child) Review Taskforce headed by Anthony Blunn was set up by the Howard Government to examine how effective carer payment was as a safety net for carers of children with a profound disability or severe medical condition.[172] The taskforce reported on 8 February to the Rudd Government and this budget measure is the Government s response.

The taskforce took the view that:

... the objective of Carer Payment (child) is to enable carers to provide the care and attention required by children diagnosed with severe disability or medical conditions. For a carer to qualify for Carer Payment (child), the care provided must be significantly more than the care required by a child of comparable age who does not have severe disability. The need for care must be continuous and the provision of care must be constant. The caring load must be such that carers are unable to support themselves through substantial workforce participation.[173]

The taskforce concluded that:

... the payment is not an effective safety net in capturing all carers of children with severe disability or medical conditions who require access to income support.[174]

This budget measure provides for a new assessment process based on the care required by the child rather than the specifics of the child s condition or behaviour.[175] This provides a considerable relaxation of the eligibility criteria that were previously quite restrictive. The new criteria will see greatly expanded access to Carer Payment for those caring for children. The extent of this expansion can be gauged from the expected increase in the numbers eligible. In June 2007, there were 3570 Carer Payment (child) recipients. The Budget provides for funding for this payment to continue beyond the original cut off date of 30 June 2008.[176]

Bonus payments for carers

The Budget contains a one-off lump sum bonus payment to carers who are already in receipt of the Carer Payment and the Carer Allowance. The bonus is in recognition of their contribution to caring for people with disabilities. Carer Payment recipients will receive $1000 and recipients of Carer Allowance will receive $600 for each eligible person in their care. Those in receipt of both payments on 13 May 2008 will receive both lump sum payments.

One-off cash payments for carers have become a regular feature of recent budgets. Starting in 2004 05 they have been provided each year. Recent controversy over the suggestion that these bonuses were likely to be scrapped showed the sensitivities around the issue of assistance for carers and the political capital to be gained by supporting them.[177] However, this Budget makes no move towards providing legislative arrangements that would provide for them on an ongoing basis. Carers Australia argues that assistance for carers in Australia is inadequate. It was stunned that the government had not acted to make the bonus payments permanent, with CEO Joan Hughes concluding in her press release This government likes to talk about supporting working families. Carers do work they just aren t paid for it .[178]

While not a bonus payment, a precedent for building lump sum payments into the social security system was established with the Child Disability Assistance payment. The Howard Government introduced the Child Disability Assistance payment, a lump sum payment, to provide additional support for carers of children with a disability. It provides an annual $1000 lump sum for people receiving Carer Allowance for children each July. The Rudd Government has not yet followed this precedent with the carer bonus payments announced in this Budget.

On 14 May 2008, Jenny Macklin, the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, asked the House Standing Committee on Family, Community, Housing and Youth to inquire into and report on better support for carers.[179] This inquiry may produce further reforms for carers in the future.


Employment services

Dr Matthew Thomas and Peter Yeend
Social Policy Section

Introduction

The Job Network has provided employment placement assistance to unemployed job seekers in receipt of Australian Government income support payments for over a decade. When the Job Network was introduced by the Coalition Government in 1998, unemployment was around double its current rate, and this was reflected in the system s original design.

Australia has enjoyed strong economic growth for the past 17 years and unemployment is at its lowest level in around 30 years. In this context, job seekers with minimal barriers to employment tend to find work readily, with little or no assistance from Australia s main employment service provider, the Job Network. An increasing proportion of the Job Network s clients are now long-term unemployed and people with significant barriers to employment; that is, those people who have been left behind . At the same time, the nation is experiencing widespread skilled workforce shortages. What is now required is an employment services system that is able to assist job seekers with significant labour market disadvantage to gain the skills required by themselves, employers and the nation as a whole.

In recognition of the Job Network s no longer being appropriate for current requirements, the government has developed a proposed major reconfiguration of this system. A broad outline of the proposed changes is presented in a fact sheet that was included in the 2008 09 budget press releases for the Education, Employment and Workplace Relations portfolio.[180] Subsequently, the government has released a discussion paper that solicits views on the future framework for employment services in Australia and how best to implement it.[181] Australia-wide consultation sessions on the proposed new model of employment assistance commenced on 19 May 2008. Following consultation on the proposed new model and its implementation, the government envisages that the new system will commence on 1 July 2009.

The proposed new model of employment assistance aims to better cater to the needs of disadvantaged job seekers and the skills needs of employers. At the same time, it seeks to address a number of limitations identified in the Job Network. These limitations include the system s fragmented and complex nature, inflexibility where it comes to dealing with the needs of different job seekers, failure to target resources at the most disadvantaged job seekers, lack of emphasis on skills development and training, ineffective and counter-productive compliance regime and excessive administration, which is hampering the flexibility and scope for innovation required by Job Network providers.[182]

The main features of the proposed new model are:

  • a revised contact arrangement that allocates job seekers to one of four different assistance streams, based on their assessed level of disadvantage
  • a new Employment Pathway Fund that will, unlike its predecessor Job Seeker Account, be available to provide assistance to the most disadvantaged of job seekers
  • the opening of employment assistance services to people currently on the Participation Support Program waiting list, who did not previously have access to mainstream employment assistance services
  • 238 000 training places that focus on the development of skills in areas of workforce shortage
  • a $41 million Innovation Fund to enable employment services providers to develop projects in partnership with training and community organisations and the private sector for the most significantly disadvantaged job seekers and
  • the establishment of an external reference group that will assist in the development of a new performance management system appropriate to the changed nature of the system.

The following comments identify some perceived merits of the proposed new model and flag various issues and points of concern.

Funding

The government proposes to spend $3.7 billion over three years from 1 July 2009 on revised employment assistance services.[183] This funding may not, in fact, amount to an increase in spending by the government on employment services for unemployed job seekers over the amount that would otherwise have been spent on the Job Network arrangements. Forward estimates for the Job Network in the 2007 08 Budget were $1.16 billion in 2006 07 and $1.21 billion in 2007 08.[184]

It is also not clear precisely to whom employment assistance services are to be provided: are they to be made available to all unemployed people or only to those who are in receipt of income support?

Jobseeker streaming and the Job Seeker Classification Instrument

Unemployed jobseekers are to be streamed into four different pathways based on their assessed level of disadvantage. Stream one is to be reserved for those jobseekers who are the most job ready and thus in a position to be assisted with job search skills, the preparation of a resume, skills assessment and training. The other three streams are to be employed for those jobseekers whose pathway to employment will be protracted as a result of their need for assistance in overcoming personal and vocational barriers before moving into employment.

The streaming decisions are to be made using the current, but revised, Job Seeker Classification Instrument (JSCI) and, where necessary, a Job Capacity Assessment (JCA). The JSCI is currently used for streaming new entrants into the Job Network. It is mainly used to identify the most disadvantaged of new job seekers, who are to be provided with Intensive Assistance immediately. Other job seekers usually have to spend three or six months on income support before gaining access to Intensive Assistance.

The JSCI is essentially a computer-driven assessment tool, which compiles a picture of the job seeker based on their responses to questions about their work and education history and attainments. The JSCI has been criticised in the past for its being too blunt an instrument for effective screening. A review of the JSCI s effectiveness, appropriateness and efficiency is currently being undertaken.[185] A review of JCA processes is also underway.[186]

Accurate streaming will be vital if the new model is to prove successful. If jobseekers are directed to an inappropriate stream, then this could be wasteful not only in terms of time and potential job opportunities lost, but also in terms of training and other assistance not provided. While there is a certain amount of flexibility where it comes to movement between streams (unlike the rigid continuum of present arrangements), this movement is still determined by individual need as measured by the JSCI or, where appropriate, JCA.[187] Thus, much will depend on the quality of these assessment tools.

Compliance

Under the proposed new model, the jobseeker compliance requirements are largely the same as the requirements that were instituted under the Welfare to Work arrangements from 1 July 2006. Non-payment periods will apply for the number of days of non-compliance; and the sanction of an eight-week non-payment period applies in the case of a third instance of job seeker non-compliance. There is a slight watering down of this sanction under the proposed new arrangements; it is to be applied on a discretionary basis by employment service providers in instances of wilful non-compliance. There will also be the option for jobseekers to not have an eight week non-payment period applied where they are undertaking intensive activities. Needless to say, all job seekers are likely to take this option.

Employment Pathway Plans

Under the proposed new model, all job seekers are required to work with their employment services provider on the development of an Employment Pathway Plan (EPP). This plan is similar to the Preparing for Work Agreement that is used under current Job Network arrangements. Employment service providers will need to be sufficiently resourced for the preparation of these plans in order for them to prove effective in identifying and meeting the needs of job seekers.

Training places

An additional 238 000 training places are to be made available under the proposed new model, at a cost of over $880 million over five years. This is a welcome initiative, as it is generally acknowledged that the Job Network, as it stands, fails to provide sufficient support for job seeker training. That the additional training places are to focus on areas of skills shortage is also a positive innovation, as this both increases the likelihood that quality, sustainable employment outcomes will be secured for job seekers and ensures that tax payers dollars are well spent. However, it should be noted that if the training places are to succeed in realising these objectives they will not only need to address the needs of employers, but also need to be clearly linked with jobs. Support may also need to be provided for disadvantaged job seekers who are placed in these positions.

Performance management

The proposed establishment by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) of an external reference group to assist in the development of a robust performance management system for the new model of employment assistance is essential, especially given the changed emphasis of the new model. It is to be hoped that external involvement in assessment of the new model s performance will be extended in the future through making publicly available, in a timely fashion, the maximum amount of performance data. At present, external assessments of the Job Network are seriously limited, partly as a result of the commercial-in-confidence provisions that apply to Job Network provider operations.

Employment Pathway fund

The government s decision to replace the Job Seeker Account (JSA) with a more flexible and accessible Employment Pathway fund is a welcome revision. That the fund will be available for use for the most disadvantaged of job seekers including those on the Personal Support Program (PSP) waiting list who were previously quarantined from mainstream services is a particularly constructive change. The revised fund has the potential to encourage employment service providers to invest in disadvantaged job seekers in a way that has not been encouraged under existing Job Network arrangements.

Innovation fund

The Innovation Fund is a similarly positive change. This fund should enable employment service providers the scope to develop in cooperation with other services, both public and private, original enterprises that provide support and training for significantly disadvantaged job seekers. The Brotherhood of St Laurence has recently had some success with such projects.[188] While the fund itself is certainly a step in the right direction, it should be noted that $41 million over three years is not a significant amount of funding. The same could be said of the proposed employment brokerage program which seeks to develop job seekers skills in the areas of greatest workforce need and the $6 million allocated for this plan.

Administration and red tape

Generally speaking, the proposed model s focus on reducing red tape and the administrative demands placed on employment service providers, freeing them up to focus on meeting the needs of job seekers and employers, will be welcomed. The proposal to combine the contracts for major employment programs should save a significant amount of time and resources. While it remains to be seen whether or not red tape will reappear in other areas under the new model s arrangements, it should be noted that it is better that where additional requirements are placed upon employment service providers this should be in areas that really count, such as the assessment of job seekers for streaming purposes.

Summary

On the face of it, and in the absence of further detail, the proposed new model of employment assistance represents a significant improvement over current arrangements and is necessary to meet the changed needs. The new model should provide substantially more flexibility and options for employment service providers. It should also encourage the investment of significantly more time and resources in disadvantaged job seekers. Much of the success or otherwise of Australia s future employment services will depend on the skills of providers, their knowledge of local employment markets and whether the proposed new measures are sufficiently well-resourced.


Indigenous affairs

John Gardiner- Garden
Social Policy Section

There is a new rhetoric in the area of Indigenous affairs. Key words are New Partnership and Closing the Gap . These terms were used in the communiqu from the Council of Australian Government s meeting on 20 December 2007, where there was a commitment to:

  • clarifying the roles and responsibilities of different levels of governments
  • closing the life expectancy gap within a generation
  • halving the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five within a decade, and
  • halving the gap in reading, writing and numeracy achievements within a decade.[189]

The words were used again in Prime Minister Rudd s National Apology speech on 13 February 2008:

Our challenge for the future is to embrace a new partnership between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The core of this partnership for the future is closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians on life expectancy, educational achievement and employment opportunities.[190]

They were used again in the Closing the Gaps, Indigenous Health Equality Summit, Statement of Intent which the Commwealth signed on 20 March 2008, and they have been used throughout the government s Indigenous affairs related 2008 Budget statements and media releases.[191]

The language used is different from that of the previous government and the present government has broken with the previous government on such matters as an apology, narrowing of the Northern Territory permit system and ending all remote Northern Territory Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP). Despite this, the programs and level of funding supported in the recent budget are not very different from those of the previous government. Indeed, for each of the last few years each of the Budget Portfolio Statements (PBS) has included, unless not relevant, Australian Government Indigenous Expenditure (AGIE). The total of the 2007 Budget PBS AGIE figures for 2007 08 (that is, before the Northern Territory Intervention) was $3.2 billion. The total of the 2008 Budget PBS AGIE figures for 2007 08 (that is, post both the Howard Government s Northern Territory Intervention commitments and the Rudd Government s post-election but pre-budget commitments) is $3.85 billion. The total of the 2008 Budget PBS AGIE figures for 2008 09 is $3.86 billion.

It is also the case that this Budget continues the previous government s focus on improving the situation in the Northern Territory a focus some argue is inappropriate when the needs in Aboriginal Australia are so widespread. The degree to which the present Budget s commitments might be judged as appropriate to a new partnership and closing the gap may be judged in the context of the nationwide shortfall in the area of Indigenous housing having been estimated as $3.5 billion and in health as between $350 and $500 million per annum.[192]

The government has totalled its new and redirected funding following the 2007 election as $580 million and indigenous relevant 2008 09 Budget Measures as $425.3 million giving a total of $1.2 billion with the period covered by individual commitments varying from one to five years. A full break down with forward estimates can be found in the Whole of Government section of Budget Paper No.2, and in the 2008 2009 Indigenous Budget at a Glance.[193] The commitments included the following: [194]

With respect the Northern Territory (NT) a total of $666.1 million, consisting of:

        $168 million for employment and pre-employment services including $75.4 million over two years to enhance employment services such as those offered to people previously on Remote Area Exemptions and those offered by Community Employment Brokers and $5.8 million to enhance Centrelink Agent services

With respect to Australia as a whole a total of $554 million, consisting of:

  • $160 million over five years for the Land and Sea Country Indigenous Partnership includes $90 million to train and employ 300 additional Indigenous rangers, $50 million to support the management of the Indigenous Protected Areas and $10 million to support indigenous land manager s engagement with emissions trading markets
  • $56 million over four years for an expansion of literacy and numeracy programs
  • $122.7 million to improve specific health services including $90.3 million over five years for child and maternal health services[198]
  • $49.3 million to expand Indigenous drug and alcohol serviced including $9.5 for youth alcohol diversionary activities
  • $33.5 million to address drivers of chronic disease and build a stronger Indigenous health workforce including $19 million over three years to a National Indigenous Health Workforce Training Plan to encourage and support more Indigenous people taking up careers as health professionals
  • $10 million over three years for travelling indigenous mother s accommodation
  • $15.7 million for Bringing them Home counsellors and Link Up service
  • $16.6 million over four years for additional early childhood and parenting services. These will be offered in child care centres and play group settings and involve assisting families in meeting the health, education and nurturing needs of young children
  • $41.6 million for Cape York Welfare Reform Trial
  • $29 million for additional infrastructure in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands and the Kimberley
  • $7.6 million for the National Arts and Craft Industry Support Programme, which directs funding to Indigenous Arts Centres and advocacy organisations
  • $5.5 million for additional funding for native title claims
  • $6.1 million to continue the Australian Public Services Indigenous Employment Strategy.

The new government appears to not have had enough time to promise more than discussions with stakeholders on such matters as how to form a new national indigenous representative body, how to accommodate the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous People, how to frame a new Indigenous Economic Development Strategy, how to reform the CDEP and where to go later this year (after the promised 12 month review) with the Northern Territory Emergency Intervention.


Immigration

The Immigration Program

Adrienne Millbank
Social Policy Section

The immigration program is an ongoing program, and it is normally announced prior to the Budget. For the first time, the announcement of the annual program numbers has occurred within the context of the release of the Budget. The clearly stated objective of the 2008 09 permanent immigration program is to help ease Australia s skills shortage and help fight inflation .[199] Reflecting this priority concern of the Rudd Government, the immigration (non-humanitarian) program is the largest ever, with the largest skilled component. The planning level is for 190 300 places 133 500 skilled (independent and employer-sponsored) and 56 500 family reunion. The humanitarian program has been set at 13 500 places. The 2007 08 program was set at up to 158 800 places 108 500 skilled and 50 000 family. The 2007 08 humanitarian program was set at 13 000 places.

For the first time the impact of the migration program on the Budget direct costs and benefits is being reported.[200] Because the program is currently heavily balanced in favour of skilled migration it has a positive impact: taxes paid by migrants outweigh the costs of settlement services, welfare, health care and education. The Minister s budget press release advises that the increase of 31 000 skilled, 6500 family and 500 refugee places in 2008 09 will, over four 4 years, cost an additional $1.4 billion and bring in revenues of $2.9 billion, resulting in a net benefit to the Commonwealth of $1.9 billion, and extra GST payments to the states and territories of $1 billion.[201]

These estimates appear to be based on as yet unpublished research conducted by the consultancy firm Access Economics. Access Economics was commissioned by the Howard Government to examine the impact of the migration program on the Federal Budget, following the government s success after 1996 in reorienting the program towards skills, and thus its economic and labour market objectives.[202] The 1995 96 migration (non-humanitarian) program outcome comprised 24 100 skilled stream migrants compared with 56 700 family stream migrants. The 1995 96 humanitarian program comprised 16 250 refugee, humanitarian and special assistance category migrants.

Issues:

  • Rising levels of temporary migrant workers are foreseen. There are currently around 500 000 temporary entrants with work rights in Australia (mainly 457 visa holders, students and working holiday-makers).
  • House prices are a key driver of inflation. Large increases in migrant numbers will add to housing demand pressures.
  • While there are sufficient skilled applicants in the pipeline for 2008 09, it is not clear whether a permanent skilled migration target in the order of 133 500 places will be achievable in future years. There is increasing international competition for skilled migrants.
  • A recent study has found only a minority of recently arrived skilled migrants from non-English speaking countries, especially from the rapidly growing overseas student component, are finding employment consistent with their professional qualifications, because of their inadequate English skills.[203]
  • The Minister has indicated that low-skilled and unskilled entry is being considered for future years.[204] Large-scale intakes of non-English speaking, low-skilled migrants poses risks for social cohesion, especially should levels of unemployment rise.

Other immigration measures in the Budget include giving effect to the ALP s election commitments to extend the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) and to end the Coalition Government s Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) regime.

Adult Migrant English Program

Harriet Spinks
Social Policy Section

The Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) provides basic English language tuition to eligible adult migrants and humanitarian entrants to assist them to settle in Australia. The 2008 09 Budget commits $49.2 million for the extension and enhancement of the AMEP.[205] This appears intended to address the concern expressed by the Australian Labor Party in 2007 that many new arrivals were completing the course without achieving an adequate level of English and that the program was not meeting clients needs.[206]

Funding for the AMEP has increased steadily in recent years, and concerns that it is under funded, and that tuition entitlements are not meeting clients needs, are not borne out by research into the program s performance. An Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) audit report found in 2001 that the primary issue of concern within the AMEP has not been that of unmet demand by the client target group, it has rather been that of encouraging eligible clients to take up and complete their tuition entitlement.[207] Client satisfaction surveys commissioned by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) indicate a high level of satisfaction amongst AMEP clients. Yet evidence presented by DIAC to a Supplementary Budget Estimates hearing in October 2006 indicated that few clients complete the hours of tuition for which they are eligible. This was not, however, because the program does not meet their needs reasons included gaining employment, family commitments, and moving, through Job Network, to other Commonwealth funded English language programs, such as the Language Literacy and Numeracy program managed by the Department of Education, Science and Training.

The new funding comprises $40 million for an Employment Pathways Program and $9.2 million for Traineeships in English and Work Readiness. The detail of these programs is not made clear in the Budget announcement. What does seem clear, however, is that the programs represent a move towards using the AMEP as a pathway to employment for new arrivals, rather than simply an on-arrival settlement program aimed at assisting migrants and humanitarian entrants to settle into Australian society more generally.

 

Temporary Protection Visas

Adrienne Millbank
Social Policy Section

The government is providing $4.2 million over five years to make legal and administrative changes and cover extra Centrelink and settlement services costs involved in abolishing Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs). The Minister s press release describes the TPV regime as one of the worst aspects of the Howard Government s punitive treatment of refugees .[208]

Under the TPV regime unauthorised entrants, mainly boat people, who were determined to be refugees under the terms of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, were, as a disincentive, only given temporary visas. Neither permanent residence nor special services are required under the terms of the 1951 Refugee Convention. These TPV holders were not able to sponsor family members into Australia, and did not have access to the special settlement services available for permanent humanitarian migrants, including free English language tuition and assisted accommodation.

There are currently about 1000 TPV holders in Australia, down from over 9000 in 2002 03. There have been few boat arrivals since 2001, and the former government was progressively granting permanent visas, after reassessing protection claims. TPV holders were also able to apply for any other sort of resident visa. The measure will grant all TPV holders, provided they meet security and character requirements, permanent protection visas without the need to have further claims assessed. Australia s direction on this issue would appear not to be in tune with policies in other comparable countries. In the UK, for example, all asylum seekers determined to need protection are initially accorded only five-year resident visas.

Issue:

  • The Opposition s spokesman has expressed concern that providing refugees with permanent visas, regardless of their mode of arrival, will send a clear message to people smugglers that Australia s borders are open for business .[209]


Media and communications

Dr Rhonda Jolly
Social Policy Section

Cyber Safety

Recognition of the power and reach of the Internet and its largely unregulated nature have increasingly concerned governments across the world. In particular, attention has focused on the protection of children from internet predators and material that is obscene or portrays excessive violence and/or racial vilification. In late 2007, in an attempt to deal with this situation, the previous government announced the introduction of an internet filtering scheme which initially was primarily to rely on free internet software filters to block unwanted material for individual computers.

During the election campaign, Labor argued that the Howard Government s plans would not provide adequate cyber safety for children.[210] While it acknowledged the merit of protecting children, it argued that the personal computer filtering program was ineffective and that existing blacklisting of sites was inadequate. It promised therefore to improve internet filtering by introducing filtering by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who would be required to filter out prohibited content identified by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The government s Cyber-safety Plan provides $125.8 million over four years to deliver on this election commitment. Funding for the plan has been provided from savings of $160 million gained from the government s cancellation of the previous government s internet safety initiative.

The Cyber-safety Plan involves a number of aspects, including instituting an education program and specific research projects relating to cyber safety and the establishment of a dedicated website for children. An existing consultative group will be expanded to provide advice to the government on cyber safety issues and a new group will be set up to assist the government to formulate age-appropriate measures to protect children.[211] Following the Budget, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, announced the new composition of this consultative group.[212]

Indicative of the government s commitment to cyber safety and in keeping with its comments during the election that this issue transcends party politics, the government also intends to set up a Joint Parliamentary Standing Committee to investigate and report on cyber safety.[213]

The measure will also provide funding for ACMA to develop a comprehensive blacklist of inappropriate sites. Funding will be provided under the measure to the Australian Federal Police and to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for the investigation and prosecution of incidents of child sexual exploitation.

A significant amount of the funding under this measure has been allocated in 2009‑10 to ISPs, who will receive a one-off subsidy towards the costs of installing ISP level filters.[214]

This budget measure will be welcomed by groups such as Childwise, whose Chief Executive Officer in January 2008 called on all Australians to support the government s mandatory ISP filtering initiative noting that:

It may not be a perfect system but at least it will block access to thousands of child pornographic sites, reduce the demand and protect many hundreds of thousands of children from being exploited in [the] insidious global child sex trade.[215]

The imperfection point needs to be stressed continually to parents, but to date the various cyber safety schemes mostly highlight their possible benefits and not their shortcomings. Whatever the system adopted to filter the Net, whatever the composition or extent of blacklists of unacceptable sites, it is highly unlikely that they will be exhaustive, given the ever-evolving and changing nature of the Net.

Labor s election proposal to address cyber safety also attracted criticism. Prior to the Budget it was argued that it would be ineffective in blocking content and that it would be likely to increase costs and to slow broadband speeds.[216] This comment has resurfaced with the announcement of this budget measure. The Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) lobby group arguing from this perspective, has commented that in a time when the government is cutting some services to fight inflation, it is bewildering that millions of dollars have been committed to this program before feasibility trials have reached a conclusion on the effectiveness of the proposed plan.[217]

While there is clear support for policy that attempts to keep the Internet safe for children, the questions raised by critics of this particular policy should not be overlooked by the government in refining the measure. One of the most important of these is emphasised by one commentator who notes that a disturbing implication of ISP filtering is that it creates the potential for governments and security agencies to add to website blacklists without public discussion or comment .[218] This measure has been on the government s agenda for some time, yet there has been no attempt to provide details of how a blacklist will be compiled, its extent or whether the list can be challenged. Making this information public as a priority, as the government has in other instances, may possibly have allayed some concerns about the measure.

Perceptions are that censorship of this type can only occur in repressive regimes, but it nevertheless remains that this measure should be subject to scrutiny in its development to ensure that the right balance of freedom of access and protective restriction is achieved.

Transition to digital radio and television

Like most developed nations Australia has begun the process of converting television and radio broadcasting from analogue service to digital. Both digital television and radio will deliver substantial benefits for consumers, which include better quality sound and pictures, interactive features and greater listening and viewing choices. The conversion will also free up valuable spectrum resources.

Progress towards digital conversion has been made since the early 1990s. Digital television services have been transmitting since 2001 and digital radio trials have been conducted since 2003. In 2006 the previous government introduced a formal plan for a final switchover from analogue services to digital for television.

The government rejected much of this plan and resolved to abolish Digital Australia, the organisation set up to assist in the digital transition process. In March 2008 it announced its own million digital transition strategy to complete the switchover to digital-only broadcasting by December 2013.

This budget measure provides $37.9 million funding for the switchover strategy. A government Digital Television Switchover Taskforce funded under the measure will coordinate and oversee the transition from analogue to digital television. The Taskforce is to work with stakeholders, including the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) which is to undertake technical projects and assessment of transmission and reception throughout Australia. It will also cooperate with an Industry Advisory Group set up to develop a detailed switchover timetable and reliable information for consumers about the purchase of digital equipment. A Digital Tracker will be implemented in 2008 09 to assess public perceptions of the digital transition, including public awareness and intention by households to convert and actual conversion rates.

Some critics have harshly labelled parts of this measure as shifting deck chairs on the Titanic. The new Digital Television Switchover Taskforce, for example, is seen as simply a name change for the previous government s Digital Australia.[219] Similarly, critics have concluded that the funding allocated to this measure will not be sufficient to ensure a smooth transition to digital. One makes the point that:

[United Kingdom] taxpayers are in the process of spending $2 billion to assist the conversion of television from analogue to digital in the end the Government will just have to fork out to buy some people a free TV because they can t afford it, and their sets will go black just as the fireworks are starting on New Year s Eve 2013, which would be a serious bummer. And as the date looms there will have to be a lot more money spent on advertising the switch-over than is currently being budgeted. Industry sources suggest the total cost will be more like $200 million than $37.9 million.[220]

In contrast to the digital television funding measure, the government expects that funding savings will be achieved under its digital radio measure. These will be achieved by amending the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA) to extend the legislated timetable which requires commercial broadcasters to commence digital radio broadcasting on 1 January 2009. An extension will be sought for a six-month period. This amendment is not intended to prevent commercial, community or national broadcasters from commencing digital radio earlier, subject to necessary regulatory approvals being in place.

Some commentators have suggested, however, that this seemingly uncomplicated move to extend the introduction of digital radio may prompt broadcasters to lobby for more changes to the BSA than is anticipated in this measure. Community radio may, for example, seek changes which will allow it to own digital radio infrastructure.

Despite such comments and concerns that the funding allocated for digital conversion will need to be supplemented in a number of budgets to come, these measures largely represent a positive step towards full digital implementation.


Arts

John Gardiner- Garden
Social Policy Section

The 2008 Budget included large commitments in three different areas of the arts.

The first area of major commitment is film. In February and March 2008 the Government followed up on its election commitment to give the National Film and Sound Archive its own statutory base, by introducing and passing the National Film and Sound Archive Bill 2008.[221] At the same time it followed up on the previous government s commitment to amalgamate the Australian Film Commission, the Film Finance Corporation and the Film Australia Commission and introduce a new film financing arrangement, by introducing and passing the Screen Australia Bill 2008.[222]

In this Budget it was announced that the National Film and Sound Archive will receive $105.2 million over four years, including $25.2 million in 2008 09. Screen Australia is to start operating from July 1 and will receive almost $103 million in 2008 09. The total funding is less than the total amount provided for the bodies that are being amalgamated in the 2007 08 Budget. However, the legislation has introduced a new 40 per cent producer rebate for qualifying productions which might make the industry a little less reliant on direct funding. Peter Garrett, the Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts, declared that the commitments will provide the screen industry with certainty and confidence and are a critical step in ensuring a sustainable and successful local industry .[223]

The second area is that of resale royalty rights for Australia s visual artists. The introduction of a scheme to realise such rights has been called for by many reports, been sketched out in two Private Members Bills introduced by Federal Labor MPs (Kate Lundy in 2003 and Bob McMullan in 2005) and has been part of recent ALP policy .[224] The Access Economics report, Evaluating the Impact of an Australian Resale Royalty on Eligible Visual Artists, October 2004, did not, however, express full confidence that a scheme would actually deliver the increase in the visual artists net income.[225] Minister Garrett announced that the scheme will bring Australia into line with similar resale royalty arrangements operating in the United Kingdom and Europe , but the Access Economics report had found some of these arrangements are unnecessarily complex and not always benefiting those intended.[226] The Minister promised, however, that the scheme would reflect the particular characteristics of the Australian art market and maximise the benefits to artists . He anticipated that an open tender process would be conducted in the second half of 2008 to select an organisation to set up the collecting agency.[227]

The third major area of new commitments was that of increasing youth participation in the arts. To this end, over the next four years, the Australia Council will receive $6.6 million to increase opportunities for young and emerging artists, and $5.2 million to fund professional artists residencies in schools and universities. The Minister has said that these measures would expand the opportunities for young people to experience the arts and create new opportunities for the next generation of artists .[228] The money follows, however, a period in which the Australia Council was obliged to make $2.0 million in operational savings to satisfy a 2 per cent efficiency dividend. The Budget, moreover, did not support the more robust strengthening of arts education in schools which had been called for in the November 2005 report of the National Review of School Music Education[229], in the August 2006 workshop convened following that report, in the ALP s 2004 and 2007 election policy documents, and in the Towards a Creative Australia sessions at the recent the 2020 Summit.

The above sum of just over $1 million a year for the artist in residencies program does not compare favourably with the 332 million committed in November last year by the U.K. government to support a national commitment to better music education in schools. The latter included money for free music tuition for every primary school child for at least a year, children s choirs, orchestras and other ensembles, banks of new musical instruments, a programme to put singing back into the classroom, projects to involve children in deprived areas in music (based on highly successful Venezuelan project, El Sistema) and for extending the partnership work that has made the Music Manifesto initiative a success.[230]

Beyond the above three major areas of announcement, the 2008 Budget also provided for the following:

  • $7.6 million (already announced in February) over four years to support the already existing National Arts and Crafts Industry Support Program through which funding is directed to Indigenous art centres and advocacy organisations
  • $11.8 million over four years for the Regional Arts Fund Program to support sustainable cultural development in regional and remote Australia. This represented a slight fall on previous year s commitments, but the Budget also committed $10 million over four years for a not unrelated program to be called Creative Communities[231] promised during the 2007 Election as a response to the Australia Council's Community Partnerships Scoping Study Report 2006[232].
  • $2.4 million over four years to support contemporary Australian music though the Australian Music Radio Airplay Project (AMRAP) a program which commenced operation in 2000 with $1.5 million in federal funding provided to the Community Broadcasting Foundation.[233]

The 2008 Budget offered no support for improved access for artists to social security (the so-called ArtStart program) which Peter Garrett as Shadow Minister for the Arts flagged in a paper entitled New Directions for the Arts in September 2007 and which was part of the Australian Labor Party s 2007 election policy.[234] The promise was to harmonise Australia Council, Centrelink and the Australian Tax Office rules and determine the most equitable way to treat earnings and royalty payments for artists currently receiving welfare.

It is also noteworthy that collecting agencies such as the National Library and National Museum received effective funding cuts. The National Library s budgeted income for 2008 09 ($71.3 million) is only $1.3 million more than estimated actual income for 2007 08 because detracting from a projected (mostly interest) revenue increase of $2 million, is a $0.6 million efficiency dividend. Similarly, the National Museum of Australia s budgeted income for 2008 09 of $45.6 million is $1.6 million less than the estimated actual of $47.2 million for 2007 08. This is not only because of some one-off funding received during 2007 08, but also because the efficiency dividend, in the absence of any funding increase, will reduce revenue from the government by $0.5m.


Sport

Dr Rhonda Jolly
Social Policy Section

Prior to the Budget, the government withdrew $25 million funding support to the Australian Rugby Union for redevelopment of Ballymore Oval and $10 million in funding support for Rugby League s centenary celebrations.[235]

The Budget also rescinded a number of other proposed sporting measures including the Fishing Hall of Fame and the establishment of a National Training Centre for Aerial Skiing. It has reduced funding for an advertising and information campaign on illicit drugs in sport considering that this has been addressed through existing drug campaigns.

There is, however, a considerable amount of funding for sporting programs and infrastructure in this Budget.

A balance appears to have been struck between funding for elite sports, sporting events and promoting grass roots participation. Funding has been provided, for example, for the upgrade of a number of sporting venues such as the Campbelltown Sports Stadium ($8 million over two years) and the Penrith Valley Sports Hub ($5 million in 2008 09). While these venues are used for elite sporting competition, as the government notes, improvements to these grounds will also facilitate greater use by community and other sporting groups.

The government has also provided $20.8 million to a diverse range of smaller community sports projects. It notes that providing this budget funding delivers on a number of election commitments and the development of accessible community facilities is part of its strategy to increase participation in sport.

A local sporting champions measure will receive $6.4 million over four years. This measure will provide grants to junior athletes to participate in sporting events that require them to travel more than 250 kilometres to compete. The program is intended particularly to assist young people from rural and remote areas participate.

Funding of $16 million over two years will be provided to the Football Federation of Australia for a number of purposes such as support to establish a football facilities fund to deliver grants to local football clubs and to provide support for coaching and other referee programs. It is interesting to contrast this with Netball Australia which will only receive $2.4 million over three years. This funding is intended to assist in the establishment of a new national netball league, an Indigenous netball strategy and a junior participation program. Both netball and football (soccer) are amongst Australia s most popular sports, so it could be argued that such budget incongruities perhaps reflect the lobbying abilities of the sports promoters and not the actual needs of the particular sports.[236]

Two specific measures have been funded to assist participation in sports by people with a disability. The Australian Paralympic Committee will receive $22.8 million over five years and Special Olympics Australia has been given $1.2 million over four years. Funding of $2.3 million over four years has been provided to assist RecLink to expand sport and cultural programs for homeless people and people suffering from drug and alcohol abuse and mental illness.

The government has provided extra funding ($7.6 million over five years) to the Australian Sports Commission (AIS) so that, unlike other agencies which will be affected by a two per cent efficiency dividend imposed in the Budget, the AIS will continue a similar level of grants funding to various sporting organisations.[237]

The government will contribute to the staging of international events with contributions of $8.5 million towards the World Masters Games in Sydney in 2009 and $8.6 million to assist Western Australia to stage the 2011 World Sailing Championships.

Another interesting incongruity is that while funding for some elite sports has been rejected, other sports have been well served by the Budget. Funding was cut for a Rugby League Hall of Fame in the League s centenary year, yet $6.5 million was provided to expand cricket s Bradman Museum. Funding for the development of Ballymore Oval was also cut, but $17.5 million was provided for the redevelopment of the Cricket Australia Centre of Excellence in Brisbane.

An amount of funding ($4.4 million) will be provided to the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority in 2008 09 for education programs and its drug testing regime. This will facilitate compliance with the World Anti Doping Code. The government has announced that funding for these purposes will be reassessed following a review of cost recovery by the anti-doping authority.

There has been little comment on the Budget sports measures, probably because significant cuts had been previously announced. Another reason that sport funding in the Budget most probably does not elicit much comment is that in general, Australians support funding for both grass roots and elite sports. Yet another reason may be that as funding arrangements for most sports are assessed and administered by the AIS, funding of individual sports is to some extent divorced from the Budget process if funding for that sport s national body is seen to be adequate. One commentator does, however, argue that funding for sport could be provided by corporate sponsors rather than government and that the savings should then be transferred to other areas.[238] Such a view devalues the contribution sport and physical activity make to the overall health and well being of society; a reality which all governments in Australia continue to acknowledge.[239]



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[8]. L. Tingle, Coalition threatens budget showdown , Australian Financial Review, 15 May 2008, p. 1, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
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[9]. Australian Health Ministers Conference, National Advisory Committee on Oral Health, Healthy Mouths Healthy Lives: Australia s National Oral Health Plan 2004 2013, Department of Health, [Adelaide], 2004, p. vii,
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[10]. ibid, p. v.

[11]. Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Australian Taxation Statistics 2005 06, ATO, Canberra, 2008, Table 2.13, p. 20, http://www.ato.gov.au/content/downloads/00117625_2006CH2PER.pdf, accessed on 19 May 2008.

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[13]. Australian Medical Association (AMA), Budget private health changes will hurt, media release, AMA, Barton, ACT, 14 May 2008, http://www.ama.com.au/web.nsf/doc/WEEN-7EM4EC, accessed on 19 May 2008;Australian Health Insurance Association (AHIA), Hundreds of thousands to join public hospital waiting lists, media release, AHIA, Deakin, ACT, 10 May 2008,
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[15]. W. Swan (Treasurer), Address to the National Press Club, media release, Canberra, Parliament House, Canberra, 14 May 2008, http://www.treasurer.gov.au/DisplayDocs.aspx?doc=speeches/2008/010.htm&pageID=
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[17]. NIB Chief Executive, Mark Fitzgibbon, as reported in J. Breusch, Industry mulls Labor surcharge shake-up , Australian Financial Review, 22 November 2007, p. 17, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
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[18]. N. Miller and L. Shanahan, 600,000 may quit health insurance , The Age, 13 May 2008, p. 2, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
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[19]. G. Winestock, NIB ready to slash marketing , Australian Financial Review, 13 May 2008, p. 53, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
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[20]. Australian Government, Part 1: Revenue Measures , Budget Paper No. 2: Budget Measures 2008 09, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2007, p. 9.

[21]. B. Grabau, Cost-recovery drive could impact on sustainability on the PBS, Canberra Times, 18 May 2005, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
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[22]. Nicola Roxon, Second reading speech: National Health Amendment (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) Bill 2007 , House of Representatives, Debates, 31 May 2007, p. 10,
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[23]. Medicines Australia, Medicines Australia surprised by PBAC measure, media release, 13 May 2008, http://www.medicinesaustralia.com.au/pages/view_news.asp?id=81, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[24]. S. Ryan, Drug committee left to rely on industry funding , The Australian, 15 May 2008, p. 9, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
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[25]. Community Affairs Legislation Committee, Budget Estimates, 1 June 2005, CA125.

[26]. Cost recovery for evaluation and listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and National Immunisation Program (NIP) Frequently Asked Questions, http://www.pbs.gov.au/html/healthpro/
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[27]. Department of Health and Ageing, Prostheses list guide to listing and setting benefits for prostheses. Part 1: understanding the prostheses arrangements, November 2007,
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[28]. Budget Paper No. 2, op. cit., p. 9.

[29]. Productivity Commission, Cost recovery by Government agencies, Report no.15, AusInfo, Canberra, 2001, p. 175.

[30]. Commonwealth of Australia, Australian Government Cost Recovery Guidelines, Canberra, 2005, p. 5, http://www.finance.gov.au/finframework/docs/Cost_Recovery_Guidelines.pdf, accessed on 14 May 2008.

[31]. T. Abbott (Minister for Health and Ageing), PBS Reform, media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 2 May 2007, http://www.health.gov.au/internet/ministers/publishing.nsf/Content/
health-mediarel-yr2006-ta-abb152.htm?OpenDocument&yr=2006&mth=11
, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[32]. This was based on analysis of the 2007 08 and 2008 09 budget papers. According to Budget Paper No. 2 of the 2007 08 Budget, there was $15.2 million expenditure allocated in 2007 08 (p. 244). Budget Paper No. 2 of the 2008 09 Budget showed a saving of $10.1million and no expenditure in the forward estimates period (p. 394). Thus, the expenditure available for the generics medicines campaign is $5.1 million to be spent in the 2007 08 financial year.

[33]. Department of Health and Ageing, Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Reform , Factsheet, 2 February 2007, http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/pbs_reform_02feb07.htm, accessed on 14 May 2008.

[34]. Generic Medicines Industry Association (GMiA), Consumers the losers in budget decision to cut funding for generic medicines public information campaign, media release, GMiA, Sydney, 14 May 2008.

[35]. ibid.

[36]. Budget Paper No. 2, op. cit., p. 236.

[37]. Aged Care Industry Council, Older people escape the razor for now , The National report, issue 179, 13 May 2008, http://www.agedcare.org.au/Publications/national-report-pdfs/
ACSA%20Nat%20Rep%20Issue179-Budget-Edition-13May08.pdf
, accessed on 14 May 2008.

[38]. See Council of the Ageing (COTA) over 50s, Budget same old for older Australians, media release, Canberra, 13 May 2008, http://www.cotaover50s.org.au/news.php?item.75.1, accessed on 19 May 2008; and Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association (CPSA) Wayne doesn t get it: age and disability pensioners can t wait another year, media release, NSW, 15 May 2008, http://www.cpsa.org.au/MAIN/srelease.php?id=49, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[39]. J. Elliot (Minister for Ageing), New directions for older Australians, media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 13 May 2008, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
Folder=pressrel&Criteria=CITATION_ID:JJGQ6%3B
, accessed on 14 May 2008.

[40]. J. Gillard (Deputy Prime Minister) and N. Roxon (Minister for Health and Ageing), COAG to deliver up to 50 000 more frontline health workers, media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 28 March 2008, http://www.health.gov.au/internet/ministers/publishing.nsf/Content/mr-yr08-nr-nr036.htm, accessed on 14 May 2008.

[41]. Health Professions Council of Australia, (HPCA) Solving the Crisis in Clinical Education for Australia s Health Professionals, HPCA, Fitzroy, Vic., 2004, http://www.shpa.org.au/pdf/whatsnew/hpca_clin.pdf, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[42]. Allied Health Professions Australia (AHPA), Allied Health Care Priorities for Health Care Reform: A Submission to the Health and Hospitals Advisory Group, Australian Labor Party, AHPA, Melbourne, 2007, http://www.aopa.org.au/Documents/AHPA%20submission%20to%
20Health%20and%20Hospitals%20Advisory%20group.pdf
, accessed on 19 May 2008. .

[43]. Australian Nursing Federation, ANF rejects Howard s hospital based training plan, media release, Canberra, 14 September 2007, http://www.anf.org.au/02_anf_news_media/news_press_070914a.html, accessed on 14 May 2008.

[44]. Australian Nursing Federation, $407.6 million pot of gold for the aged care industry, media release, Canberra, 13 May 2008,
http://www.anf.org.au/
, accessed on 14 May 2008.

[45]. K. Andrews (Minister for Ageing), $26.3 million for up to 1000 aged care nursing scholarships, Parliament House, Canberra, media release, 28 August 2002, http://www.health.gov.au/internet/wcms/publishing.nsf/
content/health-mediarel-yr2002-ka-ka02077.htm
, accessed on 14 May 2008. This initial funding was extended in later budgets, most recently in 2007 08. For details see http://www.budget.gov.au/2007-08/bp2/html/expense-20.htm, accessed on 14 May 2008.

[46]. Australian Nursing Federation, Providing a nursing workforce for Australians into the future, 2008 09 Australian Government pre budget submission, Canberra, January 2008,
http://www.anf.org.au/02_anf_news_media/news_press_070914a.html
, accessed on 12 May 2008.

[47]. Australian Medical Association, Federal Budget Submission 2008 09, Canberra, p. 6,
http://www.ama.com.au/web.nsf/doc/WEEN-7B2VLX/$file/AMA_budget_submission_2008-09.pdf
, accessed on 14 May 2008.

[48]. Royal Australian College of General Practitioners , Federal Budget 2008: Giving GPs the support they need to deliver for the community: Providing better access to health for all Australians, Canberra, 2008, http://www.racgp.org.au/AM/Template.cfm?Section=search&section=
Reports_submissions_and_outcomes2&template=/
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, accessed on 13 May 2008.

[49]. P. Brooks, The health workforce of the future partnerships in health care , Australian Health Consumer, No. 2, 2005 2006, http://www.chf.org.au/Docs/Downloads/AHC2005-2_Brooks.pdf, accessed on 14 May 2008.

[50]. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey First results, AIHW, Canberra, April 2008. Dr Jeremy Sammut, a research fellow at The Centre for Independent Studies, has accused the government of skewing the 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey figures in order to justify its alcopop tax hike. While Sammut questions the notion that binge drinking among young women has increased in recent years, he nevertheless observes that those women who do binge drink should be a matter of concern. See J. Sammut, Forget alcohol the binge here is on taxing drinkers , Daily Telegraph, 1 May 2008, p. 27, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
Folder=pressclp&Criteria=CITATION_ID:WXAQ6%3B
, accessed on 16 May 2008.

[51]. Budget Paper No. 2, op. cit.

[52]. See for example M. Franklin, Senate threat to alcopop tax grab , The Australian, 15 May 2008, p.1, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
Folder=pressclp&Criteria=CITATION_ID:7UFQ6%3B
, accessed on 16 May 2008.

[53]. ibid.

[54]. Treasury Executive Minute, 14 May 2008.

[55]. D. Jernigan, Global Status Report: Alcohol and Young People, World Health Organisation, Geneva, 2001, pp. 41 2, http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/2001/WHO_MSD_MSB_01.1.pdf, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[56]. D. Jernigan, op. cit.

[57]. See J. Vaughan, Alcopops out, young now mix their own , Adelaide Advertiser, 12 May 2008, p.7, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
Folder=pressclp&Criteria=CITATION_ID:PFEQ6%3B
, accessed on 16 May 2008.

[58]. ibid.

[59]. See K. Hannon, Generation Binge is it possible to just say no , Canberra Times, 3 May 2008, p.3, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
Folder=pressclp&Criteria=CITATION_ID:LOBQ6%3B
, accessed on 16 May 2008.

[60]. World Health Organisation, Global Status Report: Alcohol Policy, World Health Organisation, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Geneva, 2004,
http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/publications/en/Alcohol Policy Report.pdf, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[61]. Budget Paper No. 2, op. cit.

[62]. ibid.

[63]. On 16 May 2008, Senator Bob Brown wrote to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to call for a ban on alcohol advertisements that target young Australians, particularly advertisements that associate alcohol with sport. Brown also requested that a significant proportion of the $3.1 billion to be raised through the alcopop tax be spent on alcohol treatment facilities and programs, especially in Indigenous communities where they are urgently needed. See. B. Brown, Brown to Rudd: use Alcopops tax to tackle alcohol abuse, media release, 16 May 2008, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
Folder=pressrel&Criteria=CITATION_ID:QJGQ6%3B
, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[64]. Jernigan, op. cit., p. 39.

[65]. Recent research indicates that a majority (52 per cent of 1054 people surveyed) of Australians are in favour of increased alcohol taxes. These respondents were also in favour of the extra money gained through increased taxes being spent on reducing binge drinking. See Australian Broadcasting Commission, Aust wants more alcohol taxes: survey, ABC, 31 March 2008, http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/03/31/2203673.htm, accessed on 16 May 2008. The measure is also reported to have the support of the medical fraternity. See H. Aston, Price rise in mix to deter kids , Herald Sun, 19 April 2008, p.3, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
Folder=pressclp&Criteria=CITATION_ID:OQ7Q6%3B
, accessed on 16 May 2008.

[66]. R. Colbeck (Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Health), media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 15 May 2008.

[67]. Australian Government, Part 2: Expense Measures , Budget Paper No. 2: Budget Measures 2008 09, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2008, p. 133; and J. Gillard, Budget: Education Revolution 2008 09, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2008, p. iii. The second figure, $19.3 billion, is likely to include the commitment to allocate funds from the surplus for the new Education Investment Fund (EIF). While comparisons might be made with the Coalition Government s Realising Our Potential increases to education expenditure in the 2007 08 Budget, which totalled $3.5 billion over four years, it should be remembered that Coalition election promises involving additional education expenditure are not included in this figure.

[68]. Australian Government, Statement 6: Expenses and Net capital Investment , Budget Paper No. 1: Budget Strategy and Outlook 2007 08 and 2008 09, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2007 and 2008, p. 6-31 and p. 6-43 respectively.

[69]. Budget Paper No. 2, op. cit., pp. 326 27.

[70]. Budget Paper No. 1, op. cit., p. 6 43.

[71]. ibid.

[72]. Australian Government, Part 3: Payments for Specific Purposes , Budget Paper No. 3: Australia s Federal Relations, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2008, p. 101.

[73]. Australian Government, Portfolio Budget Statements 2008 09: Budget related paper No. 1.5, Education, Employment and Workplace Relations portfolio, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2008, p. 43; and Australian Government, Appendix B: Payments to the States , Budget Paper No. 3: Australia s Federal Relations, op. cit., pp. 100 101.

[74]. Appendix B: Payments to the States , Budget Paper No. 3: Australia s Federal Relations, op. cit.

[75]. Statement 6: Expenses and Net Capital Investment , Budget Paper No. 1, op. cit.

[76]. Portfolio Budget Statements 2008 09: Budget related paper No. 1.5, Education, Employment and Workplace Relations portfolio, op. cit., pp. 43 44.

[77]. P. Kelly, Gillard to end school inequality , The Australian, 15 March 2008, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
Folder=pressclp&Criteria=CITATION_ID:VLWP6%3B
, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[78]. S. Smith (Shadow Minister for Education and Training), Federal Labor commits to address the funding needs of Jewish schools, media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 10 August 2007,
http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
Folder=pressrel&Criteria=CITATION_ID:OBSO6%3B
, accessed on 15 May 2008. For an explanation of Australian Government GRGs for schools, see M. Harrington, Australian Government General Recurrent Grants for Schools A Brief Explanation, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2007,
http://libiis1/Library_Services/electoralatlas/SchoolGrants/Explanation.htm, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[79]. Communiqu , Council of Australian Governments Meeting, 26 March 2008, p. 4,
http://www.mceetya.edu.au/verve/_resources/Draft_Comminque_(v5).pdf, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[80]. For example, see Australian Education Union, Federal Budget fails test for public education, media release, VIC, 13 May 2008, http://www.aeufederal.org.au/Media/MediaReleases/2008/1305.pdf, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[81]. Australian Primary Principals Association (APPA), Delivering Better Educational Outcomes in Australian Primary Schools: Submission to the Commonwealth Minister for Education Regarding Quadrennial Funding for 2009 2012, APPA, Kaleen, ACT, 2008, p. 1,
http://www.appa.asn.au/cms/uploads/reports/fundingpaper20080316.pdf
, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[82]. ibid., p. 9.

[83]. Independent Schools Council of Australia, Independent Update, Issue 6, 2007,
http://www.isca.edu.au/html/PDF/Indep_Updates/IndUpdate%206-07%20-%20colour.pdf
, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[84]. National Catholic Education Commission, What are Catholic School Communities Seeking from Political Parties in the 2007 Election?,
http://www.ncec.catholic.edu.au/pages/images/NCEC_election_flyer%202007%20-%20colour.pdf
, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[85]. M. Angus, H. Olney and J. Ainley, In the Balance: The Future of Australia s Primary Schools, Australian Primary Principals Association, 2007, p. xi, http://www.dest.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/99B2BFB1-FEB1-45BF-A89E-0575D1231705/18936/FinalSRAPS38Aug2007.pdf, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[86]. For more information see the Investigating the Feasibility of Flexible Funding for Students with Disability website, http://www.dest.gov.au/sectors/school_education/programmes_funding/programme_categories/
special_needs_disadvantage/flexible_funding_students_with_disability.htm
, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[87]. For more information see the IOSP website, http://www.investinginourschools.dest.gov.au/, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[88]. For more information see the Australian Technical Colleges website,
http://www.australiantechnicalcolleges.gov.au/, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[89]. Portfolio Budget Statements 2008 09: Budget related paper No. 1.5, Education, Employment and Workplace Relations portfolio, op. cit., p. 47.

[90]. For more information see the Teaching Australia website,
http://www.teachingaustralia.edu.au/ta/go/home, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[91]. Portfolio Budget Statements 2008 09: Budget related paper No. 1.5, Education, Employment and Workplace Relations portfolio, op. cit., p. 269.

[92]. For eligibility criteria, see J. Gillard (Minister for Education) and W. Swan (Treasurer), $4.4 billion to help families meet schooling costs, media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 13 May 2008,
http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
Folder=pressrel&Criteria=CITATION_ID:34GQ6%3B
, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[93]. K. Rudd and S. Smith , The Australian economy needs an education revolution: new directions paper on the critical link between long term prosperity, productivity growth and human capital investment, ALP, Canberra, 2007, p. 5, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
Folder=partypol&Criteria=CITATION_ID:181M6%3B
, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[94]. Budget: Education Revolution 2008 09, op. cit.

[95]. See DEEWR website, Review of Australian Higher Education, http://www.dest.gov.au/sectors/higher_education/policy_issues_reviews/reviews/highered_review/, accessed on 19 May 2008. See also J. Gillard (Minister for Education), A Higher Education Revolution: Creating a Productive Prosperous Modern Australia: address to the Australian Financial Review s Higher Education Conference, media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 13 March 2008, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
Folder=pressrel&Criteria=CITATION_ID:LMXP6%3B
, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[96]. Budget Paper No. 1, op. cit., pp. 6 14.

[97]. Budget Paper No. 2, op. cit., pp. 184.

[98]. Group of Eight, Historic Day for Australia s Higher Education sector, media release, 16 August 2007; Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS) submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Employment, Workplace Relations and Education, Inquiry into the Higher Education Endowment Fund Bill 2007,
http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/
eet_ctte/highered_endowment07/submissions/sub06.pdf
, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[99]. J. Gillard (Minister for Education), $11 billion Education Investment Fund to transform higher education and vocational education training, media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 13 May 2008.

[100]. Budget Paper No. 2: Budget Measures 2008 09, op. cit. p. 149; and Budget: Education Revolution 2008 09, op. cit., p. 47.

[101]. S. Smith (Shadow Minister for Education and Training),
Better access, a fairer system: Labor s full fee degree phase out, media statement, Parliament House, Canberra, 22 November 2007.

[102]. Budget: Education Revolution 2008-09, op. cit., p. 50. See also the discussion paper Scholarships for a Competitive Future released as part of the government s consultation process on the implementation of the initiative, http://www.dest.gov.au/sectors/higher_education/policy_issues_reviews/
key_issues/scholarship/Scholarships_Competitive_Future.htm
, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[103]. In 2006, the share of overall institutional revenues derived from student contributions reached its highest level and the government share its lowest. Commonwealth payments accounted for 83 per cent of total higher education revenue in 1986, 57 per cent in 1996, and 41 per cent in 2006. Group of Eight, Go8 Backgrounder No. 1, October 2007, http://www.go8.edu.au/policy/papers/2007/Go8 Backgrounder No 1, Oct 2007.pdf, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[104]. K. Rudd and S. Smith, op. cit., pp. 15 16.

[105]. For example, Universities Australia has recommended the exclusion of all scholarships and bursaries (regardless of their source) from assessable income for purposes of student income support, and the reduction of the age of independence for Youth Allowance from the current 25 years to 18 years. Universities Australia, Solutions for Building Australia's Human Capital through Universities, provided to the Commonwealth Government by Universities Australia to inform 2008 Budget deliberations and beyond, Position Paper 1/08, Canberra, February 2008,
http://www.universitiesaustralia.edu.au/documents/publications/discussion/
Building-Human-Capital-through-Unis.pdf
, accessed on 19 May 2008. See also: Senate Education Employment and Workplace Relations Committee, Student Income Support, Canberra 2005, completed_inquiries/2004-07/studentincome04/report/index.htm
http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/eet_ctte/, accessed on 19 May 2008; Universities Australia, Budget commitments to universities commended , media release, 13 May 2008, http://www.universitiesaustralia.edu.au/
documents/news/media_releases/2008/uniaus_media_13_08.pdf
, accessed on 19 May 2008; S. Matchett, Budget 2008: $11bn in unis cash bonanza , The Australian, 14 May 2008,
http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
Folder=pressclp&Criteria=CITATION_ID:AAFQ6%3B
;, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[106]. Australian Academy of Science, Mathematics and Statistics: Critical Skills for Australia s Future, Canberra, December 2006, http://www.review.ms.unimelb.edu.au/FullReport2006.pdf, accessed on 19 May 2008. See also Science, Engineering and Technology Skills Audit, DEST, 2006, http://www.dest.gov.au/sectors/science_innovation/publications_resources/profiles/
science_engineering_technology_skills_audit_report.htm
, accessed on 19 May 2008. The summary of submissions working paper noted views on the need to improve university enrolments in Science, Engineering and Technology. Most submissions concentrated on the need to attract more students to enabling subjects at school, quality of school teachers and the image of Science, Engineering and Technology careers. None discussed the student contribution rates (HECS) as being a deterrent,
http://www.dest.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/E0CFEB21-72F7-41C8-90CB-C0608645763D/13054/summary_of_submissions.pdf
, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[107]. K. Rudd et al., Skilling Australia for the future: Election 2007 policy document, ALP, 2007, p. 17, http://www.mskills.com.au/DownloadManager/Downloads/ALP%20Skills%20policy.pdf, accessed on 15 February 2008.

[108]. Portfolio Budget Statements 2008 09: Budget Related Paper No. 1.5, Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Portfolio, op. cit., p. 79.

[109]. Department of education, Science and Training, Annual National Report of the Australian Vocational and Technical Education System 2005, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2006, p. 141,http://www.dest.gov.au/sectors/training_skills/publications_resources/profiles/
Annual_National_Report_Australian_VTESystem2005.htm
, accessed on 17 May 2008.

[110]. See K. Rudd, op. cit., for details on the commitment to a new program for creating and allocating new training places.

[111]. Budget Paper No. 2, op. cit., p. 136 7.

[112]. J. Gillard (Minister for Education), Skilling Australia for the future, media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 13 May 2008, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
Folder=pressrel&Criteria=CITATION_ID:XBIQ6%3B
, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[113]. The Coalition Government, Election 2007 Policy: New Skills: Vouchers for Training,
http://parlinfoweb.parl.net/parlinfo/Repository1/Library/partypol/HOQO62.pdf, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[114]. For more background see Carol Kempner, Skills Australia Bill 2008 , Bills Digest, no.63, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2007 08,
http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?Folder=billsdgs&Criteria=CITATION_ID:X7PP6, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[115]. A. Symonds, Skills policy defended after poor take-up , Australian Financial Review, 30 April 2008, p.4, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/
TranslateWIPILink.aspx?Folder=pressclp&Criteria=CITATION_ID:5MAQ6, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[116]. A. Robb (Minister for Vocational and Further Education), Labor s skills policy: smoke and mirrors, media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 15 November 2007,
http://parlinfoweb.parl.net/parlinfo/Repository1/Media/pressrel/R10P60.pdf
, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[117]. See Leesa Wheelahan s comments in L. White, FEE-HELP welcomed, but concerns over equity , Campus Review, vol. 17, no. 34, 28 August, 2007, p. 12, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
Folder=jrnart&Criteria=CITATION_ID:0V6O6
, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[118]. The Victorian Government s discussion paper, Securing our future economic prosperity: discussion paper on skills reform, April 2008, proposes introducing an income-contingent loan scheme as part of an overhaul of its vocational education system. It suggests that it could use pre-existing arrangements and would therefore need the support of the Commonwealth to do so, http://www.otte.vic.gov.au/library/public/postcomp/5010_Skills_Reform_web.pdf, accessed on 19 May 2008. In February 2008, the VET National Senior Official s Committee considered a discussion paper on how to proceed with the plan of action proposed by a report commissioned by the Howard Government, Skilling Australia s Workforce 2005 08 Mid-Term Review, The Boston Consulting Group, Department of Education, Science and Training, 2007,
http://mediacentre.dewr.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/FAC260D8-3C93-4C88-8515-DC162800E7CC/0/FinalReport.pdf
, accessed on 2 May 2008. The paper is reported to have advised that administrators examine the place of income contingent loans, specifically the VET Fee-Help scheme . See J. Ross, Foot comes off the throat of unis, put on TAFEs instead? , Campus Review, 11 March, 2008, pp.1 3.

[119]. M. Kinsman, Taking the charge , Campus Review, vol. 17, no. 40, October 9, 2007, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?Folder=jrnart&Criteria=CITATION_ID:0YLO6, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[120]. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) does, however, caution that the shift in expenditure should be interpreted with caution due to the differing nature of the programs. For further detail see Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia s Welfare 2007, AIHW, Canberra, 2007, p. 222,
http://www.aihw.gov.au/publications/index.cfm/title/10527
, accessed on 16 May 2008.

[121]. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Public rental housing 2006-07: Commonwealth State Housing Agreement national data report, AIHW, Canberra, January 2008, p. x, http://www.aihw.gov.au/publications/hou/prh06-07-cshandr/prh06-07-cshandr.pdf, accessed on 16 May 2008.

[122]. ibid.

[123]. Australian Property Monitors, Quarterly APM Domain Rental Series March, media release, APM, 3 April 2008, http://www.homepriceguide.com.au/media_release/
APM_Rental_Market_Report_March2008_Quarter.pdf
, accessed on 16 May 2008 .

[124]. J. Yates et al., Housing Affordability: a 21st century problem. National Research Venture 3: Housing affordability for lower income Australians, Final Report no. 105, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), September 2007, http://www.ahuri.edu.au/downloads/NRV3/AHURI_
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[125]. Australian Government, Part 2: Expense Measures , Budget Paper No. 2: Budget Measures 2008 09, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2008.

[126]. ibid., p. 166.

[127]. ibid., p. 173.

[128]. ibid., p. 171.

[129]. Australian Government, Part 2: the COAG Reform Agenda , Budget Paper No. 3: Australia s Federal Relations 2008 09, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2008.

[130]. See, for example, S. Schrapel, Boost public housing to halt homes crisis , Sunday Mail Adelaide, 13 April 2008, p.75, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
Folder=pressclp&Criteria=CITATION_ID:YQ5Q6%3B
, accessed on 16 May 2008; and Australian Council of Social Service, Towards a Fairer Australia, ACOSS 2007 Election Statement, Paper 151, October 2007,
http://www.acoss.org.au/upload/news/3391__
Paper%20151%20Towards%20a%20fairer%20Australia.pdf
, accessed on 16 May 2008.

[131]. J. Gillard (Minister for Education), Budget: Education Revolution 2008-09: Statement, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2008, pp. 6 7.

[132]. For information about this research see M. Harrington, Preschool education in Australia , Background Note, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2008,
http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/bn/2007-08/PreschoolEdAustralia.htm#HeaderDefinition, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[133]. Council of Australian Governments, Communique, 13 April 2007, p. 4,
http://www.coag.gov.au/meetings/130407/docs/coag130407.pdf
, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[134]. Australian Government, Part 3: Payments for Specific Purposes , Budget Paper No. 3: Australia s Federal Relations 2008 09, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2008, p. 39.

[135]. Australian Government, Statement 6: Expenses and Net Capital Investment , Budget Paper No. 1: Budget Strategy and Outlook 2008 09, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2008, p. 6-43.

[136]. Australia 2020, Australia 2020 Summit: Initial summit report, p. 8,
http://www.australia2020.gov.au/docs/2020_Summit_initial_report.pdf
, accessed on 15 May 2008; and Communique, Joint MCEETYA/MCVTE Meeting, 17 April 2008, pp. 3 4,
http://www.mceetya.edu.au/verve/_resources/Draft_Comminque_(v5).pdf
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[137]. Australian Government, Portfolio Budget Statements 2008 09: Budget related paper No. 1.5, Education, Employment and Workplace Relations portfolio, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2008, p. 30.

[138]. Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision, Children s services , Report on Government Services 2008, The Committee, Melbourne, 2008, p. 3.8,
http://www.pc.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/74644/chapter03.pdf, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[139]. For an overview of preschool education in Australia, see Harrington, op. cit.

[140]. K. Walker, National Preschool Education Inquiry: For all Our Children: Report of the Independent Inquiry into the Provision of Universal Access to High Quality Preschool Education, Australian Education Union, Southbank, Vic., 2004, http://www.aeufederal.org.au/Ec/ecfullreport.pdf, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[141]. D. Gough, Daycare stopping children going to kindergarten , The Sunday Age, 22 July 2007, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
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[142]. J. Macklin (Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs), National framework for protecting Australia s children, Budget 2008 09, media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 13 May 2008,
http://www.jennymacklin.fahcsia.gov.au/internet/
jennymacklin.nsf/content/budget08_children_13may2008.htm
, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[143]. Adjusted taxable income currently refers to net taxable income with employer provided fringe benefits, foreign income and negatively geared property losses added back in.

[144]. Australian Government, Budget Paper No. 2: Budget Measures 2008 09, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 370.

[145]. Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (More Help for Families Increased Payments) Act 2004, http://www.fedlaw.gov.au/ComLaw/Legislation/ActCompilation1.nsf/
0/D55B6ED42CDBFD5ECA25720A00253C1D/$file/
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[146]. Budget Paper No. 2, op. cit., p. 370.

[147]. Department of Families and Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, 2006-07 Annual Report, Canberra, 2007, p. 169, http://www.facs.gov.au/annualreport/2007/pdf.htm, accessed on 18 May 2008.

[148]. Australian Government, Portfolio Budget Statements 2008 09: Budget related paper No. 1.7, Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Portfolio, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2008, p. 88,
http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/internet/facsinternet.nsf/aboutfacs/budget/budget2008-08_pbs.htm, accessed on 18 May 2008.

[149]. J. Macklin (Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs), Simpler and Fairer Family Payments, media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 13 May 2008,
http://www.jennymacklin.fahcsia.gov.au/internet/
jennymacklin.nsf/content/budget08_family_13may08.htm
, accessed on 18 May 2008.

[150]. Budget Paper No. 2, op. cit., p. 29 31.

[151]. See footnote No.1 for an explanation of adjusted taxable income.

[152]. Budget Paper No. 2, op. cit., pp. 370 371.

[153]. L. Lang, D. Daniels and P. Yeend, A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999 , Bills Digest, No. 175, Department of the Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 1998 99,
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[154]. Senate, 2006-07 Supplementary Estimates, Community Affairs Committee, Answer to Question on Notice No. 284 from Senator Chris Evans, Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Portfolio, Canberra, 3 and 4 March 2007,
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[155]. Macklin, op. cit.

[156]. Budget Paper No. 2, op. cit., pp. 370 371.

[157]. ibid.

[158] P. Apps, The New Discrimination and Childcare , paper presented at Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia workshop, Childcare: A BetterPolicy Framework for Australia, The University of Sydney, 13-14 July, 2006, cited by E. Hill,
Budgeting for work-life balance: the ideology and politics of work and family policy in Australia , Australian bulletin of labour, v.33, no.2, 2007, pp. 234 7, accessed on 21 May 2008.

[159]. Budget Paper No. 2, op. cit., pp. 29 31.

[160]. ibid., pp. 381 382.

[161]. See footnote No. 1 for an explanation of adjusted taxable income.

[162]. Budget Paper No. 2, op. cit., pp. 381 382.

[163]. Budget Paper No. 2, op. cit., p. 29.

[164]. ibid., pp. 30 31.

[165]. Reportable fringe benefits are those provided by an employer to an employee or their spouse or child, because of employment, for example a work car, subsidised loan, private health insurance, cleaning services for a private residence, mobile phone, a salary sacrifice arrangement..

[166]. Budget Paper No. 2, op. cit., p. 31.

[167]. For further stakeholder comment see National Disability Services (NDS), 2008 09 Federal Budget delivers little that was not expected, media release, 13 May 2008, http://www.nds.org.au/national/default.htm, accessed on 15 May 2008. For detailed analysis of unmet demand see the Senate Community Affairs Committee report, Funding and operation of the Commonwealth State/Territory Disability Agreement, February 2007,
http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/clac_ctte/cstda/report/index.htm
, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[168]. J. Macklin (Minister for Families Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) and B. Shorten (Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children's Services), The way forward: a National Disability Strategy, Budget 2008 09, media release, 13 May 2008, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
Folder=pressrel&Criteria=CITATION_ID:AEFQ6%3B
, accessed on 15 May 2008 and Australian Government, Part 2: Expense Measures , Budget Paper no. 2: Budget Measures 2008 09, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2008, p. 170.

[169]. Budget Paper no. 2, op. cit., p. 175.

[170]. J. Macklin (Minister for Families Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) and B. Shorten (Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children's Services), Employment support for people with a disability, Budget 2008 09, media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 13 May 2008,

http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
Folder=pressrel&Criteria=CITATION_ID:WEFQ6
; accessed on 15 May 2008.

[171]. J. Macklin (Minister for Families Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) and B. Shorten (Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children's Services), Supporting children with autism, media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 10 May 2008, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
Folder=pressrel&Criteria=CITATION_ID:6CEQ6
; accessed on 15 May 2008.

[172]. Carer Payment (child): A New Approach Report of the Carer Payment (child) Review Taskforce, 8 February 2008, http://www.facs.gov.au/internet/facsinternet.nsf/disabilities/carers-review_carer.htm, accessed on 16 May 2008.

[173]. Carer Payment (child): A New Approach Report of the Carer Payment (child) Review Taskforce, Executive Summary, 8 February 2008, http://www.facs.gov.au/carers/carer_payment_review_report/, accessed on 16 May 2008.

[174]. ibid.

[175]. For the present eligibility requirements see Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Guide to Social Security Law, version 1.136, 5 May 2008, Section 1.1.C.146, Child with a Profound Disability (CP (child)) ,
http://www.facs.gov.au/guides_acts/ssg/ssguide-1/ssguide-1.1/ssguide-1.1.c/ssguide-1.1.c.146.html
, accessed on 16 May 2008.

[176]. For more information see the Budget Review 2007 08, Research Brief, no. 12, Parliamentary Library, 21 May 2007, http://www.aph.gov.au/Library/pubs/RB/BudgetReview/IncomeSupport_FamAssist.htm, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[177]. See for example D. Shanahan, How a pensioner put Canberra on the run , The Australian 14 March 2008, http://parlinfoweb.parl.net/parlinfo/view_document.aspx?id=1439333&table=PRESSCLP, accessed on 16 May 2008.

[178]. For commentary on the Budget from Carers Australia see Carers Australia, Little support for the hardest working families of all, media release, 13 May 2008, http://www.carersaustralia.com.au/images/stories/20080513%20-%20Little%
20support%20for%20the%20hardest%20working%20families%20of%20all.pdf
, accessed on 16 May 2008.

[179]. House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family, Community, Housing and Youth, Better care for our carers: a new parliamentary inquiry announced, media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 14 May 2008,
http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/fchy/carers/index.htm, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[180]. Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, The Future of Employment Services in Australia, Discussion Paper Fact Sheet, 13 May 2008, http://www.deewr.gov.au/deewr/Publications/Budget/2008-09/, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[181]. Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, The Future of Employment Services in Australia: A Discussion Paper, May 2008, http://www.workplace.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/002400C9-E034-4C88-90D1-ABB7F3C590EF/0/DiscussionPaperWEB.pdf, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[182]. For a brief review and critique of the Job Network see M. Thomas,
A review of developments in the Job Network , Research Paper, no. 15, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2007 08.

[183]. Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, The Future of Employment Services in Australia, Discussion Paper Fact Sheet, op. cit.

[184]. Australian Government, Portfolio Budget Statements 2007 08: Budget related paper No. 1.6, Employment and Workplace Relations portfolio, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2007,
http://www.dewr.gov.au/dewr/Publications/Budget/2007-08/DEWR/Section3-Agencyoutcomes.htm
, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[185]. Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, The Future of Employment Services in Australia: A Discussion Paper, op. cit.

[186]. ibid.

[187]. ibid.

[188]. See, for example, P. Temby, G. Housakos and S. Ziguras, Helping Local People Get Jobs: Insights from the Brotherhood of St Laurence Experience in Fitzroy and Collingwood, Brotherhood of St Laurence, Fitzroy, Vic., 2004, p. 2,
http://www.bsl.org.au/pdfs/Helping_local_people_get_jobs_paper.pdf , accessed on 19 May 2008.

[189]. Council of Australian Governments, Meeting Outcome, 20 December 2007,
http://www.coag.gov.au/meetings/201207/index.htm, accessed on 18 May 2008.

[190]. K. Rudd (Prime Minister), Apology to Australia s Indigenous Peoples, media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 13 February 2008,
http://www.pm.gov.au/media/Speech/2008/speech_0073.cfm, accessed on 16 May 2008.

[191]. Indigenous Health Equality Summit, Statement of Intent,: Close the Gap, Canberra, 20 March 2008,
http://www.hreoc.gov.au/Social_Justice/health/statement_intent.pdf
, accessed on 16 May 2008 and J. Macklin (Minister for Families, Housing and Community Services), Closing the Gap for Indigenous Australians, media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 13 May 2008, http://www.facs.gov.au/budget/ministerial_statement/, accessed on 18 May 2008.

[192]. John Gardiner-Garden, Indigenous socioeconomic indicators, Background Note, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 11 February 2008, http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/BN/
2007-08/Indigenous_socioeconomic_indicators.htm
, accessed on 16 May 2008.

[193]. Australian Government, Budget Paper No. 2: Budget Measures 2008 09, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2008 and Australian Government, Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, 2008 09 Indigenous Budget at a Glance, http://www.facs.gov.au/internet/facsinternet.nsf/
aboutfacs/budget/budget2008-08_indigenous_at_a_glance.htm
, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[194]. The links provided in the text are to various Family and Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
Indigenous Budget Fact Sheets
indexed at
http://www.facs.gov.au/internet/facsinternet.nsf/aboutfacs/budget/
budget2008-08_indig_factsheets.htm
accessed on 19 May 2008.

[195]. J. Macklin (Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs), Closing the Education Gap between Indigenous and Non Indigenous Australians, media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 13 May 2008,
http://www.jennymacklin.fahcsia.gov.au/internet/jennymacklin.nsf/
content/budget08_i-education_13may08.htm
, accessed on 16 May 2008.

[196]. J. Ludwig (Minister for Human Services) and J. Macklin (Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs), Debit Card to Improve Income Management, media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 13 May 2008.
http://www.humanservices.gov.au/dhs/media/media-releases/2008/may/
080513-joint-release-debit-card-to-improve-income-mgmt.html
, accessed on 16 May 2008.

[197]. J. Macklin (Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) and N. Roxon (Minister for Health and Ageing), Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health, media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 13 May 2008,
http://www.jennymacklin.fahcsia.gov.au/internet/
jennymacklin.nsf/content/budget08_i-health_13may08.htm
, accessed on 16 May 2008.

[198]. ibid.

[199]. C. Evans (Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Record skilled migration program to boost economy, media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 13 May 2008.
http://parlinfoweb.parl.net/parlinfo/Repository1/Library/Jrnart/3ODQ61.pdf, accessed on 21 May 2008.

[200]. Australian Government, Budget Paper No.2: Budget Measures, 2008 09, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2008, p. 4 and p. 257.

[201]. Evans, op. cit.

[202]. Access Economics, 2004 Update of the Migrants Fiscal Impact Model, report for Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA), 9 July 2004,
http://www.immi.gov.au/media/publications/pdf/migrants-fiscal-impact-july-2004.pdf, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[203]. B. Birrell and E. Healy, How are Skilled Migrants Doing? , People and Place, vol. 16, no. 1, 2008, p. 1, http://parlinfoweb.parl.net/parlinfo/Repository1/Library/Jrnart/3ODQ61.pdf, accessed on 21 May 2008.

[204]. P. Kelly, Open Door , The Australian, 17 May 2008,
http://parlinfoweb.parl.net/parlinfo/Repository1/Media/npaper_3/ISGQ60.pdf, accessed on 21 May 2008.

[205]. Australian Government, Portfolio Budget Statements 2008 09, Budget related Paper No. 1.12, Immigration and Citizenship portfolio, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2008, p. 20.

[206]. T. Burke, Labor will teach English, not just test it , Fact sheet, 31 July 2007,
http://www.alp.org.au/media/0707/msicit310.php
, accessed on 21 May 2008.

[207]. Australian National Audit Office, Management of the Adult Migrant English Program Contracts, ANAO, Canberra, 2001, http://www.anao.gov.au/uploads/documents/2000-01_Audit_Report_40.pdf, accessed on 21 May 2008.

[208]. C. Evans (Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Rudd Government scraps Temporary Protection visas, media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 13 May 2008,
http://parlinfoweb.parl.net/parlinfo/Repository1/Media/pressrel/4JGQ60.pdf, accessed on 21 May 2008.

[209]. C. Ellison (Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship), Immigration Minister sends a welcome message to people smugglers, media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 15 May 2008, http://parlinfoweb.parl.net/parlinfo/Repository1/Media/pressrel/BNGQ60.pdf, accessed on 21 May 2008.

[210]. S. Conroy (Shadow Minister for Communications and Information Technology), Labor s Plan for Cyber-safety, http://www.alp.org.au/download/now/labors_plan_for_cyber_safety.pdf, accessed on 12 May 2008.

[211]. ibid.

[212]. S. Conroy (Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy), Consultative working group to improve cyber safety, media release, Parliament House, Canberra, 15 May 2008,
http://www.minister.dbcde.gov.au/media/media_releases/2008/035, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[213]. Labor s Plan for Cyber-safety, op. cit.

[214]. It is expected that funding will largely occur in 2009‑10. New providers will be eligible for the funding in following years, however.

[215]. B. McMenamin, Filters needed to battle child porn , The Australian, 8 January, 2008.

[216]. P. Sweeney, ISP content filtering still on the agenda , Whirlpool, 13 May 2008, http://whirlpool.net.au/, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[217]. Electronic Frontiers Australia, EFA decries money wasted on Internet filtering , Electronic Frontiers Australia website, 15 May 2008, http://www.efa.org.au/2008/05/15/efa-decries-money-wasted-on-internet-filtering/, accessed on 15 May 2008. Note the government awarded a contract for a laboratory test of internet filters to the Enex TestLab in January 2008. Enex is currently conducting trials in conjunction with ACMA.

[218]. Flawed plan for internet control , The Canberra Times, 3 January 2008,
http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?Folder=
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[219]. A. Kohler, Digital dallying , Business Spectator, 27 March 2008,
http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/Digital-dallying-D4QTR?OpenDocument, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[220]. ibid.

[221]. See J. Gardiner-Garden and P. Pyburne, National Film and Sound Archive Bill 2008 , Bills Digest, no. 77, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2007 2008, http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/bd/2007-08/08bd077.pdf, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[222]. See J. Gardiner-Garden and J. Tomaras, Screen Australia Bill 2008 , Bills Digest, no.84 Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2007 2008, http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/bd/2007-08/08bd084.pdf, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[223] P. Garrett (Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts),
Securing the future for Australian screen industry
, media release, 13 May 2008,
http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/garrett/2008/pubs/budmr20080513g.pdf, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[224]. For example, the Australian Copyright Council report, The Art Resale Royalty & Its Implications For Australia, February 1989; the
Our Culture Our Future: A Report On Australian Indigenous Cultural And Intellectual Property Rights
, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, Canberra, September 1999; the report of the Contemporary Visual Arts & Craft Inquiry ( The Meyer Report ), Commonwealth Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Canberra, 2002; and D. Throsby & V. Hollister,
Don t Give Up Your Day Job: an economic study of professional artists in Australia, Australia Council, Sydney, 2003.

[225]. Access Economics, Evaluating the impact of an Australian resale royalty on eligible visual artists, 2004, http://www.dbcde.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/16026/Viscopy_Access_Economics.pdf, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[226]. P. Garrett (Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts),
Resale royalty rights for Australia's visual artists
,
media release, 13 May 2008,
http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/garrett/2008/pubs/budmr20080513i.pdf, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[227]. ibid.

[228]. P. Garrett (Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts),
New initiatives for a creative Australia
, media release, 13 May 2008,
http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/garrett/2008/pubs/budmr20080513h.pdf
, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[229]. R. Pascoe et al., National Review of school music education, Department of Education, Science and Training, Canberra, 2005, http://www.dest.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/
C9AFAE54-6D72-44CC-A346-3CAF235CB268/8944/
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[230]. (U.K.) Department for Children, Schools and Families, Every primary school to become a musical school press notice, 21 November 2007, http://www.dfes.gov.uk/pns/DisplayPN.cgi?pn_id=2007_0216

[231]. Australian Labor Party, Fresh ideas for the arts , Election 07 fact sheet,
http://www.petergarrett.com.au/resources/1/pdfs/creativecommunities.pdf, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[232]. Australia Council, Community Partnerships scoping study: creative communities, 2006, http://www.australiacouncil.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/1882/cp_scoping_study.pdf, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[233]. See the AMRAP page on the Community Broadcasting Foundation web-site:
http://www.cbf.com.au/Content/templates/cbf_funded_projects.asp?articleid=17&zoneid=6

[234]. P. Garrett, New directions for the arts: supporting a vibrant and diverse Australian arts sector, Australian Labor Party, 2007, http://www.alp.org.au/download/now/new_directions_for_the_arts.pdf, accessed on 19 May 2008.

[235]. S. Mascord and J. Geddes, Rugby codes reel it as Rudd slashes funding , Heraldsun.com.au, 7 February 2008, http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,23171967-11809,00.html, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[236]. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), in 2005 06 of all sports and physical recreation undertaken in an organised capacity, the activity most commonly participated in by Australians 15 years and over, was aerobics/fitness. Netball was the next most popular organised sport followed by tennis and soccer (outdoor). For more detail see the ABS website paper, Participation in sports and physical recreation, Australia 2005 06, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/
Latestproducts/4177.0Main%20Features22005-06?
opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=4177.0
&issue=2005-06&num=&view
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[237]. See AIS current sports grants,
http://www.ausport.gov.au/__
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[238]. R. Beeby, Poor showing for science , Canberra Times, 15 May 2008, http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/TranslateWIPILink.aspx?
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, accessed on 15 May 2008.

[239]. See World Health Organisation, Health and development through physical activity and sport, 2003, http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/2003/WHO_NMH_NPH_PAH_03.2.pdf, accessed on 15 May 2008.

 

 


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