Media arts and sport

Budget Review 2021–22 Index

Dr Philip Dearman

A summary of funding allocated for media, arts and sporting industries is outlined in Budget Strategy and Outlook: Budget Paper No. 1: 2021–22, under the ‘recreation and culture’ function, against the ‘sub-functions’ of broadcasting, arts and cultural heritage, and sport and recreation (p. 180).

Table 1 shows that combined funding for these industries in the 2021–22 Budget is close to that provided in the 2020–21 Budget. At just under $4 billion, the Government is providing a nominal increase of $160 million on the previous year—mainly due to further support for arts and cultural production—or 0.2% when adjusted for inflation.

Table 1: summary of expenses for broadcasting, arts and cultural heritage, and sport and recreation, $ million
















Arts and cultural heritage






Sport and recreation












Source: Australian Government, Budget strategy and outlook: budget paper no. 1, 2021–22, p. 180.


Already challenged by the disruptions caused by digital platforms, the media, arts and sport were hit hard by the social distancing measures introduced at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sporting codes were disrupted, live events cancelled, and galleries and museums forced to close. While many venues and services subsequently reopened, the challenges for workplaces—many of which relied on highly casualised workforces—were compounded by subsequent unpredictable snap lockdowns. Measures in the 2020–21 Budget provided some assistance for stakeholders, but were not always wholeheartedly welcomed. One commentator, for example, described funding for arts and culture in last year’s Budget as ‘a pimple to a pumpkin compared to what’s going into the economy as a whole’ (p. 4).

Concerns about funding for the arts and culture had been sharpened just prior to the pandemic, with a report by thinktank A New Approach describing in some detail the long-term decline in federal funding for artistic, cultural and creative activity in Australia. The focus of interest for many in the sporting industry pre-pandemic was on the Government’s administration of sports grants.

Broadcasting and media

While Table 1 indicates a small increase in funding for broadcasting (which includes both public and community broadcasters) for 2021–22 and over the forward estimates, Budget Paper No. 1 states that in real terms funding will decrease by 0.8% from 2020–21 to 2021–22, and by a further 6% from 2021–22 to 2024–25 (p. 180).

The Portfolio Budget Statements 2021–22: Budget Related Paper No. 110: Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications Portfolio indicates the Australian Broadcasting Corporation will receive an increase of $4.7 million in 2021–22, and an increase of $20.5 million across the forward estimates from 2021–22 to 2024–25 (p. 131). There is no explanation in the budget papers for this but the figures should probably be read as indicative given the ABC is funded on a triennial basis, and its next agreement is scheduled to be negotiated during 2022 (Budget Review 2018–19, p. 113).

The Special Broadcasting Service will receive an increase of $13 million in 2021–22 (Portfolio Budget Statements, p. 489). This includes $10.5 million for an extension of language services, which have also been allocated additional funding across the forward estimates—$9.2 million in 2022–23 and $9.4  million in 2023–24 (Budget Measures: Budget Paper No. 2: 2021–22, p. 161). This will be helpful in meeting the stated performance targets for SBS television (28,000 hours of culturally and linguistically diverse programming on all linear channels) and SBS radio (90% of all broadcasts in languages other than English).

The community broadcasting sector, which is funded through grant monies channelled through the Community Broadcasting Foundation, will receive top-up funding of $8 million over two years. The measure is in addition to a minor increase in the annual allocations for 2021–22 and 2022–23. (Portfolio Budget Statements, p. 72). The Community Broadcasting Association of Australia argued in its budget submission for an annual increase of $5.3 million, ongoing and indexed to the CPI; however the forward estimates indicate annual funding reverting to $16.6 million from 2023–24.

The minister’s media release suggested the additional funding is in recognition of the contribution community broadcasters made during the 2019–20 Black Summer bushfires, and continue to make during the COVID-19 pandemic. A budget ‘explainer’ published by the Community Broadcasting Foundation in April 2021 indicated it had sought additional funding to ‘upgrade aging [sic] infrastructure’ and also ‘support increased capacity and create employment opportunities after the economic effects of drought, natural disasters and COVID-19’.

A further $15 million has been allocated from the Public Interest News Gathering Fund to support the news agency Australian Associated Press, which adds to the $5 million it received in September 2020 under the same program. Previously Australia’s only newswire service, AAP was expected to close in March 2020 when its main shareholders News Corp Australia and Nine Entertainment withdrew their funding, arguing the 85-year-old institution was not sustainable. This new funding will help stabilise the AAP, now reconstituted as a not-for-profit company, as it faces the possibility of competition from NCA Newswire, an in-house breaking news service developed by News Corp.

Three further media-related support measures were announced in the Budget:

Arts and cultural institutions

A package of $222.9 million has been allocated to continue to support the arts sector in navigating the impacts of COVID-19. A key measure is an allocation of $125.6 million to extend the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand Fund, from $75 million to $200 million. That fund was first announced in June 2020 as one element of a $250 million Jobmaker package of targeted support for the arts sector. The extension, announced in March 2021, includes new guidelines—a reduction in the minimum grant size from $75,000 to $25,000, and the option for multiple parties involved in significant productions to apply—which the Government hopes will spread the benefit of the fund further, including to the music sector.

Funding of $50.8 million will extend the Temporary Interruption Fund, which supports local screen producers in circumstances where new productions have been halted by insurers not providing coverage for COVID-19. An original allocation of $50 million was first announced in June 2020 for the program. The new funding, announced in April 2021, will provide coverage for productions that commence principal photography prior to 31 December 2021.

Some of Australia’s national museums, libraries and galleries, often referred to as the ‘national collecting institutions’, have been allocated an additional $85.4 million over four years to assist with what Budget Paper No. 2 describes as ‘enhancements’ (p. 162). The measure includes $47.5 million for a variety of capital works, including:

  • safety improvements at the Australian National Maritime Museum
  • restoration of the Bundanon Homestead and repairs to the Boyd Education Centre
  • work towards completion of a backlog of capital works to replace end-of-life capital assets at the National Gallery of Australia
  • refurbishment of the House of Representatives Chamber at Old Parliament House and
  • support for the replacement of the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning system at the National Library of Australia.

A media release issued by the minister just prior to the Budget stated the measure ‘builds on the Government’s annual investment in the National Collecting Institutions of more than $250 million in 2020–21’.

Funding for these institutions has received considerable attention in recent years. The Report on the Inquiry into Canberra’s National Institutions, tabled by the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories in April 2019, acknowledged the ‘disproportionate and cumulative impact’ of the efficiency dividend on the services provided by many of the institutions, and recommended the Government consider ‘setting a threshold amount for institutions’ annual expenditure below which the efficiency dividend would be excluded or reduced’ (p. xix).

Table 2 presents a snapshot of funding provided by the Government to the various agencies in the current and previous Budgets, and across the forward estimates.


Table 2: revenue from Government for Australia’s national collecting institutions, $ million










Australian National Maritime Museum






Australian War Memorial






Museum of Australian Democracy






National Archives of Australia






National Film and Sound Archive






National Gallery of Australia






National Library of Australia






National Museum of Australia






National Portrait Gallery of Australia






Source: Budgeted financial statements in: Portfolio Budget Statements 2021–22: Budget Related Paper No. 1.2: Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications Portfolio; Portfolio Budget Statements 2021–22: Budget Related Paper No. 1.2: Attorney-General’s Portfolio; Portfolio Budget Statements 2021–22: Budget Related Paper No. 1.11: Prime Minister and Cabinet Portfolio; Portfolio Budget Statements 2021–22: Budget Related Paper No. 1.3B: Defence Portfolio

The National Archives of Australia, which is funded through the Attorney-General’s Department, did not share in the ‘enhancements’ package for the National Collecting Institutions outlined in the budget papers, and Portfolio Budget Statements 2021–22: Budget Related Paper No. 1.2: Attorney-General's Portfolio indicates no change in its allocated funding for 2021–22, or across the forward estimates (p. 278).

A review of the NAA by former Secretary of the Department of Finance, David Tune, which was completed in early 2020 and released in March 2021 (Estimates, p. 16), pointed to the challenges it faces in fulfilling its role in securing, preserving and making public the archival resources of the Commonwealth. The review recommended a seven-year project, costing $67.7 million, to save most high-priority ‘at-risk’ records (p. 13).

Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General Senator, Amanda Stoker, has stated that the Government is still considering its response to David Tune’s report, describing some aspects of the report as ‘revolutionary’. She commented further that their implementation would require ‘an enormous financial investment and a significant reorganisation of the way information is stored and used in government’ (Estimates, p. 17). Senator Stoker noted that the fragility of the Archives’ deteriorating resources is a matter ‘that the government is quite concerned to act upon, and that is front of mind in our action’ (p. 20).


Budget Paper No. 1 indicates that overall funding for sport and recreation will decrease by 13.3% in real terms from 2020–21 to 2021–22, and then decrease again by 42% in real terms from 2021–22 to 2024–25 (p. 181). The first tranche is described as ‘a cessation in short-term funding for sport’, and the second as reflecting ‘the expected completion of grant funding for short-term community-led projects to increase participation in sport and physical activity, and the further completion of elements of the national sport plan, Sport 2030’.

In summary, $243.2 million is being provided over four years from 2020–21.

Notable measures include:

  • $82.2 million to extend the Athlete Performance Pathways program
  • $50.6 million for high performance programs in Olympic and Paralympic sports
  • $40.8 million for the Sporting Schools program
  • $27.3 million to extend anti-doping and sports-betting activities
  • $12.2 million to prevent drowning and injury from water and snow-related sport and
  • $12 million for women’s football ahead of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023, and $5 million to support the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022, to accredit more women as coaches and officials and encourage Indigenous women to get involved in basketball.

See also the Library Budget Review Brief on the Brisbane Olympics 2032.