10 May 2023

National institutions score $90 million budget boost

| Andrew McLaughlin
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National Library of Australia

The National Library of Australia was one of the big winners in last night’s budget. Photo: James Coleman.

Tuesday’s federal budget has seen funding of $535 million allocated to secure and restore some of Australia’s cultural and historical institutions, many of which are located in Canberra.

A quick review of the Portfolio Budget Statement for 2023-24 shows the following institutions will receive government funding boosts of between four and nearly 50 per cent this year over that allocated in 2022-23, including:

  • National Archives of Australia – $116,953,000 to $122,420,000
  • National Capital Authority – $23,920,000 to $26,403,000
  • National Film & Sound Archive of Australia – $39,207,000 to $47,853,000
  • National Gallery of Australia – $65,088,000 to $93,821,000
  • National Library of Australia – $72,540,000 to $94,741,000
  • National Museum of Australia – $54,860,000 to $62,606,000
  • National Portrait Gallery of Australia – $12,809,000 to $18,853,000
  • Old Parliament House – $19,384,000 to $27,774,000.

In total, these eight institutions alone will see an additional $89.71 million in government funding allocated to them.

An additional $60 million has been allocated to Questacon to carry out what the government calls critical property upgrades, while the budget re-affirmed the government’s April announcement that it would secure the future of the National Library’s Trove digital archive repository to the tune of $33 million.

The budget also saw a continuation of Labor’s commitment to rebuild the Australian Public Service after what it says was “10 years of neglect under the former Coalition government”.

To this end, the budget has allocated $10.9 million to establish an in-house consulting function and $8.4 million to address what it calls APS-wide “challenges”, including improving the gender impact analysis in policy, raising First Nations cultural competency, promoting cultural and linguistic diversity, and developing deeper knowledge and networks in Asia and the Pacific region.

An additional $3.4 million has also been allocated to support a commitment to achieve 5 per cent First Nations employment in the APS by 2030.

READ ALSO Federal Budget delivers surplus, cost-of-living relief and more public servants

The budget will also deliver some relief from cost-of-living pressures to ACT households. Finance Minister Senator Katy Gallagher said the initiatives showed the government’s commitment to Canberra and the ACT community.

“The budget details investments ranging from infrastructure funding for our treasured national institutions to cost-of-living relief for Canberrans that need an extra helping hand during this challenging period,” she said in a 10 May statement.

Senator Gallagher also said that more than 56,000 households and 17,000 small businesses will be eligible for Energy Price Relief Rebates from 1 July, and more than 157,000 ACT residents will be eligible for cheaper visits to the GP through the government’s bulk-billing incentive announcement.

But at a budget breakfast meeting in Parliament House on Wednesday, Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley said small business owners in Canberra would find little joy in the budget.

“I can tell you that businesses are hurting. Alarm bells are ringing,” Ms Ley said.

“This is the government taking Canberra for granted,” she added, lamenting that, “unlike for Tasmania”, there was no federal money for Canberra Stadium.

READ ALSO Coalition relied on a “shadow workforce” in the APS, audit finds

In a separate statement, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the budget “delivers for Canberrans and people around the country” by “addressing immediate cost-of-living pressures while laying the foundations for ongoing economic prosperity and improving outcomes”.

He said the $11.3 billion allocated over four years to fund the Fair Work Commission’s interim decision for a 15 per cent increase to minimum wages for aged care workers would support about 5040 award aged care workers in the ACT.

He also welcomed the 15 per cent increase in Commonwealth Rent Assistance which will support around 7700 recipients in the ACT, and the joint Energy Price Relief Rebates in conjunction with the ACT government.

“The delivery of the targets and objectives set out in the National Housing Accord is critical to addressing housing affordability,” he said.

“We look forward to finalising with the Commonwealth Government the ACT Implementation Schedule under the Housing Accord to increase housing supply, affordability and choice in Canberra.

“Delivered in partnership between the Commonwealth and ACT Government from 1 July, eligible ACT households will receive a $175 annual energy rebate on their power bills,” he said, adding that ACT households and businesses will also benefit from the ACT’s Large-scale Feed-in Tariff Scheme.

ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury wasn’t as enthusiastic about the budget, saying it will “further entrench the inequalities caused by successive Liberal and Labor Governments”.

“This is not just a cost-of-living crisis, this is an inequality crisis that successive Federal Governments have created through policies that consistently favour the rich over everyone else, and last night was no different.”

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Luckily at least some money is allocated to our National Institutions such as The National Library 🙂 However, Canberrans are missing out on getting the gutters cleaned of all the stupid leaves that are clogging up the waterways and creating BLUE GREEN Algae! I do realise that trees are important but the leaves cause issues that are dangerous to anyone swimming in the lakes; especially Burley Griffin.!

The Federal govt is responsible for the national institutions (hence the allocation in the Federal budget), but, it is not responsible for maintenance of the gutters in the streets of Canberra – and hasn’t been since 1988.

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