16 May 2024

Federal Budget: Canberra benefits from budget and national institutions see incremental funding increases

| Andrew McLaughlin
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National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery will receive an extra $500,000 annually over the forward estimates. Photo: Michelle Kroll

Canberra has been a definite winner from the Federal Budget, with an injection of almost $250 million to revitalise the AIS facilities in Bruce and a further $10 million to fund masterplans for the area.

Infrastructure investments in the Albanese Government’s Budget also include $50 million to design stage 2B of the transformative light rail project, extending the line from Commonwealth Park to Woden.

A total of $900,000 is committed for the planning stage of the Belconnen Transitway and Gungahlin District Road Improvements and Molonglo East-West Arterial, and $27.1 million in additional funding for the William Hovell Drive Duplication project.

The first TAFE Electric Vehicle Centre of Excellence at CIT Fyshwick is funded to the tune of $9.7 million, matching a contribution from the ACT Government.

A share of the $100 million Active Transport Fund will upgrade and deliver new bicycle and walking paths to support zero-emissions travel.

Finance Minister Katy Gallagher said the Federal Government values Canberra’s role as the national capital and is “making the investments in the 2024-25 Budget to roll out transformative projects and upgrade local infrastructure that will support our growing city to thrive”.

Canberra’s national institutions have all seen small but incremental funding increases in the 2024-25 Federal Budget for the next four years.

In 2023-24, the National Archives cost $108.2 million to run. In 2024-25, a slight increase in funding will be offset by an anticipated drop in unappropriated expenses, resulting in a marginal reduction in overall costs.

A more significant reduction in expenses of about $8 million is forecast for 2025-26, mainly because of an increase in the amount of the Archives’ current at-risk analogue collection being increasingly digitised.

Smaller incremental funding increases and greater efficiencies are forecast for the remainder of the forward estimates as the Archives achieves higher levels of engagement with agencies regarding the transfer of archival records.

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The National Film and Sound Archive will see an increase of about $2 million in expenses to $46.6 million in 2024-25 to build the national audio-visual collection by incorporating 16,800 items.

The budget will drop to $44.9 million in 2025-26 before returning to current levels by 2027-28.

The Australian National Gallery will see a funding increase of more than $4 million to $106.9 million.

The National Library of Australia is expected to maintain a constant total expenses budget of about $99 million in 2024-25 and over the next four years.

A $2 million increase in government funding for the National Museum of Australia in 2024-25 will be offset by a reduction in revenue from other independent sources, resulting in expenses staying at about $67.4 million next year.

Over the next four years, government funding will increase marginally while revenue from other independent sources stays constant. Total expenses are forecast to be $71.5 million by 2027-28, at which time total visitor engagements are expected to top eight million for the first time.

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The National Portrait Gallery’s budget will increase by about half a million dollars each year over the forward estimates, from total expenses of $23.1 million in 2023-24 to a forecast total of $25.4 million in 2027-28.

A spike in unspecified non-appropriated expenses saw Old Parliament House’s total expenses reach $31.4 million on funding of $21.7 million in 2023-24, but the Budget anticipates total expenses to drop to $28.5 million in 2024-25 despite an increase in funding to $22.9 million.

Incremental funding increases of about $500,000 per year over the forward estimates mean the total expenses will rise by a similar amount to $31.3 million in 2027-28.

The National Capital Authority – the manager of the National Capital Estate in Canberra on behalf of the Australian Government – will see federal funding for National Capital functions remain constant at between $10.3 million and $10.6 million from 2024-25 through the forward estimates, and between $51.2 million and $53.7 million for the National Capital Estate over the same period.

The government is also investing $4.1 million over four years to ensure the much-loved Canberra Symphony Orchestra continues to, in Senator Gallagher’s words, wow audiences well into the future.

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Great to see, despite the Menzies vision the Coalition clearly hated the ACT and its Capital City role. Great to have some vision back in Government that is backed up by action.

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