On Tuesday night Australia’s treasurer Jim Chalmers released the nation’s Budget for 2023–2024. I’ve gone though it to find things related to the digital and cyber realms, plus a few other items that caught my eye. This is a loooooong post!
All the Budget papers are at budget.gov.au, but the one I always hit first is Budget Paper No. 2. This lists and explains all the individual “budget measure”s, which are the changes to every line item since the previous Budget or now-usual Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO).
Programmers, think of Budget Paper No. 2 as a set of diffs, with copious comments.
This means the Budget papers can be hard to read. A line item of $50 million means that that the new figure is $50 million, plus whatever was listed last time. And that in turn is in addition to whatever happened the time before that.
In today’s case that’s since Budget October 2022–2023.
However if you want to see the consolidated resourcing and expenditure totals, there’s a separate document for every government agency on the individual agency websites.
Another trap for young players is the phrase “over forward estimates”, which means “spread over the next three financial years”. That, of course, means three full Budgets from now and well into the next election cycle, so it might all change anyway.
What I tweeted on Tuesday night
This is an edited version of my Twitter thread, including some important updates.
The Passenger Movement Charge increases from 1 July 2024 by $10 from $60 to $70 per passenger, something for international travellers. Some news outlets bleated about holidays becoming more expensive, but seriously it’s just ten bucks.
“The Government will encourage smokers to quit by increasing tobacco excise and excise-equivalent customs duty by 5 per cent per year for 3 years from 1 September 2023, in addition to ordinary indexation,”plus other changes. #CigsUp
An extra two years of post-study work rights to international higher education graduates of Australian institutions with eligible qualifications to strengthen the pipeline of skilled labour. This measure will apply from 1 July 2023.
$25.8 million over 4 years from 2023–24 (and $8.1 million per year ongoing) to bolster oversight of National Intelligence Community agencies… The cost of this measure will be met from within the existing resourcing of the National Intelligence Community agencies.
A variety of extra oversight capabilities, including an Inspector of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, presumably to watch the Commissioner.
Going back to the “traps for young players” thing, something the Morrison government did to make the forward estimates look good was to just stop funding a whole pile of stuff after 30 June 2023. The Albanese government has had to explicitly turn the tap back on.
$26.9 million in 2023–24 to sustain and develop the next stage of the Digital ID program… The cost of this measure will be partially met from within the existing resourcing of the Digital Transformation Authority (DTA).
Note that all the new funding goes to Finance, which is is the senior organisation. Does this mean the DTA is being sidelined?
MOAR CYBERZ! (Mostly just rearranging things we already knew about. But also CYBER WARDENS! That’s about funding the Cyber Wardens program.
MOAR ONLINE SAFETY! On Tuesday night I said this was mostly just shuffling existing money, but I was wrong. Combine this with the anti-scam and cybersecurity stuff below and the totals are something like four time what they are now.
So shame are now content to be regulated by ACMA, as well as consumer issues to be monitored by The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) through Scamwatch, as well as fraudulent corporate practices be noticed by The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), and the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s ReportCyber, and The Australian Federal Police because they’re crimes, and the state police forces because they’re crimes. Surely that’s already enough agencies?
Back in 2021 Labor floated the idea of a scambuster minister, but let’s hope that’s been dumped.
We’re getting a standalone Privacy Commissioner again, and some funding to catch up the backlog — although it fades out as the years go by.
I think I’m starting to lose it, sorry.
MOAR SCAMZ! No, less of them. Fighting the scams and spams coming through the portal! (That’s an historic reference. If you know you know.)
What I missed
When I checked the news on Wednesday morning I realised I’d missed a few relevant items:
- Australia’s overseas spy agency ASIS will get $468.8m to modernise, although we don’t know exactly how.
- My Health Record gets $429m for technology upgrade, but we already knew about that.
- “The Albanese government has unveiled industry support programs for artificial intelligence and quantum technologies, allocating $101 million over five years in a new critical technologies package that includes a national challenge program and an Australian Centre for Quantum Growth.”
- And finally, The Mandarin lists The Budget spending you’re not allowed to know about.
While we’re here…
Here’s what I noticed more generally since the previous edition on 5 May:
- We have two new agencies to oversee the AUKUS submarines, the Australian Submarine Agency and the new Australian Nuclear-Powered Submarine Safety Regulator, both of which will report directly to the defence minister.
- “The vast majority of a huge $21 billion ‘secret’ and ‘shadow’ workforce of 54,000 used to understate Australian Public Service headcount numbers are simply IT contractors unwilling to take public service salaries at least $100,000 per year below current market rates,” reports The Mandarin.
- This data was from the Audit of Employment within the Australian Public Service (PDF) released by the Department of Finance.
- Defence is on notice to beef-up its cybersecurity efforts.
- And while I’ve linked to a couple of these stories previously, I should mention that The Mandarin has a 2023 Defence Strategic Review Special Report.
Please let me know if I’ve missed anything, or if there’s any specific items you’d like me to follow.
I’ll skip this week’s Friday post. The next edition will be on Friday 19 May 2023.
[Photo: Treasurer Jim Chalmers delivering Budget 2023 in Tuesday night.]