Regional Outputs and Programmes

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Report on Performance

Overview

One third of Australians and two thirds of our export income come from regional, rural and remote Australia. Our national prosperity depends significantly on the strength of our regions, now and into the future.

Regional areas face social and economic change as a result of increasing competition from globalisation, ongoing population shifts and natural disasters. Partnership is the key to helping regions face these challenges, grow and diversify.

What we do

In 2004-05 the department contributed to the well-being of all Australians by assisting regions to manage their own futures. Amongst other things, we delivered:

  • advice to the Australian Government on regional issues ranging from national water policy (page 116) through to localised issues such as the performance of, and appointments to, the National Capital Authority (NCA)
  • grants for community development initiatives in regional, rural and remote Australia- about one quarter of all public and private funding earmarked for such projects (page 116)
  • roughly nine per cent of funding for Australia's 700 or so local governments (page 142)-this is on top of what the government already provides under the Roads to Recovery Programme (page 66), and
  • health, education, water and other vital services to the 2700 people who live in Australia's nonself-governing territories, often through the WA, ACT and NSW governments (page 132 and 135), and
  • between 33 and 75 per cent of public funding for natural disaster mitigation and relief works and research, in partnership with other governments and Geoscience Australia (page 144).

What this chapter covers

This chapter reports on the regional outputs and programmes the department was funded to deliver in 2004-05. It:

  • sets out the annual financial and other targets we published in our 2005-06 Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS)¹
  • explains our actual results in 2004-05 and compares them with previous years' results where applicable
  • discusses factors that may be affecting or are likely to affect our results, and
  • summarises progress towards achievement of the indicators nominated for each output and programme using the following ratings
    fully achieved mostly achieved partly achieved not achieved

As part of delivering our outputs and programmes, we also work towards specific priorities. Our performance against regional and other priorities is discussed in Chapter 2 (page 26).

Table 4.1 - Regional outputs and programmes in 2004-05

Budget
2004-05a
$,000
Actual
2004-05
$,000
Varianceb
Rating
More info
Output 2.1.1 - Regional Services
41 436
35 977
-13.2%
Administered programmes
Construction of the Bert Hinkler Hall of Aviation Museumc
-
-
-
Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal
260
187
-28.1%
Regional and Rural Research Info and Data
68
66
-2.9%
Regional and Rural Development Grants
160
160
-
Regional Partnerships
103 431
94 967
-8.2%
Remote Air Services Subsidy Scheme
3 267
2 698
-19.8%
Sustainable Regions
33 444
22 609
-32.4%
Output 2.2.1 - Services to Territories
17 727
18 466
4.2%
Administered programmes
Norfolk Island - Refurbishment of Kingston Pier
3 000
328
-89.1%
Payments to the ACT
- assistance for water and sewerage services
9 051
9 051
-
- compensation for the effects of National Capital Influence on the costs of providing municipal services
22 508
22 508
-
Services to Indian Ocean Territories
61 746
75 211
21.9%
Output 2.2.2 - Local Government
2 001
2 015
0.7%
Administered programmes
Local Government Financial Assistance Grants
1 553 371
1 547 668
-0.4%
Supplementary funding to SA Councils for local roads
4 250
4 250
-
Output 2.2.3 - Natural Disaster Relief
4 074
3 637
-10.7%
Administered programmes
Bushfire Mitigation
5 000
5 000
-
Natural Disaster Mitigation
17 500
10 500
-40.0%
Flood Assistance Package - small business grants
60
32
-46.7%
National Aerial Firefighting
5 500
5 500
-
National Disaster Memorials
-
210
100.0%
Natural Disaster Relief Arrangements
89 540
67 674
-24.4%
Regional Flood Mitigation
12 100
11 253
-7.0%
Outcome 2 - all outputs
Total price of departmental outputs
65 239
60 096
-7.9%
Less receipts from independent sources
1 872
1 969
5.2%
Net price to government (appropriation) for outputs
63 367
57 990
-8.5%
Administered programmes summary
Total cost of administered programmes
1 920 989
1 879 872
-2.1%
Plus depreciation, write downs, value of assets sold
14 561
12 963
-11.0%
Total administered operating expenses
1 935 550
1 892 835
-2.2%
Less administered revenues
27 718
34 281
2.4%
Net cost to government of administered activities
1 907 832
1 858 591
-2.6%
Average Staffi ng Level (ASL)
330
312
-5.7%

a The budget shown for administered programmes is the revised budget published in our 2004-05 Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements. The budget shown for outputs is the revised budget published in our 2005-06 PBS and includes own source revenue. For details of our previous output budgets and outcomes see Appendix I (page 221).
b The variance is the change in our 2004-05 actuals over our revised 2004-05 budget.
c Construction of the Bert Hinkler Hall of Aviation Museum was allocated $0.725 million in the 2004-05 Budget but this amount was rolled over into 2005-06 at Additional Estimates to reflect project progress. The programme is likely to be rolled into the Regional Partnerships Programme, which is also providing funding towards the project, from 1 July 2006 to streamline programme administration.


¹ We would usually report against the PBS for the year we are reporting against - in this case, 2004-05. However, as explained in Chapter 1, our outcomes and outputs framework changed over 2004-05. To make this report as useful as possible, we have aligned it with the new framework and targets published in the 2005-06 PBS. For details of the changes and examples of our performance against previous targets please see Appendix I (page 221).

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Regional Services

(Regional Services)

Effectiveness
Regions are assisted to manage their own futures

In 2004-05 the department assisted regions to manage their own futures by:

  • making information available on Australian government programmes and services
  • supporting communities to plan for their own development,
  • providing grants for projects nominated by communities as important to their well-being and sustainability, and
  • supporting other agencies and governments to evaluate and improve their services to regional and Indigenous Australians.
Other agencies/ governments are assisted to evaluate and improve services to regional and Indigenous Australians

Better information on regions now available

Over 2004-05 the department significantly expanded its capacity to evaluate and inform decision-makers about conditions in Australia's regions. We:

  • worked with other agencies to finalise the National Regional Evaluation Framework - this will make it easier to compare the economic, social and environmental well-being of different regions
  • published in-depth profiles on the two new regions being targeted for assistance through the Sustainable Regions Programme (page 121), and
  • released major new research on taxable income - a key indicator of economic activity - by region.

The Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics (BTRE) Focus on Regions series has proved extremely popular with reprints necessary to keep up with demand for hard copies. Focus on Regions titles are:

  1. Industry Structure
  2. Education, Skills and Qualifications
  3. Taxable Income

A previous report on Investment Patterns in the Murray-Darling Basin has been set as a textbook by Charles Sturt University in the first ever water policy course at an Australian university.

All Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics (BTRE) publications are available free online (www.bitre.gov.au).

Quality
Information on Australian Government programmes and services is available to all Australians

Demand for information continues to grow

In 2004-05 the department continued to deliver information to people in regional Australia through the Australian Government Regional Information Service. In 2004-05 this free service:

  • delivered information on more than 650 government programmes and services to 2.8 million households in regional areas, and
  • handled over one million inquiries online and by phone.

While the vast majority of people preferred to use our website www.regionalaustralia.gov.au, a toll-free hotline (1800 026 222) was also provided to ensure information was accessible to the widest possible audience.

We also made information available on how community groups can access government grants, through our website www.grantslink.gov.au. In 2004-05 this free service:

  • promoted 174 Australian Government grants programmes, as well as contacts for each state and territory, and
  • fielded more than 1.4 million inquiries, up from 1.2 million inquiries last year.
Regional and Indigenous communities have opportunities to establish and advance local priorities and partnerships

Regional and Indigenous partnerships strengthened

The department also continued to assist regional comunities to plan for their own development. In 2004-05 our regional offices worked with:

  • a national network of 56 Area Consultative Committees (ACCs) to deliver the Regional Partnerships Programme (page118), and
  • 10 locally appointed advisory committees and executive officers to deliver the Sustainable Regions Programme (page 121), and
  • Indigenous communities in the remote East Kimberly as part of a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) pilot programme (see pages 10 and 17).

Did you know?

The department has a particular focus on the needs of Indigenous Australians because 70 per cent of Australia's Indigenous population lives outside our capital citiesa.

By comparison, just over 15 per cent of Australians born overseas choose to live outside a major cityb and of these, less than five per cent reported speaking English 'not well or not at all'a.

The ten most commonly used languages-other than English-outside our capital cities are Croatian, German, Italian, Greek, Arabic, Spanish, Tagalog, Polish, Vietnamese and Chinesec.

Source: aBTRE About Australia's Regions August 2005.
bMajor city is an urban centre with a population of at least 250 000.
cAustralian Government Regional Information Service.

Quality
Regional and Indigenous communities have opportunities to establish and advance local priorities and partnerships (continued)

Regional women's aspirations recognised

The department also continued to provide secretariat and other services to the Regional Women's Advisory Council. In 2004-05 we supported the council to:

  • co-host a conference on water, family violence and access to services with the Burdekin Dry Tropics Women on the Move Committee, which was attended by over 130 people
  • sponsor a series of events for women in the Launceston region, which provided feedback on access to services, trade, family and domestic violence, women's representation and community change
  • co-host a Women on the Move event in Katanning, Western Australia, with local coordinators and the support of the Alcoa Research Centre for Stronger Communities, which highlighted issues including isolation, leadership development, health and skills shortages
  • take stock of women's representation on rural industry boards and other formal boards and committees which have an influence on rural and regional communities, and
  • bring together chief executive women, rural researchers, and business and industry leaders to suggest strategies for increasing women's representation.

In June 2005 the government announced an inquiry into ways to increase women's participation in both decision-making and representative roles to support the longer term sustainability and competitiveness of rural and regional Australia.

In addition to supporting the inquiry in 2005-06, the department expects to advise the government on:

  • the future of the Regional Women's Advisory Council following the expiry of the current council's term in September 2005, and
  • the scope to establish new mechanisms to provide a youth perspective on issues affecting regional communities.
Grants are administered for projects that maintain or improve regional well-being and sustainability

Record level of grants administered

In 2004-05 the department administered a record $120.7 million in grants through:

  • the Regional Partnerships Programme (page 118)
  • the Sustainable Regions Programme (page 121)
  • the Remote Air Services Subsidy (RASS) scheme (page 125)
  • the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (page 126), and
  • the Regional and Rural Development Grants and Research Information and Data programmes (page 127).

During the year the department made several submissions to a Senate inquiry into our administration of the Regional Partnerships and Sustainable Regions programmes. The inquiry, which began in December 2004, concluded in October 2005. The department will assist the government to prepare and implement a formal response to the report in due course.

Other agencies/ governments work with us on issues affecting regions

Other issues affecting regions receiving attention

We continued to work within the Australian Government and with other governments on issues affecting Australia's regions including telecommunications, water and native vegetation policy. We:

  • advised the Australian Government on reform of the way native vegetation and biodiversity issues are regulated
  • contributed to high-level work to scope and consider issues arising from the full privatisation of Telstra, Australia's largest telecommunications service provider
  • continued to assist with the implementation of the National Water Initiative, and
  • with key agencies, started looking at broader issues of water pricing and trading.
Price
$41.4m The actual price of this output in 2004-05 was $36.0 million. It is set to increase to $39.4 million in 2005-06.
Overall performance

Table 4.2 - Trends in regional services

2001-02
2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06E
Departmental activities
Total price of output a
$49.7m
$39.6m
$35.5m
$36.0m
$39.4m
Australian Government Regional Information Service (page 114)
www.regionalaustralia.gov.au b
0.7m hits
1.4m hits
1.6m hits
1.0.m hits
no set target
www.grantslink.gov.au
not reported
1.0m hits
1.2m hits
1.4m hits
no set target
Calls to hotline 1800 026 222
31 908
38 519
23 241
28 481
no set target
Regional Partnerships programme c (page 118)
Regional Partnership Projects
Applications received
1 308
954
736
627
no set target
New projects approved
685
533
266
438
no set target
Rural Transaction Centres (RTCs) d
New sites approved
34
67
74
0
-
Sites approved to date
not reportede
164
239
239
no change
Sites operating at 30 June
52
80
115
175
225
RTCs with electronic point of sale (personal banking service) d
New sites approved
98
21
33
0
-
Sites approved to date
not reportede
119
141
141
no change
Sites operating at 30 June
98
101
130
140
no change
Cost to government
$91.4m
$73.7m
$78.5m
$95.0m
$111.6m
Sustainable Regions programme (page 121)
New projects approved
not applicable
72
86
60
no set target
Cost to government
$0.4m
$6.2m
$20.9m
$22.6m
$48.3m
Remote Air Services Subsidy (RASS) scheme (page 125)
Communities assisted
>200
250
220
225
225
Operators engaged
5
8
7
7
6
Cost to government
$2.0m
$2.3m
$2.6m
$2.7m
$3.6m
Total programmes administered - includes RASS from 2004-05 only
Number of programmes
10
11
3
7
6
Total cost of programmes
$91.7m
$78.0m
$99.3m
$120.7m
$165.6m

a As this output only came into existence in 2004-05, the historical data shown here relates to the three outputs it replaced: regional development policy advice, regional development programmes, and regional research and data.
b Our website www.regionalaustralia.gov.au was only launched in January 2002.
c As this programme was only launched on 26 June 2003, the historical data shown here relates to the nine programmes it replaced and includes expenses incurred by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations before the transfer of some programmes to us in late 2001.
d The RTC programme was funded through the RTC reserve as established by the Telstra (Further Dilution of Public Ownership) Act 1999. Under the Act, funds from the reserve could only be accessed until 30 June 2005.
e An aggregate total of 202 RTCs and RTCs with personal banking services had been approved as at 30 June 2002.

Administered programme - Regional Partnerships
(Regional Services)
Effectiveness
Funded projects improve regional growth and opportunities, access to services, planning and structural adjustment

Since setting up this programme in July 2003, the government has committed over $160 million to 700 projects. These projects have helped communities in every region of Australia improve their well-being by:

  • promoting regional growth and opportunities
  • restoring - or in some cases providing for the first time - access to services that many Australians take for granted
  • supporting structural adjustment - the process by which jobs and capital are reallocated among sectors of the economy in response to changes in the economy and in government policy, and
  • facilitating planning by local communities

Because every region is unique, the proposals lodged with the department vary considerably in their size and scope. Some of the projects funded in 2004-05 were:

  • buildings and infrastructure to help establish Brambuk National Park and Cultural Centre as the pre-eminent site for the appreciation of Aboriginal culture, heritage and environmental values in Hall's Gap, Victoria ($1.4 million)
  • a facility to enable farmed goat meat to be processed in Oberon, NSW, for both domestic and export markets ($0.6 million), and
  • a video/DVD and a drive map to promote tourism in the Bowen region in Queensland ($0.011 million).

Job creation is a common benefit of many projects. Recent independent evaluations of predecessors of the Regional Partnerships Programme suggest that three jobs are created for every $50 000 spent.

Quality
Regional priorities are established by an ACC in each region

In 2004-05 the department continued to work with 56 Area Consultative Committees (ACCs) throughout Australia to identify and support projects to benefit regional communities. ACCs draw members from the local business, industry and government sector to:

  • help develop and maintain three year strategic regional plans to address the issues facing their communities, and
  • provide on-the-ground support to potential applicants to help meet their goals within their local communities.

In 2004-05 extra funding was provided to enable ACCs to broker project partnerships and facilitate whole of government initiatives at the local level.

90% of applications for funding are assessed within 12 weeks of submission

In 2004-05 the department received 627 applications for funding from every region in Australia.

New procedures were implemented to fast-track applications for up to $25 000 (about 20 per cent of all applications). The new procedures, which were put in place in November 2004, have succeeded in reducing the average time required to assess smaller applications.

The department expects to assess 75 per cent of applications received in 2005-06 within 12 weeks of submission, and to improve on this performance over time.

Grants are provided for projects which meet programme guidelines, including consistency with ACC regional priorities and partnership funding

Each application for funding is fully and competitively assessed by the department against the Regional Partnerships assessment criteria. To be successful, applications must:

  • be consistent with regional priorities
  • demonstrate that they are likely to provide benefits or to create or enhance opportunities
  • have significant partnership support, and
  • be viable and sustainable.

ACCs also provide advice on each project. When required the department arranges independent due diligence checks. Recommendations and advice are presented to the minister for decision.

In 2004-05, projects selected for funding have continued to attract strong community support, with private sector and other parties contributing an average of $3 for every $1 spent by the Australian Government.

Payments are made in line with project progress and funding agreements

Successful applicants are required to enter into a funding agreement - a legally enforceable document, which sets out the terms and conditions governing Australian Government funding. Funding agreements include a negotiated schedule of payments linked to agreed milestones, outcomes and timeframes.

Even after funding agreements are put in place, the department continues to work closely with project proponents to ensure that projects remain on track as much as possible and comply with conditions of funding. We analyse progress reports received against the obligations identified in funding agreements and conduct site visits as appropriate.

Over 2004-05, the department also worked closely with Rural Transaction Centre (RTC) proponents to wind up this legacy element of the programme as required by 30 June 2005².

As a result, about 50 new RTCs are expected to become operational al in the next few months, providing their communities with access to services and technology that enable them to obtain information and carry out transactions.

Other legacy elements of the programme are to be wound up in 2005-06. These include the former:

  • Dairy Regional Assistance Programme, which was set up in 2000 to help regional communities adjust to the effects of dairy de-regulation, and
  • the former Regional Solutions Programme, which was set up in 2000 to fund worthwhile regional projects which did not qualify for funding under other federal programmes.
90% of project proponents and ACCs are satisfied with the programme's administration

A survey of ACC members and project proponents was conducted for the first time in December 2004, to enable the quality of the programme to be assessed. The overwhelming majority of respondents rated the overall performance of the Regional Partnerships Programme as fair or better, and the level of support we provided as 'effective' or 'extremely effective'.

Unsuccessful applications or project proponents who receive less funding than requested may request a formal review of the relevant decision. While 19 requests were received from unsuccessful applicants over 2004-05:

  • this equates to roughly three per cent of all applications received in 2004-05, and
  • only two decisions were reversed after an independent review.
Quantity/Location
Regional priorities and projects are established in every region of Australia (56 regions) For details of the priorities for and projects in every region of Australia, visit www.regionalaustralia.gov.au
Cost
$103.4m (up from $90.8m at Budget) The actual cost of this programme in 2004-05 was $95.0 million, up from $90.9 million in 2003-04. It is set to increase to $111.6 million in 2005-06.
No funds were diverted to fund the 38 election commitments now being delivered through the programme as the Australian Government has provided an extra $66.8 million over five years to cover the costs of these commitments.
Overall performance
Administered programme - Sustainable Regions
(Regional Services)
Effectiveness
Funded projects improve economic, social and/or environmental well-being in the region

Since 2001 the government has committed over $77.6 million to 218 projects to help communities in eight regions deal with major economic, social and environmental change.

Sixty new projects were approved in 2004-05, down from 86 in 2003-04. Some of the projects funded in 2004-05 included:

  • construction of the Cradle Mountain Centralised Sewerage Scheme - this will ensure tourism development does not damage this world heritage area ($0.5 million plus $4.1 million in partner contributions)
  • a new food processing facility in Bundaberg Queensland - this is enabling value to be added to locally grown produce and creating up to 53 new jobs over three years ($0.5 million plus $2.8 million in partner contributions)
  • a new cultural precinct in Campbelltown - this links the Bicentennial Art Gallery with the Japanese and Sculpture Gardens and includes a new venue for community activities ($0.5 million plus $0.3m in partner contributions)
  • capacity building for Djubugay Aboriginal people, who are now providing guided tours of and restoring culturally significant locations such as the Bare Hill Rock Art site in Queensland ($0.2 million, matched by partner contributions), and
  • expansion of a successful recycling and repair business in the north Salisbury region of SA - this is helping long-term unemployed, mature age and young people, and people with a disability to enter the workforce ($0.1 million plus $0.2 million in partner contributions).

For details of the priorities for and projects in every region of Australia, visit www.sustainableregions.gov.au

Quality
Regional priorities are established by a Sustainable Regions Advisory Committee (SRAC) in each region In 2004-05 the department continued to provide secretariat and other support to an advisory committee in each region. The committees - who comprise business, community and local government representatives - provide advice to the Australian Government on issues associated with the regions, recommendations on project funding and on-the-ground support for potential applications.

Figure 4A - Profile of the ten Sustainable Regions as at 30 June 2005

Figure 4A - Profile of the ten Sustainable Regions as at 30 June 2005

Sustainable Regions continued...

Quality
Grants are provided for projects which meet programme guidelines, including consistency with SRAC regional priorities and partnership funding

Each application for funding is fully and competitively assessed by the regional advisory committee against the Sustainable Regions assessment criteria. To be successful, applications must:

  • be consistent with regional priorities
  • demonstrate that they are likely to achieve sustainable outcomes, and
  • have significant regional support.

The department also confirms that recommended proposals meet the programme guidelines and arranges any required due diligence checks. Recommendations and advice are presented to the minister for decision.

Funded projects have attracted approximately $150 million from private sector and other partners since the programme began in 2001. This equates to a $2 benefit for every $1 the Australian Government invests, although the actual amount varies between projects and regions.

Payments are made in line with project progress and funding agreements

Successful applicants are required to enter into a funding agreement - a legally enforceable document, which sets out the terms and conditions governing Australian Government funding. Funding agreements include a negotiated schedule of payments linked to agreed milestones, outcomes and timeframes.

Even after funding agreements are put in place, we continue to work closely with project proponents to ensure that projects remain on track as much as possible and comply with conditions of funding. We analyse progress reports received against the obligations identified in funding agreements and conduct site visits as appropriate.

Quantity/Location
Regional priorities and projects are established for two new regions (Northern Rivers and North Coast NSW, Darling Matilda Way)

Two new regions set up

Following the federal election in late 2004, the government committed another $33 million over four years to two new regions. This comprises

  • up to $21 million for Darling Matilda Way - this region covers 26 local government areas and unincorporated areas of western NSW and Queensland, and
  • up to $12 million for Northern Rivers and North Coast NSW - this region covers six local government areas south and south-west of the existing Far North East NSW region.

As at 30 June 2005, advisory committees had been appointed for the two new regions and were developing draft regional priorities for consideration by the minister. Both committees are expected to identify a number of possible projects in 2005-06.

Agreed projects are implemented in eight existing regions in Campbelltown-Camden, Far North East New South Wales, Gippsland, the Atherton Tablelands, Wide Bay Burnett, Playford-Salisbury, the Kimberley, and North West and West Coast of Tasmania

Funding for existing regions mostly allocated

Up to $12 million is available to each existing region over the life of the programme with the exception of the Atherton Tablelands (up to $18 million) and Wide Bay Burnett (up to $8 million).

As at 30 June 2005, a total of $70.5 million had been committed to 218 projects across the eight regions. Up to $27.2 remained available for projects in these regions (for details see Figure 4A).

Funding for the original eight regions is due to wind up on 30 June 2006. Advisory committees are expected to make final recommendations to the minister early in 2005-06 so projects can be finalised and investment maximised prior to the deadline.

Cost
$33.4m (up from $32.5m at Budget) The actual cost of this programme in 2004-05 was $22.6 million, up from $20.9 million in 2003-04. Up to $48.3 million has been made available for the programme in 2005-06.
Overall performance

Did you know?

There is no commonly accepted definition of Australia's regions. Regions can be defined:

  • by natural environments and landscapes such as water catchments
  • by legal boundaries as in the case of local governments-you will find a map of these in our 2003-04 report on the operation of the local government act (annual report 2003-04)
  • by a sense of economic and social interdependence, and
  • by other connections that distinguish them from neighbouring areas.
Administered programme - Remote Air Services Subsidy (RASS) Scheme
(Regional Services)
Effectiveness/location
Isolated communities have access to passenger transport, goods delivery and other services

Without this scheme, 225 isolated communities would lack regular access to passenger transport, or to goods such as fresh food, prescription medicine, spare parts and school books.

The number of passengers carried in 2004-05 increased to around 2100, up from 1600 in previous years, while the amount of freight carried to or from communities declined slightly from 39 220 kg in 2003-04 to 37 672 kg in 2004-05.

Quality
Weekly air services are provided to communities who would otherwise have no regular access to transport

Remote and isolated communities were invited to apply or reapply for the scheme as part of a national mail out and advertising campaign in 2003. Communities that did not reapply were contacted to ensure they were aware of the need to reapply.

The department then began an open tender process to identify air operators able to service these communities, engaging six operators to provide weekly air services for two years from December 2005. Operators are paid monthly in arrears based on agreed service levels, and set passenger fares and freight rates taking into account the associated risks.

Quantity/Location
Air services are provided to approximately 225 isolated communities in remote parts of Queensland, NT, WA, SA and Tasmania

As at 30 June 2005, 225 communities were covered by the scheme. There were no changes during the year.

  • Around 30 per cent of communities were traditional Indigenous communities while others included cattle and sheep stations.
  • Most were in remote areas of northern Australia where road access is cut off for months at a time during the wet season and a regular air service is the only reliable means of transport.
  • The remainder were in remote parts of SA and Tasmania (Cape Barren Island), where communities lack access to any regular transport services.
Cost
$3.3m The actual cost of this programme in 2004-05 was $2.7 million, reflecting a lower than anticipated number of new communities applying for RASS services.
Overall performance
Administered programme - Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR)
(Regional Services)
Effectiveness/location
Additional funds are leveraged for rural and regional renewal

FRRR, set up by the Australian Government and the Sidney Myer Fund (a major philanthropic trust) in 2000, is the only national philanthropic foundation dedicated to rural and regional Australia.

To date FRRR has allocated $6.6 million to projects that stimulate the renewal of whole communities. It estimates that it has leveraged another $59.4 million in support of projects from donors including the Pratt Foundation, ANZ Bank, Gardiner Foundation, Bendigo Bank's Community Enterprise Foundation and Rural Education Program Funding Donors, Sarah and Baillieu Myer, Tim and Gina Fairfax, John and Janet Calvert-Jones and a large number of private trusts and foundations.

A recent departmental review confirmed that the FRRR has stimulated the business sector to assist regional communities, is developing a niche in providing small grants to small communities, and is well regarded by both communities.

For more information about the FRRR, visit www.frrr.org.au

Quality
Payments are made in line with the Australian Government's obligations In line with the Australian Government's obligations, the department paid the FRRR a 'challenge grant' based on the level of donations received by the foundation in the previous financial year.
Cost
$0.3m The cost of this programme varies from year to year in line with the level of donations received by the foundation. It cost $0.2 million in 2004-05. An amount of $0.3 million has been allocated to this programme for 2005-06.
Overall performance

Did you know?

People from outside cities are more active in their local communities.

Almost 40 per cent of regional Australians undertook some form of volunteer work compared to 28 per cent of people in capital cities.

Sydney reported the lowest volunteer rate (25 per cent) while regional WA had the highest rate of 45 per cent.

Source: BTRE About Australia's Regions August 2005

Administered programme
- Regional and Rural Research Information and Data
- Regional and Rural Development Grants
(Regional Services)
Effectiveness
Issues affecting Australia's regions are researched and communicated to national and regional decision makers

Projects funded under these progammes in 2004-05 focused on:

  • research on the impact of gender diversity on regional board performance, and on the link between cultural diversity/social inclusion and economic development in regional communities
  • the International Conference on Engaging Communities, which was co-sponsored by the United Nations and Queensland Government-for more information see www.engagingcommunities2005.org
  • improvements to the Australian New Zealand Regional Science Association website www.uq.net.au/~zzanzrsa, and
  • detailed statistical profiles for the two new regions set up under the Sustainable Regions Programme (page 121).
Cost
$0.2m The total cost of these programmes in 2004-05 was $0.226 million and is not expected to change significantly in 2005-06. The programmes will be streamlined into one from 1 July 2005 for ease of administration.
Overall performance

² The RTC programme was funded through the Rural Transaction Centres Reserve as established by the Telstra (Further Dilution of Public Ownership) Act 1999. Under the act, funds from the reserve could only be accessed until 30 June 2005.

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Services to Territories

(Territories and Local Government)

Effectiveness
Territories are assisted to manage their own futures

Ten territories help make up the nation of Australia and are home to more than half a million Australians (see figure 4.A).

Each territory is different economically, socially and culturally, and its relationship with the Australian Government also differs depending on whether they are self-governing or non-self-governing.

In 2004-05, the department continued to work with all territories that fall within the portfolio, to assist them to manage their own futures and to manage the Australian Government's interests in them.

In the case of the non-self governing territories, the department also provided a range of infrastructure and services in the absence of a state or territory government.

A brief report on each of the territories we administer follows.

Quality
Territories funding is administered in line with relevant legislation, policies and agreements In 2004-05 the department continued to collect loan repayments from territory governments, and taxes and fees from the sale of goods and services to territory residents. All revenue is reported and audited as part of our financial statements.
Price
$17.7m (down from $22.5m at Budget) The actual price of this output in 2004-05 was $18.5 million and is expected to reach $17.1 million in 2005-06.
Overall performance

Table 4.3 - Location and profile of Australia's territoriesa

Territory
Area
Population
Cultural/linguistic features
Self-governing territories
Australian Capital Territory
2 358 km²
324 021
Norfolk Island
35 km²
2037 b
Northern Territory
1 349 129 km²
199 913
25% Indigenous
Non self-governing territories
Christmas Island
135 km²
1 516
70% Chinese,
10% Malay speakers
Cocos (Keeling) Islands
14 km²
598
70% Cocos-Malay speakers
Coral Sea Islands
81 km²
4
Jervis Bay
73 km²
556
About 40% Indigenous
Other
Ashmore and Cartier Islands
2 km²
Uninhabited
Australian Antarctic Territory c
5 896 500 km²
Transient
Heard and McDonald Islands c
367 km²
Uninhabited
All territories
7 248 694 km²
527 967

a Source: BTRE, About Australia's Regions, Aug 2005 Table 6 unless indicated otherwise.
b Source: Norfolk Island Census of Population and Housing 7 August 2001. Includes permanent residents.
c Australia's antarctic/subantarctic territories are administered by the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (www.environment.gov.au).

Table 4.4 - Trends in services to territories

This table presents a conservative picture of the cost of services to and funding for territories. These statistics do not include the cost of capital works or of depreciation of administered assets.
2001-02
2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06E
Price of department output
$91.9m
$106.2m
$108.1m
$18.5m
$17.1m
Administered expenses
  • services to the IOTs
n/a
n/a
n/a
$75.2m
$58.8m
  • ACT municipal services
$21.1m
$21.6m
$22.1m
$22.5m
$23.0m
  • ACT water & sewerage services
$8.5m
$8.7m
$8.9m
$9.1m
$9.3m
  • other (Norfolk Island)
-
-
-
$0.3m
$3.0m
Total cost of services to territories (departmental and administered)
$121.4m
$137.1m
$139.0m
$125.6m
$111.1m

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

Effectiveness/Quality
Territories are assisted to manage their own futures

The ACT is a self-governing territory. In 2004-05, on behalf of the Australian Government, the department continued to:

  • monitor the performance of the National Capital Authority, which ensures that Canberra is planned and developed in accordance with its national significance, and
  • advise our ministers on options for responding to recent parliamentary reports on national capital issues (page 165).

Australian Government interests in all territories are managed

Territories funding is administered in line with relevant legislation, policies and agreements

In 2004-05 the minister set up a committee to advise government on the future of the Aboriginal tent embassy site, which has attracted a broad range of protesters and campers since it was set up as part of Indigenous land rights protests in 1972 (see Chapter 2 page 17). In addition to supporting the committee, the department:

  • undertook a detailed review of corporate governance in the National Capital Authority in response to the Uhrig report (see case study page 13 ).
  • continued to advise our ministers on their obligations under 22 pieces of ACT-related legislation, including in relation to self government legislation, cross border water supply and Googong Dam, and
  • administered payments to the ACT for costs associated with being the nation's capital (page 137).

Northern Territory (NT)

Effectiveness/Quality
Territories are assisted to manage their own futures
Australian Government interests in all territories are managed
Territories funding is administered in line with relevant legislation, policies and agreements

The self-governing territory of the NT has a diverse economy and operates relatively independently. In 2004-05, on behalf of the Australian Government, the depatment continued to:

  • support the NT Administrator, the Hon Ted Egan AO, whose role is largely equivalent to that of a state governor.
  • administer loans for assets transferred to the NT when it gained self-government - these mainly related to water, sewerage and housing assets.

Norfolk Island

Effectiveness/Quality

Territories are assisted to manage their own futures

Australian Government interests in all territories are managed

Territories funding is administered in line with relevant legislation, policies and agreements

The territory of Norfolk Island celebrated 25 years of self-government in 2004-05. In 2004-05, on behalf of the Australian Government, the department continued to:

  • support the Office of the Norfolk Island Administrator, the Hon Grant Tambling (appointed late 2003) - the office provides, amongst other things, a shopfront for some Australian Government services including the Passport Office
  • advise our ministers on options for responding to recent parliamentary reports on Norfolk Island issues (page 165)
  • work with the Kingston and Arthur's Vale Historic Area Management Board to maintain and interpret heritage values on the island, and
  • administer an interest-free loan for the Cascade Cliff safety project to stabilise a dangerous cliff face overlooking one of the island's two piers, and

Government agreement was also obtained to:

  • set up a trust fund to improve environmental and land management (see Chapter 2 page 17) - this will be funded from the anticipated transfer of up to 129 Crown leases to freehold title during 2005-06
  • increase the size of the interest-free loan to the Norfolk Island Government to $12 million, for resurfacing of the island's airport runways, and
  • provide a grant to the Norfolk Island Government of $3 million for urgent works to stabilise and refurbish the island's historic Kingston Pier.

In 2005-06 we expect the Norfolk Island Government to engage a prime contractor and start work on the pier. This work will address safety concerns, protect an important historical asset and ensure it remains useable by the community.

Jervis Bay Territory (JBT)

Effectiveness/Quality
Territories are assisted to manage their own futures

This 73km² non-self-governing territory is located on the east coast of NSW 200 km south of Sydney. Its diverse population comprises people from HMAS Creswell, the Wreck Bay Aboriginal community, and residents of Jervis Bay Village and lease holders on the western boundary of the territory.

In 2004-05 the department continued to assist the Jervis Bay community to manage its own future. We:

  • progressed efforts to resolve a land claim in Jervis Bay by the Wreck Bay Aboriginal community, and
  • chaired the Justice Issues Group improving the situation in respect of welfare, child protection and justice issues.

Australian Government interests in all territories are managed

In the absence of a state or territory government, non-self governing territories are provided with a range of infrastructure and services:

In 2004-05 the department also continued to deliver a range of services on behalf of the Australian Government, including health, education, motor registry, library, dog control, electricity, water and sewage treatment services. Services were delivered either directly, through the private sector or through state and territory governments. In addition, in 2004-05 the department:

  • produced and distributed a free local directory with contact details for government and community groups
  • began major repairs to the territory's sea wall
  • introduced new driver training programmes, and
  • started reviewing the provision of aged and disability services.
  • at a reasonable standard and cost compared to similar mainland communities
Services to JBT residents are generally delivered at standards and prices equivalent to the surrounding district.
  • in a way which recognises the cultural and linguistic diversity of territory residents

We aspire to operate in a way which recognises the cultural and linguistic diversity of territory residents, about 40 per cent of whom are Indigenous.

In 2004-05 we continued to work with the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community to promote cultural awareness and provided funding to commemorate the hand over of the national park to community.

Territories funding is administered in line with relevant legislation, policies and agreements In providing services to this territory on behalf of the Australian Government, the department spent approximately $5 million and collected over $800 000 in fees for services including rent, electricity and water charges.

Indian Ocean Territories (IOTs)

Effectiveness/Quality
Territories are assisted to manage their own futures

The IOTs consist of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Their economies rely heavily on the ongoing support of the Australian Government.

In 2004-05, the department continued to support the IOT's administrator, the Hon Evan Williams (appointed late 2003), as the Australian Government's representative in the territories. The department also:

  • implemented the government decision to reclassify resources relating to the IOTs from departmental to administered as of 1 July 2004, to make funding arrangements for the territories more transparent
  • supported economic development committees on both Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands - both committees are chaired by the administrator, and
  • provided funding for the administrator to engage a consultant to develop an economic development strategy for the IOTs - this is in draft form and is to be completed in 2005-06.
Australian Government interests in all territories are managed

The department continued to manage a portfolio of properties in the IOTs on behalf of the Australian Government. As part of this, in 2004-05 we:

  • completed the subdivision of Australian Government land in Buffett Close on Cocos' West Island, to create 18 new residential blocks
  • continued strata titling houses identified as suitable for sale on Christmas Island, and property upgrades to facilitate strata titling, and
  • started assessing suspected contaminated sites in the IOTs, to enable remediation in line with best practice public health and environmental standards.

The department also paid compensation to Phosphate Resources Limited (PRL) as the lessee of the Christmas Island Immigration Reception and Processing Centre site before it was resumed by the Commonwealth in 2002.

In the absence of a state or territory government, non-self governing territories are provided with infrastructure and services In 2004-05 we continued to provide territory residents with health, housing and other services, either directly or through the private sector or WA government. For information about the infrastructure and services we provided in the IOTs (see page 135).
Administered programme - Services to Indian Ocean Territories
(Territories and Local Government)
Quality
In the absence of a state or territory government, IOT residents and visitors are provided with a range of infrastructure and services:

In 2004-05 the department continued to deliver a range of services and undertook major works to upgrade health, housing, airport, marine water, power and sewerage services in the IOTs. We:

  • built an all weather seaport for Christmas Island, which is otherwise inaccessible for days or even weeks during the wet season from November to May each year
  • completed a dedicated sport and recreational facility on Christmas Island and finalised arrangements for its management
  • finished a ‘state of the art' power station for Home Island in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, with about 10 per cent of the island's power needs now produced by wind turbines (see also Chapter 2 page 22), and
  • started work to further expand Christmas Island's water supply.

Christmas Island's analogue mobile phone network was also replaced with a new digital network, funded in part by a grant under the Regional Partnership Programme (page 118).

In 2005-06 the department will:

  • start planning new freight handling facilities on West Island (Cocos)
  • finalise plans to supplement the water supply on Home Island (Cocos) to reduce the frequency and severity of water shortages on the island (see case study page 138)
  • acquire land for additional fresh water infrastructure on Christmas Island to cater for the increased demand generated by the Immigration Reception and Processing Centre, and
  • continue to investigate opportunities for a tourism development on Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
  • at a reasonable standard and cost compared to similar mainland communities

The government requires us to deliver infratructure and services in the IOTs at a reasonable standard and cost compared to similar mainland communities. In 2004-05 the department continued to deliver efficiencies by:

  • benchmarking existing delivery mechanisms
  • market testing some services, with a decision on the market testing of health services expected later in 2005-06
  • contracting out delivery of services including airport management and air services between the IOTs and Perth, and
  • entering into agreements with WA agencies to extend their service delivery into the territories as agents of and funded by the Australian Government.
  • in a way which recognises the cultural and linguistic diversity of residents¹ and visitors
Recognition is given to the cultural and linguistic diversity of territory residents, many of whom speak Chinese, Malay or Cocos-Malay. For example we produce regular newsletters and radio bulletins for residents in all major community languages.
Cost
$61.7m (up from $55.4m at Budget) The actual cost of this programme in 2004-05 was $75.2 million. An amount of $58.8 million has been allocated to this programme in 2005-06.
Overall performance

Case Study D1 : IOTs now on Australia's tsunami alert frontline

Did you know?

Ninety years ago, the Cocos Islands were the site of what would be the Australian Navy's first battle.

For months the 188m German vessel SMS Emden had ranged the Indian Ocean, seizing or sinking 30 merchant vessels and two warships. It was being hunted by no less than 60 allied warships by the end of October 1914.

On the morning of 9 November 1914, 50 of Emden's crew crept onto Cocos to disable the cable relay station - but they were too late to stop a message slipping out that the warship was in the area.Coincidentally, an Australian convoy carrying troops to Egypt happened to be only 50 miles away and the 139m HMAS Sydney was dispatched to deal with the intruder.

Heavy shell fire was exchanged over the next hour and half, ending with the Emden running aground on North Keeling with more than 134 dead. More than 100 German seamen were taken prisoner. Some escaped onto North Keeling where, without water or food, they perished.

Meanwhile, the German raiding party - left ashore when the Sydney showed up - stole a schooner. In one of the most amazing war escape stories, they eventually made it back to Germany after six months travelling over sea and land.

Administered programme - Payment to the ACT - compensation for the effects of National Capital influence on the cost of providing municipal services
- assistance for water and sewerage services
(Territories and Local Government)
Effectiveness/Location
The national capital influence on the cost of ACT water and sewerage services/municipal services is ameliorated

The Australian Government makes payments to the ACT Government for costs associated with being the national capital. The amount payable is:

  • based on the estimate made by the Commonwealth Grants Commission when the ACT became self‑governing in 1988, and
  • adjusted for increases in the consumer price index.
Quality
Payments are made in line with the agreed schedule In 2004-05 the ACT Government received the full amount payable in fortnightly instalments.
Cost
$31.6m The actual cost of these programmes in 2004-05 was $31.6 million.
Overall performance

¹ Approximately 2100 people live in the IOTs, namely on Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Case Study D2 : Dam good solutions to local water problems

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Local Government

(Territories and Local Government)

Effectiveness
Local governments are assisted to serve their communities The department delivers Australian Government funding to local governments across Australia so they can deliver essential services like planning and development, community services and infrastructure, such as roads. We also actively promote and support best practice in local government.
Quality
Grants are allocated and distributed to local governments in line with national principles

In 2004-05, the department continued to administer financial assistance grants to Australia's 703 local governments under the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995 (page 142). Payments topped $1.5 billion in 2004-05 and, with indexation, will top $1.6 billion in 2005-06.

The department also administered the first of three planned instalments for SA councils, providing an extra $4.25 million to address particular local road needs (page 143).

Local and state governments were consulted about the Hawker Report, which recommended substantial reforms to local government relationships and funding, and assisted the Australian Government to finalise its response to the report (tabled on 22 June 2005).

While the government did not support major changes to the arrangements for allocating financial assistance grants, it agreed to request the Commonwealth Grants Commission to review the distribution between states of local road grants.

The government also agreed to progress an intergovernmental agreement on local government issues. Work has already begun with state, territory and local governments to develop such an agreement. The Local Government and Planning Ministers Council will consider a draft agreement in March 2006.

Better practice in local government is recognised and promoted e.g. through a national awards process

In 2004-05 the department continued to promote local government successes and achievements through:

  • the Australian Government's annual National Awards for Local Government
  • leading practice seminars - these included a Perth seminar on partnerships which attracted 60 local government and ACC delegates as well as a two-day seminar on cultural diversity hosted by the City of West Torrens in SA, and
  • an online database of the more than 2000 projects nominated for awards since 1997.

The 2005 National Awards for Local Government attracted more entries than last year - 286 compared to 250. They featured sixteen categories including asset management, health services, IT, environment, diversity, ageing and innovation.

Category winners were announced in late July 2005. Eight were a rural or small council. Five national award winners, to be chosen from this group, will be announced in November 2005.

More information about the awards and a list of category winners can be found on our website (www.dotars.gov.au/local/index.aspx).

In response to the Australian Government's commitment to enhance the awards, we are working through the Local Government Joint Officers Group to explore options for giving the awards a greater state and territory focus from 2006.

Local governments are assisted to improve their land use planning and development assessment systems

In 2004-05 the department continued to support the Development Assessment Forum to reform and harmonise Australia's development assessment (DA) systems. Some of the projects the forum worked on in 2004-05 included:

  • Australia-wide consultation on a draft Leading Practice Model for Development Assessment to help cut red tape
  • a National Electronic Data Exchange Standard to facilitate the electronic processing of development applications, and
  • National Standards in DA Definitions to harmonise DA practices and systems throughout Australia.

For more information about the forum visit www.daf.gov.au

Quantity
Information and funding is provided to approximately 700 local governing bodies across Australia In 2004-05 funding and information was provided to 703 local governing bodies across Australia, including 91 Indigenous councils. As the ACT has no local government, its share is paid directly to the ACT Government.
Price
$2.0m The actual price of this output in 2004-05 was $2.0 million is set to increase slightly to $2.4 million in 2005-06.
Overall performance

Table 4.5 - Trends in services to and funding for local government

2001-02
2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06E
Financial assistance grants
Local road grants
$408m
$445m
$466m
$476m
$497m
General purpose grants
$920m
$1 004m
$1 049m
$1 072m
$1 120m
Supplementary funding for SA councils
-
-
-
$4m
$9m
Total grants
$1 328m
$1 449m
$1 508m
$1 552m
$1 626m
Bodies funded
722
721
722
703
Approx 700
Annual report in respect of grants (to be) tabled
26 March 2003
24 Dec 2003
26 May 2005
Dec 2005
Dec 2006
Local government awards
Nominations closed
July 2001
July 2002
July 2003
July 2004
June 2005
Nominations received
294
373
335
250
286
Categories of award
11
11
19
18
18
Awards presented
Nov 2001
Nov 2002
Nov 2003
Nov 2004
Nov 2005
Price of output
$1.2m
$3.9m
$3.4m
$2.0m
$2.4m

Did you know?

Over the five years to 2004, the ten local government areas with the fastest decreases in population were all remote and outer regional areas of WA, SA and the NT.

The local government areas with the fastest population increases predictably included parts of Melbourne, Perth, Darwin and Sydney - but also held some surprises.

Remote and regional centres, such as Capel near Bunbury and Mandurah near Perth in WA, made the list in place of favourites like Brisbane and the Gold Coast - the latter two areas only recorded a five year average annual growth rates of 2.1 to 3.5 per cent.

Source: BTRE About Australia's Regions, August 2005

Administered programme - Local Government Financial Assistance Grants
(Territories and Local Government)
Effectiveness
Local governments are assisted to provide essential services at the community level

The Australian Government has provided financial assistance grants for local governments since 1974-75. In 2004-05 Australia's 703 local governing bodies received payments of more than $1.5 billion in financial assistance grants.

  • About 30 per cent of funding was distributed as local road grants. These funds were allocated between states according to fixed shares, and between local governments within a state on the basis of road expenditure needs.
  • About 70 per cent of funding was distributed as general purpose grants. These funds were allocated between states on the basis of population, and between local governing bodies within a state on the basis of relative needs. Funds are untied and can be spent by councils based on local priorities.
  • Overall, roughly two thirds or $1061 billion went to councils in regional and rural Australia including $28 million to Indigenous councils.

Grants represented roughly nine per cent of local government revenue overall, but provide more than half the revenue of some councils.

Quality
Grants are administered in line with the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995

In 2004-05 as required by the Act, the federal Minister for Local Government calculated the amount of grants to be allocated to each state.

The department worked closely with local government grants commissions in each state and territory to allocate and distribute grants in line with national principles.

Grants are paid in quarterly instalments, with the first payment to states and territories being made on or as soon as possible after the 15 August each year.

An annual report on the operation of the Act is tabled as soon as practical after 30 June each year

The Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995 requires the tabling of a separate annual report on the operation of the Act, as soon as practical after 30 June each year.

Our 2003-04 annual report was developed in consultation with the states and territories as required by the Act and tabled in the Australian Parliament on 26 May 2005. The report was made available on CD for the first time and is also on our website www.dotars.gov.au. Highlights of the report included:

  • an overview of the impact of health and ageing on local governments, and
  • a special report on local government in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Work on the 2004-05 report started in July 2005 with a formal request for input by the federal minister to state and territory ministers and local government associations.

Grants are distributed to approximately 700 local governments Financial assistance grants were paid for 703 local governments in each state and the NT. While the ACT has no local government, it also receives a share.
Cost
$1553.4m (up from $1533.1m at Budget) The actual cost of this programme in 2004-05 was $1547.7 million.
Overall performance
Administered programme - Supplementary funding to South Australian councils for local roads
(Territories and Local Government)
Effectiveness/Quality/Quantity/Location
Local governments have equitable access to Australian Government funding for local roads To facilitate equitable access to funding for local roads, the Australian Government agreed to provide funding of $26.25 million over three years to SA councils. In 2004-05 the first instalment of $4.25 million was provided to 74 councils. The funding is distributed on the same basis as the local road grants component of financial assistance grants.
Grants are distributed in line with the local roads grants component of financial assistance grants A review by the Commonwealth Grants Commission into distribution of local road grants, which is due to report in June 2006, will inform the development of a longer term response to SA funding.
Supplementary funding is distributed to 74 local governments in South Australia
Cost
$4.3m The actual cost of this programme in 2004-05 was $4.3 million as planned. This amount is due to increase to $9.0 million in 2005-06 and $13.0 million in
2006-07 in line with the Australian Government's obligations.
Overall performance

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Natural Disaster Relief

(Territories and Local Government)

Effectiveness
Damage from natural disasters is ameliorated, along with trauma and associated costs to the community

Floods, fire and other natural disasters pose major challenges to Australia's communities.

While natural disaster management is a state and territory responsibility, the department delivers a range of policy advice and programmes on behalf of government to help communities anticipate, mitigate against and recover from natural disasters.

Quality
Information on natural disaster events and risks is collected systematically for Australian communities

In mid 2004 the department, in collaboration with Geoscience Australia and Emergency Management Australia, met with its state and territory counterparts to agree implementation of natural disaster risk assessment and data collection reforms approved in principle by COAG.

These meetings were followed in early 2005 with a series of workshops to progress the agreed approach, including development of a framework for risk assessments and data collection.

Other agencies and governments are assisted to evaluate and improve bushfire and natural disaster management

The department also continued to provide leadership on land use planning and building code reforms to reduce avoidable natural disaster risks and damage, and to work with the Australasian Police Ministers' Council on natural disaster management.

Federal, state and territory governments provided a progress report on implementation of aspects of COAG bushfire recommendations through the Local Government and Planning Ministers' Council.

Grants and loans are administered which assist communities to mitigate against and recover from disasters

The department continued to administer a range of grants and loans to help communities mitigate against and recover from disasters. In 2004-05 these mainly related to

  • a new Bushfire Mitigation Programme introduced in 2004-05 (page 148)
  • Natural Disaster Mitigation (page 146)
  • Regional Flood Mitigation (page 150)
  • the National Aerial Firefighting Strategy (page 149), and
  • Natural Disaster Relief Arrangements (page 152).

The department also administered a one-off contribution on behalf of the Australian Government towards the Pentagon Memorial Fund, for the building and maintenance of a Memorial Park, to ensure the people who lost their lives on 11 September 2001 will never be forgotten ($0.210 million).

Price
$4.1m The actual price of this output in 2004-05 was $3.6 million.
Overall performance

Table 4.6 - Trends in natural disaster mitigation and relief programmes

2001-02a
2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06E
Administered expense by type of disasterb
Flood mitigation
$11.0m
$8.8m
$7.3m
$17.1m
$17.3m
Bushfire mitigationc
-
$8.2m
$6.7m
$13.0m
$10.5m
Other/not allocated by type
-
-
$1.7m
$2.2m
$16.0m
All mitigation
$11.0m
$17.0m
$15.7m
$32.3m
$43.8m
Flood relief
$4.4m
-
-
-
-
Bushfire relief
$16.9m
$2.5m
$1.0m
-
-
Other/not allocated by type
$72.4m
$83.0m
$46.9m
$67.7m
$89.5m
All relief
$93.7m
$85.5m
$47.9m
$67.7m
$89.5m
Natural Disaster Mitigation
New projects approved
n/a
n/a
128
211
no set target
Total projects funded
n/a
n/a
141
225
no set target
Total cost of programme
n/a
n/a
$5.5m
$10.5m
$33.3m
Regional Flood Mitigation
New projects approved
45
49
22
25
no set target
Total projects funded
70
81
78
61
no set target
Total cost of programme
$7.0m
$8.8m
$4.7m
$11.3m
-
Natural Disaster Relief Arrangements (NDRA)
Disasters notified
13
27
39
29
n/a
Total cost of NDRA
$72.4m
$83.0m
$46.9m
$67.7m
$89.5m
Price of output
$1.1m
$3.2m
$3.4m
$3.6m
$4.7m

a Data for 2001-02 includes expenses incurred by other agencies before the NDRA and certain other programmes were transferred to us in late 2001.
b Historical estimates include programmes such as the Lismore Levee which have now wound up. The forward estimates for disaster mitigation and relief reflect current provisions and are subject to change.
c Bushfire mitigation estimates include the National Aerial Firefi ghting programme as well as mitigation funding where allocated.

Administered programme - Natural Disaster Mitigation
(Territories and Local Government)
Effectiveness
Communities are assisted to identify and treat natural disaster risks

To the end of 2004-05, this programme has provided $22 million towards 280 projects to help communities better withstand the effects of natural disasters. Costs are generally shared on a one third basis between the Australian, state/territory and local governments.

In 2004-05 the department continued to support a diverse range of projects on behalf of the Australian Government. Recent projects have helped:

  • establish 28 additional Community Fire Units in NSW to promote community safety and awareness, and enable communities to deal with bushfire risk locally ($250 000)
  • relocate levees that are causing hydraulic constriction in the lower Goulburn River floodplain of Victoria ($250 000)
  • acquire land and construct fire trails in Queensland to substantially reduce the threat of wildfire in Toowoomba escarpment bushland parks and adjoining land ($240 000)
  • upgrade SA's Oodnadatta airport for 24-hour all-weather access ($92 000)
  • construct a cyclone evacuation centre in Onslow, WA ($200 000)
  • develop a natural disaster hazard website providing Tasmanians with up to date information about current events (nature, severity, location, road closures, etc) ($33 000)
  • undertake edge clearing to improve access and fire fighting safety along Mt Franklin road, ACT ($560 098), and
  • undertake a bushfire risk management initiative for seven remote locations in the NT ($262 500).

While it is hard to assess the effectiveness of such activities in the short term, investment in natural disaster mitigation has been conservatively estimated to deliver a 15 per cent rate of return on investment.

Quality
Priority is given to proposals for research on or treatment of regions with a risk of natural disaster

Funds are allocated on a notional basis which is largely based on data provided by the BTRE. Any funds not taken up are offered for reallocation to other jurisdictions. For details of the allocations and actual payments made in 2004-05, see table 4.7 below.

Applications for funding are received annually. Proposals are assessed and prioritised by state and territory assessment committees. The Australian Government has observer status on these committees.

Payments are made in line with project progress Fifty per cent of programme funds are paid up front on approval of projects with remaining funds paid out in instalments on satisfactory progress of works.
Cost
$17.5m

The implementation of the Natural Disaster Mitigation Programme in late 2003-04 and the need to align the funding cycle of this programme with the Regional Flood Mitigation Programme saw the announcement of successful projects in 2004-05 occur in December 2004, some six months into the start of the financial year.

This had a significant impact on the progress of works and expenditure of programme funds. While the programme's budget was fully committed, the actual cost of this programme in 2004-05 was $10.5 million with $7 million in unspent funds rolled over into 2005-06.

A total of $33.3 million is available for projects in 2005-06. This increase reflects:

  • the rollover of funds from 2004-05 ($7.0 million), and
  • the inclusion of the Regional Flood Mitigation Programme (page 150) from 1 July 2005 ($17.3 million).
Overall performance

Table 4.7 - Distribution of Natural Disaster Mitigation Programme funds in 2004-05

State/territory
Allocation ($000)
Total payment ($000)
NSW
4 774
2 877
VIC
2 423
863
QLD
3 495
2 304
SA
1 623
811
WA
3 108
2 092
TAS
344
247
NT
263
263
ACT
1 052
1 043
Total
17 082
10 500

Administered programme - Bushfire Mitigation
(Territories and Local Government)
Effectiveness
Fire trail networks are enhanced

This $15 million three-year programme was introduced in 2004-05 to facilitate the construction, maintenance and signage of fire trail networks across Australia. Costs are shared on a one third basis between the Australian, state/ territory and local governments.

A total of 1246 projects received funding in 2004-05. The types of projects that received funding ranged from trail maintenance through to the construction of bridges and creek crossings.

Funding applications are assessed and prioritised by state or territory assessment committees, comprised of key stakeholder representatives, prior to Australian Government approval.

Quality
Payments are made in line with project progress

Fifty per cent of programme funds are paid up front on approval of projects with remaining funds paid out in instalments on satisfactory progress of works.

For details of the allocations and actual payments made in 2004-05, see table 4.8 below.

Cost
$5.0m (introduced at Additional Estimates) The actual cost of this programme in 2004-05 was $5.0 million as planned. $5.0 million is available for approved projects in both 2005-06 and 2006-07. Applications for the 2005-06 funding round closed on 30 September 2005, with the programme oversubscribed.
Overall performance

Table 4.8 - Distribution of Bushfire Mitigation Programme funds in 2004-05

State/territory
Allocation ($)
Total payment ($)
NSW
$1 581 818
$1 581 818
VIC
$1 115 000
$1 115 000
QLD
$636 182
$636 182
WA
$650 000
$650 000
SA
$502 000
$502 000
TAS
$275 000
$275 000
NTa
-
-
ACT
$240 000
$240 000
Total
$5 000 000
$5 000 000

a The NT did not participate in the first year of the programme.

Administered programme - National Aerial Firefighting
(Territories and Local Government)
Effectiveness
The National Aerial Firefighting Centre is able to acquire and deploy firefighting aircraft around Australia

While bushfire fighting is largely a state responsibility, the Australian Government continues to contribute funding to the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) to acquire and deploy firefighting aircraft around Australia.

The NAFC covers all states and territories except for the NT, which decided not to participate in this national arrangement, but works with the NAFC to determine how it can benefit from the scheme.

Funding meets up to half of the lease costs of a range of firefighting aircraft, with the state or territory meeting the remaining lease and operating costs.

These arrangements allow resources to be redeployed to areas experiencing high fire risk and are an example of Australia's firefighting and land management agencies working cooperatively to provide greater community fire protection.

For more information about NAFC activities, visit www.nafc.org.au

Quality
Payments are made in line with the Australian Government's obligations The NAFC is required to provide the Australian Government with information on the acquisition, deployment, effectiveness and suitability of aircraft in meeting normal and crisis demand as well as value for money.
Cost
$5.5m The actual cost of this programme in 2004-05 was $5.5 million as planned.
$5.5 million a year is available until the end of 2006-07.
Overall performance

Did you know?

Bushfire seasons vary across different parts of Australia:

  • northern Australia experiences most of its fires during its dry and sunny winter and spring (the dry season')
  • for NSW and southern Queensland, the peak risk occurs in spring and early summer before the onset of the rainy weather common in summer, and
  • for the rest of Australia, summer and autumn are the most dangerous times of year.

For more information about bushfire weather, visit www.bom.gov.au/inside/services_policy/fire_ag/bushfire

Administered programme - Regional Flood Mitigation
(Territories and Local Government)
Effectiveness
Reduced cost to communities from the effects of flooding

To the end of 2004-05, this programme has provided over $53 million for 220 projects throughout Australia. Over 75 per cent of funds have gone to communities in NSW and Queensland-Australia's most flood prone states. Recent projects have included:

  • major flood mitigation schemes in Gawler (SA) and Carnarvon (WA)
  • construction and upgrading of levees in Lismore (NSW), Charleville (Queensland) and Longford (Tasmania)
  • installation of flood warning systems at Trebonne (Queensland) and Shepparton-Mooroopna (Victoria), and
  • relocation of a flood prone power station at Nauiyu (NT).

Applications for funding are received annually. Proposals are assessed and prioritised by state and territory assessment committees. The Australian Government has observer status on these committees.

From 1 July 2005, funding for the programme will be incorporated into the Natural Disaster Mitigation Programme. The Regional Flood Mitigation Programme will however continue to operate under its own guidelines and eligibility criteria for a further two years until it is fully integrated into the Natural Disaster Mitigation Programme from 1 July 2007.

Quality
Average annual damage estimate is reduced

The actual damage caused by floods varies considerably from year to year, depending on the location and amount of rainfall. However, a 2001 report by the BTRE found that floods are Australia's most costly disaster type and cost Australia over $370 million a year on average.

In 2004-05 severe and widespread flooding caused significant damage in south Queensland and in central and northern NSW, to the point where Coolangatta International Airport had to close briefly.

Despite the extent of flooding and damage, it was pleasing to see how many flood mitigation projects we had previously funded on behalf of the Australian Government prevented significant damage (see case study).

Location
Rural and regional Australia and outer metropolitan areas Funds are allocated on a notional basis according to flood risk and average annual damages. As with other disaster mitigation programmes, funds not taken up are offered for reallocation. For details of allocations and actual payments made in 2004-05, see table 4.9 below.
Cost
$12.1m

The need to align the funding cycle of this programme with the Natural Disaster Mitigation Programme saw the announcement of successful projects in 2004-05 occur in December 2004, some six months into the start of the financial year. This had a significant impact on the progress of works and expenditure of programme funds.

Thus, while the programme's budget was fully committed, the actual cost of this programme in 2004-05 was $11.3 million.

Overall performance

Case Study D3 : It's official: Lismore's flood levy works!

Table 4.9 - Distribution of Regional Flood Mitigation funds in 2004-05

State/territory
Allocation ($000)
Total payment ($000)
NSW
6720
4630
VIC
227
485
QLD
3506
3632
SA
1138
341
WA
2452
1534
TAS
274
156
NT
475
475
ACT
n/a
n/a
Total
14 792
11 253

Administered programme - Natural Disaster Relief Arrangements
(Territories and Local Government)
Effectiveness
The cost of disaster recovery measures to state and territory governments is reduced

The Natural Disaster Relief Arrangements (NDRA), which were first formalised more than 30 years ago, provide partial reimbursement to states and territories for costs associated with relief and recovery following rapid onset natural disasters.

In 2004-05 this programme reimbursed most states and territories for costs associated with:

  • relief of personal hardship and distress, such as provision of emergency food, clothing, accommodation and house repairs ($8.4 million)
  • restoration or replacement of essential public assets damaged as a direct result of a disaster ($59.3 million), and
  • concessional loans to farmers, small businesses, individuals and voluntary non-profit bodies to replace assets that have been significantly damaged ($0.72 million).
Quality
Funding is available in respect of all major rapid onset natural disasters

Disasters covered by the programme include bushfires, cyclones, earthquakes, floods, storms, storm surge, landslides (resulting from an eligible disaster), tornados and meteorite strikes.

In 2004-05, 29 major disasters were notified affecting all states and the NT. Disasters included nine bushfires, 10 storms, seven floods and three cyclones.

A review of the NDRA, in accordance with recommendations provided in the 2002 COAG report, Natural Disasters in Australia - reforming mitigation, relief and recovery arrangements, is being conducted in consultation with state and territory governments.

The Australian Government has already enacted changes to enable costs to be reimbursed for disaster events where arson was involved. This was considered to be important by COAG as precluding such claims under the NDRA could deprive innocent individuals and communities affected by disasters from receiving assistance.

State and territory governments are reimbursed for eligible expenses within 21 days of submitting a claim Payments are made in response to claims from states and territories. In 2004-05 the department continued to pay most claims within 21 days of the claim being received. Most funding went to NSW ($38 million), followed by Queensland ($15 million) and WA ($11 million).
Cost
$89.5m The actual cost of this programme in 2004-05 was $67.6 million, and a provision of $89.5 million has been made for this programme in 2005-06. This amount is subject to regular review in light of the claims we expect to receive.
Overall performance

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