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Things you missed in government cash splash


Amid $8.6 billion of spending, it’s understandable some things in the Federal Budget might slip below the radar.

Beyond the headline-grabbing cost of living measures, ballooning debt and fuel relief, there’s plenty of other stuff the government has to address that more rarely makes the news.

Here’s some you may have missed.

A slice of $20.3 million has been set aside to provide three years’ worth of grants for “community-led tree planting projects”.

But not just any projects – these are specifically tree-plantings to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee.

The government noted that Her Majesty had planted an estimated 1500 trees during her 70-year-reign.

Every federal electorate in Australia has been allocated up to $100,000 for up to 10 grants.

Grants are available to plant trees to commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. (AP)

New home in the Solomon Islands

The timing is probably coincidence, but the government has allocated $65.2 million across four years to build and maintain “a new Chancery” for the Australian High Commission to the Solomon Islands in the capital city of Honiara.

The budget papers noted this was “in line with the Pacific Step-Up”.

However, it also comes after news that China and the Solomon Islands had settled on a deal for China to build a naval base in the Pacific nation – a move Australia has regarded with dismay.

The deficit for this year’s Budget is $78 million, better than forecast last year. (Orla Maher)

Black Summer grants extended

An extra $116.4 million will be allocated over three years through the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grant Program, increasing the total funding to $390 million.

The grants provide support for community projects to assist with both bushfire recovery and future resilience.

The Black Summer bushfires in 2019-20 were among Australia’s worst, and many communities have not yet recovered from the disaster.

Thousands of homes were destroyed and 26 people killed.

Firefighter
Black Summer bushfire grants have been extended. (A Fire Inside, Channel 9)

War crimes investigation boost

The Office of the Special Investigator is set to benefit from $6.7 million in 2022-23 to support the investigation and prosecution of potential war crimes in Afghanistan.

The majority of the funding – $3.9 million – will go to the Attorney-General’s Department to advise the OSI on international law, get legal assistance from foreign jurisdictions, and protect national security information.

The remaining $2.8 million goes to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to provide legal advice, including training for investigators and brief preparation.

Key announcements from this year's Federal Budget.
Key announcements from this year’s Federal Budget. (Orla Maher)

Millions for mozzie virus

The emergence of Japanese Encephalitis in Australia has prompted a $69 million funding package across two years from the government.

This will cover 135,000 doses of vaccine, health surveillance and modelling, funding for states and territories, and a national communications campaign.

More cameras in Parliament

The government will provide $29.7 million over four years for upgraded security at Parliament House.

This will include better CCTV, upgraded screening equipment, and an “expanded” Parliamentary Security Operations Room.

After the first four years, $800,000 a year has been allocated for upkeep.

Will you get a tax cut?
Will you get a tax cut? (Orla Maher)

In what’s being touted as the largest intelligence and cyber-security upgrade in Australian history, $9.9 billion over 10 years is being funnelled into the Australian Signals Directorate to deliver REDSPICE.

That’s the Resilience, Effects, Defence, Space, Intelligence, Cyber and Enablers package.

The government claimed it would double the ASD’s size, with 1900 new jobs in the next decade.

In pictures: The Federal Budget newspaper front pages

It is also part of Australia’s commitment to Five Eyes and AUKUS partners.

“REDSPICE will triple ASD’s offensive cyber capabilities and double its cyber hunt and response activities, preserving ASD’s capability edge and delivering strategic advantage for Australia over the coming decade and beyond,” the budget paper said.

“The package will help ASD to keep pace with the rapid growth of cyber capabilities of potential adversaries, as well as being able to counter attack and protect our most critical systems.”

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