Federal Budget Snapshot

As anticipated, there are few new measures directly benefitting museums in the Commonwealth Federal Budget released last night.

Commentators have suggested that funding for the arts and cultural heritage will decrease over the next two years, despite the government’s commitment through Creative Australia, the national cultural policy it announced in March. Overall spending on arts and cultural policy will be $1.18 billion this financial year, dropping to $1.16 billion next financial year (Jacqueline Maley SMH 15 March 2013).

Creative Australia

The budget contains the following measures which had been announced earlier in Creative Australia:

  • a boost of $75.3 million over four years for the Australia Council for the Art
  • an additional $40 million over four years to the Regional Development Australia Fund
  • Base funding for six state performing arts companies, including the Bangarra and Belvoir theatres in NSW and the Malthouse theatre and Circus Oz in Victoria, has been increased by $9.3 million over four years
  • $25.2 million will go towards the revival of Australia’s indigenous languages, and the development of indigenous arts centres
  • $8.6 million will be spent on initiatives to encourage private-sector support for the arts, a response to the Mitchell Review of 2011, which examined ways to encourage philanthropists to take an interest in the arts scene.  This will provide additional funding to support a matched funding initiative ($7.1 million over two years), a crowd sourcing initiative ($1.0 million over two years) and a micro loans scheme for the arts sector ($0.5 million over two years); and transfer a number of private sector support programs to the Australian Taxation Office and implementation of new programs related to the recognition of donors to the arts, awareness raising and advisory services
  • $8.0 million over two years to a ‘young stars’ program to provide financial assistance to young people up to 25 years of age to put toward the cost of representing their community in training, cultural, artistic, academic or community based activities and events
  • $9.7 million over four years from 2013‑14 to the Australia Council for the Arts to continue the ArtStart program. ArtStart, established in 2009‑10, provides start‑up financial assistance to recent art graduates to develop their professional art practice into a sustainable business. One‑off grants of up to $10,000 will continue to be provided to individual graduate artists to enable them to create a major work or event or build their portfolio
  • $3.4 million over four years from 2013‑14 to establish the ArtsReady program to support skills development in secondary schools and the arts industry
  • $20.0 million over three years from 2012‑13 to Screen Australia to establish and administer an Australian Interactive Games Fund to help support the development of the interactive video gaming industry in Australia
  • $41.6 million payment to the film industry to attract major international productions, including the filming of Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo.

Anzac Centenary Program 2014-18

The Government will provide an additional $25.0 million over four years for the Anzac Centenary Program 2014‑18 to support the implementation of the recommendations of the Anzac Centenary Advisory Board’s report to Government on the Anzac Centenary program, including:

  • $10.0 million in seed funding for the Anzac Centenary Travelling Exhibition, with the balance of costs to be funded from the Anzac Centenary Public Fund; and
  • $2.7 million to commemorate the departure of the first convoy of ships carrying members of the Australian Imperial Force and the New Zealand Expeditionary Force that departed from Albany, Western Australia, on 1 November 1914.

As part of this measure the Australian War Memorial will receive additional funding of $10m and the National Archives of Australia $3.4m in 2013-14.

The Government will also provide additional funding of $7.5 million in 2013‑14 for the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program which is designed to help local communities around Australia commemorate the Anzac Centenary. The Government has also decided to make all Anzac Centenary Local Grants funding available in 2013‑14, to ensure that grant recipients have the opportunity to complete projects in time for the Centenary.

This measure builds on the 2012‑13 Budget measure titled Anzac Centenary Program 2014‑18 and brings the total amount of Government funding for the Anzac Centenary program to more than $140 million to 2018‑19.

The Government will also specifically list the Anzac Centenary Public Fund as a deductible gift recipient (DGR). Taxpayers may claim an income tax deduction for certain gifts of money or property to DGRs. This measure has an estimated cost to revenue of $7.5 million over the forward estimates period.

Science and Research

  • The Government will provide $185.9 million over two years to continue the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy, which funds the operation and maintenance of critical national research infrastructure. This funding will allow the most critical existing research facilities to continue to deliver maximum benefits to the research community.  A review and evaluation will be undertaken to plan and manage strategic, long‑term future funding and investments in research infrastructure, in line with the National Research Investment Plan.
  • The Government will provide $135.3 million over five years (including $35.1 million in 2017‑18) to continue the Future Fellowships scheme in 2014. Up to 150 additional four‑year fellowships, with an estimated value of up to $211,266 per annum, will be offered to outstanding mid‑career researchers to conduct their research in Australia. In addition, each researcher’s administering institution will receive up to $50,000 per annum for costs directly related to the future fellow’s research including infrastructure, equipment and travel.
  • $30.9 million over four years to increase the base level funding for the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) to meet the increasing cost of marine research, including the operation of two purpose—built coastal research vessels and specialised marine laboratories.  This measure also includes $1.5 million in 2013—14 for the commissioning and operation of the National Tropical Sea Simulator, a marine research aquarium facility currently under construction at AIMS’ headquarters in Townsville.

Other areas of interest

  • The Government has announced a later start date for the 2011‑12 Budget measure Not‑for‑profit sector reforms — introducing a statutory definition of ‘charity’. This measure will take effect from 1 January 2014, rather than 1 July 2013 as originally announced. This measure is estimated to have a small but unquantifiable cost to revenue over the forward estimates period.  The new start date will provide time for the Australian Charities and Not‑for‑profits Commission to develop guidance for charities regarding the definition.  The proposed statutory definition of charity preserves common law principles and provides greater clarity and certainty about the meaning of ‘charity’ and ‘charitable purpose’.

For further information see Federal Budget Papers 2013-14.