Giving with one hand and...

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Australian Government Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) re-evaluates annual budget settings (announced each May for the July to June Financial Year (FY)).

The 2016-17 FY MYEFO released on 18 December 2016 still aims to achieve a modest budget surplus by June 2021. It includes two 'zombie' measures measures of note for heritage. (Zombie measures are not yet approved by Parliament but are factored into the revised budget bottom line.)

In probably the largest digital infrastructure funding boost to a national cultural institution ever the National Library of Australia (NLA) is scheduled to receive $16.4 million over four years for Trove, whose threatened axing drew the ire of many around Australia who find the resource irreplaceable.

See our news item on this from April 2016 'From deadline 2025 to Trove under threat

But this gain has to be weighed up against the axing of 28 jobs at the NLA in the May budget announcements under 'efficiency dividend' cuts.

See our last news item on this scourge for cultural institutions from June 2016 'The Spotlight is on the Efficiency Dividend, but to what avail?'

Click here to read the ABC's news item for more about this NLA equation.

And what about the National Film and Sound Archive's (NFSA) appeal for $10 million to save its critically endangered magnetic heritage?

The NFSA's Director is heading back to Austria after five years struggling with Australian Government budgetary challenges, leaving the NFSA ship in the best shape possible for the next incumbent.

Click here to read about Michael Loebenstein's achievements against the odds.

A further direct budget cut in MYEFO is the Green Army Program. It will net $224.7 million in savings over the coming four years. $63.4 million in savings will go to budget repair. $161.3 million is to be redistributed to Landcare, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Antarctic Programs.

Click here to download (2.7MB) and read page 154 of the official MYEFO document that deals with the closure of the Green Army Program.

Click here to read an article which elicits the meanings of MYEFO 2016-17.

We have pointed to concerns about the Green Army Program as a youth employment program targeting environmental clean-up which also embeds the cleaning up of heritage sites.

See our news item from three years ago 'Speak up for Heritage in the Green Army' over heritage concerns about the Green Army.

The final report of the review of the three-year Green Army Program is due to be delivered to Parliament 'early in 2017'. Its publication is subject to Ministerial approval. You will hear from us about its contents if and when it becomes publically available.

Click here to read more about the terms of the Green Army Program Review.

Click here to read a short history about this Abbott Government Program (which is actually an extension of a long-running program introduced by the Keating Government in the early 1990s) and the possible reasons for closure of the Program in advance of the review's publication.

Note that heritage is not a beneficiary from the Green Army Program budgetary redistributions, despite being funding starved, while Antarctica is presented as a heritage matter. 

The former Minister of the Environment, Greg Hunt MP, began to talk about Antarctica as heritage immediately upon the accession of the Abbott Government, referring to spending on a new Centre for Antarctic and Southern Ocean Research ($24 million) and an extension to Hobart Airport ($38 million) as part of Heritage Protection in his Four Pillars speech. The Four Pillars for a Cleaner Australia were announced as Clean Air, Clean Water, Clean Land and Heritage Protection.

Click here to read a transcript of the Four Pillars speech, delivered in November 2013.

Soon after Heritage Protection was switched for Antarctica as the fourth pillar in the Department of the Environment's 2014-2018 Strategic Plan.

Click here to read the Department of the Environment's 2014-18 Strategic Plan (already archived).

How did heritage come to be so consistently in the taking hand of the Australian Government?

Posted on Sunday, January 1, 2017 (Archive on Monday, January 1, 0001)
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