The ‘cybersecurity and intelligence’ package will be rolled out over 10 years and will significantly add to Australia’s capacity to counter cyber threats.
It’s a welcome and much needed funding injection for an increasingly concerning issue, particularly as geopolitical tensions rise, said Governance Institute of Australia CEO Megan Motto.
“Governance Institute welcomes this substantial funding towards combating cybersecurity,” Ms Motto said.“It is essential that Australia keeps pace with the changing geopolitical situation in order to combat cyber threats.
While the budget’s focus on cybersecurity is welcomed, the lack of focus on climate change is surprising and the silence on a national anti-corruption watchdog is disappointing, Ms Motto said.
“It’s certainly a relief that the budget seems to no longer be in emergency response mode, instead casting forward and rebuilding. But with that forward planning there needs to remain a firm focus on climate change, particularly considering continuing natural disasters.”
Budget 2022: Key governance and risk takeaways
Here the Governance Institute outlines the key governance and risk announcements - and takeaways - from the 2022 federal budget.
A significant investment in strengthening Australia’s cybersecurity has been announced, with $9.9b over 10 years earmarked.
The funding will double the size of Australia’s Signals Directorate and significantly increase its capability to combat cyber threats. The key goals of the Signals Directorate will be to deliver a Resilience, Effects, Defence, Space, Intelligence, Cyber and Enablers package (REDSPICE).
The new package is also set to offer opportunities for employment and partnerships with educational institutions in the areas of data science and analysis, artificial intelligence, cyber security and ICT engineering.
“The geopolitical situation is changing and it’s critical that Australia is able to keep pace with global developments,” Ms Motto said.
There was nothing substantive announced in the budget in relation to climate change, indicating a very clear lack of strong policy and funding direction on this increasingly imperative issue, Ms Motto said.
“We now have daily reminders of the detrimental impact climate change is having on our country so there is simply no further excuse for delays.”
The Federal Government has announced $130.1m over four years for the ongoing roll out of the Digital Economy Strategy.
To “drive digital transformation” this funding includes $38.4m over three years, plus $12.6m per year from 2025-26 to roll out initiatives related to the Inquiry into the Future Directions for the Consumer Data Right.
“Australia has taken some great strides recently on technology, finally moving into the 21st century on items such as electronic and hybrid AGMs. This will continue to keep up that digital focus,” Ms Motto said.
Deregulation and modernising business communications
Fees attached to registry services will be reformed with $480.5m funding for the Modernising Business Registers initiative.
The Federal Government says in the budget papers: “This will simplify registry compliance obligations, improve the currency and accuracy of registry information and promote transparency and counterparty trust in commercial activities.”
Funding of $17m over two years has been announced for the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner “in undertaking its privacy and regulatory functions, including in relation to social media and other online platforms.”
The Federal Government has announced $468.3m for further implementation of their response to the aged care royal commission. This adds to the $17.7b funding announced in last year’s budget.
“It is so important that this hard-hit sector receives the support and funding it so desperately requires,” Ms Motto said. “The years ahead will be tough, even when the immediate impacts of the pandemic eventually subside.”
Commonwealth Integrity Commission
With integrity, transparency and accountability key tenets of good governance, there was a hope that this year’s budget would include long overdue funding for a Commonwealth Integrity Commission – but again, there has been no mention of this.
Draft legislation to establish the Commission remains stalled in a very long-term consultation process. Governance Institute has made a submission advocating strongly for the establishment of a Commonwealth Integrity Commission. But all continues to remain very quiet on this front.
Workplace culture and diversity
Following the release of the Respect@Work report in 2020, which found sexual harassment to be a pervasive issue in Australian workplaces, the Federal Government implemented several changes to address this issue. This looks set to continue with the budget putting aside $4.1m to roll out recommendations from the report.
This includes $2.6m to establish an Office of Parliamentarian Staffing and Culture and preparatory work for an Independent Parliamentary Standards Commission.
Governance Institute recently lodged a submission discussing changes to the Sex Discrimination Act and the possible introduction of a specialist regulator.
“We welcome this announcement, despite the modest funding amount that has been earmarked and hope these initiatives will help keep the spotlight on these important issues,” Ms Motto said.
This is an abridged version of a story which first appeared on the Governance Institute website on 29 March 2022.