NATIONAL SECURITY, border protection and stronger legal and law enforcement institutions were the focus of funding commitments announced by the Government in the Federal Budget.
A statement from the federal Attorney-General’s and Justice and Customs departments said the Government had pledged an additional $1.7 billion over four years to their portfolios. This includes an additional $330 million in the 2005-06 Budget to improve national security, in particular counter-terrorism capabilities in Australia and the region. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s investigative, analytical and technical capabilities will be increased and a new unit will be established to coordinate training and further regional cooperation.
Continued funding for the operation of the National Security Hotline and implementation of Australia’s Continuity of Government plan will be made available to the Attorney-General’s department, along with $280.2 million to expand and establish new services for family assistance. Also, $23.7 million will fund increased workloads in the department.
Funding of $24.7 million, in addition to continued funding of $1 million to the National Pro Bono Resource Centre, will help to increase access to justice and physical security in all Federal Courts. This will include the appointment of two more magistrates to the Federal Magistrates Court in Sydney and the appointment of a full-time President and support staff to enable the Australian Competition Tribunal to carry out its proposed new roles under the Trade Practices Legislation Amendment Bill (No.1) 2005.
The funding will also provide for additional staff to meet workload increases at the High Court.