Nation’s security high on budget agenda

The Abbott government has listed keeping Australians safe as one of its chief priorities, outlaying a massive $35 billion for defence, national security and law enforcement.


In handing down his second budget on Tuesday, Treasurer Joe Hockey told the parliament the government would not take “shortcuts” on national security.

The massive spend includes $450 million for federal police, spy agencies and community groups to counter extremism, on top of $630 million announced last year.

There is also $750 million in new money to extend and expand Australia’s military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and other areas in the Middle East as the nation continues to contribute to the war on terror and efforts at countering groups such as Islamic State.

The budget includes $131 million to help telcos and internet service providers upgrade their systems to enable them to collect customer metadata.

The highest responsibility of any government was the safety and security of its citizens, Mr Hockey said.

“When it comes to national security, there can be no shortcuts.”

Events as recently as last weekend, when a 17-year-old Melbourne boy was arrested in counter-terrorism raids, showed increasing the investment in national security would help prevent tragic incidents from happening.

The announcements on national security were accompanied by a glossy handout which outlined the threat to Australia.

“The number of high-risk terrorist threats being monitored by security agencies has doubled in the last year and is now around 400,” the document said.

And since 2001, there had been 70 arrests, 35 prosecutions and 26 convictions as a result of counter-terrorism operations.

Between September 2014 and April 2015, police made 22 arrests on seven counter-terrorism operations – almost one-third of all arrests as a result of counter-terrorism operations since 2001.

“The threat of terrorism is rising and ever evolving and our response must be swift and uncompromising,” Mr Hockey said, adding Australia must have the best counter-terrorism capabilities possible.


* Total of $1.2 billion in new funding for national security.¶

* $450 million to strengthen intelligence capabilities and counter extremist messaging.¶

* $131 million to assist telecommunications industry in collection of metadata.¶

Govt on track with defence spend promise

The Australian Defence Force has been given an extra $750 million to fund military operations in the Middle East and elsewhere, but more money will likely be needed amid expectations of extended deployments.


A total of $31.9 billion has been outlayed for Defence in the 2015-16 budget, as the government pushes towards delivering on a promise to increase expenditure in the portfolio to two per cent of GDP by 2023-24.

An analysis by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute has shown that spending in 2015-16 has already reached 1.92 per cent of GDP.

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews says the 2015-16 budget delivered on the government’s pledge.

“This path for growth reverses the damage done by Labor, which ripped $16 billion from Defence, reducing spending as a percentage of GDP to the lowest level since 1938,” he said.

But with a defence white paper due in August Mark Thomson, a senior defence analyst with ASPI, told AAP the 2015-16 budget was one with few surprises.

“On the eve of a white paper, this is what you’d expect,” he said.

“Defence funding is in a holding pattern pending the outcome of the decisions we’ll find out about in August.|”

Dr Thomson confirmed the 2015-16 budget put the government on track to meet its two per cent funding commitment.

The $750 million in additional funding to extend and expand military operations comes as the ADF takes part in efforts to counter terrorism, following the rise of groups such as Islamic State.

While the money goes to the ADF, it also featured in glossy release that showed the government had earmarked a massive $35 billion in 2015-16 for defence, national security and law enforcement.

Treasurer Joe Hockey said that “overseas, our military personnel are leading the fight against terrorism”.

The $500 million in savings in border protection had helped pay for the extra money for ADF operations.



* $31.9 billion in 2015-16, and total of $132.6 billion between 2015-16 and 2018-19. ¶

* Government on track to deliver on promise of defence spending being two per cent of GDP by 2023-24.¶

* $750 million in 2015-16 in new money to extend and expand military operations in Middle East, taking total in operations expenditure in 2015-16 to $910 million.¶

Fiorentina chasing improbable Europa comeback

Florence-based Fiorentina were thumped 3-0 by the Andalusian club in their semi-final, first leg in Seville last week and will have to match another Spanish side, Valencia, if they are to make the showpiece in Warsaw on May 27.


Valencia hammered FC Basel 5-0 after extra time in the second leg of their quarter-final last season to become the only team to overturn a 3-0 first-leg deficit in a knockout tie in Europe’s second-tier club competition.

“We know it’s a difficult task but it’s not impossible,” Fiorentina sporting director Daniele Prade said after Sunday’s 3-2 Serie A win at Empoli.

“This is a team that always manages to bounce back and always shows the necessary sacrifice,” he added.

“Our stadium has been our strength in recent years and we’ll need the fans more than ever on Thursday.”

Sevilla, meanwhile, are firmly on course to win a record fourth UEFA Cup/Europa League title, eclipsing Inter Milan, Juventus and Liverpool, who all have three.

The La Liga side won back-to-back UEFA Cups in 2006 and 2007 and beat Benfica on penalties in Turin to secure the renamed trophy last term.

Another triumph would secure them a lucrative berth in the group stage of next season’s Champions League.

Sevilla are fifth in La Liga with two games left and still have a chance of overhauling Valencia and securing fourth, which carries a place in the playoff round of Europe’s elite club competition.

“There are two ways we can get into the Champions League and we’ll just take each game at a time,” Sevilla forward Kevin Gameiro said after Sunday’s 1-1 La Liga draw at Celta Vigo.

“Anything can happen in football and we know we are going to have to suffer (on Thursday),” added the Frenchman.

Fiorentina’s Serie A rivals Napoli play at Ukrainian side Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in Thursday’s other semi-final, second leg after last week’s clash in Naples ended 1-1.

(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

Budget looks offshore for $8bn boost

How do you help fund a budget without causing pain at home?

Look offshore.


That’s what Treasurer Joe Hockey seems to have done in his federal budget with measures worth more than $8 billion to the bottom line targeting foreigners or international companies and markets.

The big ticket items include $6 billion in previously announced new trade agreements with China, Korea, and Japan.

“And we are expanding that to India which is the fastest growing economy in the world, but still a very small trading partner of Australia,” Mr Hockey said in his budget speech.

“If we could lift our service exports like higher education, tourism, health care and financial services to just half the level of our commodity exports, it would add $50 billion to our economy each and every year.”

A major saving for the budget is a $1 billion cut in foreign aid payments, but the treasurer has also targeted foreigners looking to do business in Australia.

This includes a Multinational Anti-Avoidance Law – soon to be introduced to parliament – to recover unpaid taxes by large international companies “cheating” by shifting profits overseas.

“Everyday Australians rightly believe that if a dollar of profit is earned here, then you should pay tax here,” Mr Hockey said on Tuesday.

To that end the treasurer announced an end to the $20,000 tax free threshold for foreigners on working holidays, which will save $5.4 million.

And there will be a new fee regime for foreign investment in Australia, delivering $735 million in revenue.

Foreign businesses supplying digital products and services will now be subject to GST, with the so-called “Netflix tax” set to raise $350 million.

Even Australians living offshore have been hit, with plans to reclaim $140 million over ten years in HECS debt owed by expatriates.


* Australian official aid budget cut to $4 billion in 2015-16, less than the $5 billion cut the previous year.

* $98.3 million over four years for five new overseas Australian missions;

– Doha, Qatar,

– Buka, Bougainville PNG,

– Makassar, Indonesia

– Ulaanbaatar Mongolia

– Phuket, Thailand

* Australian embassy in Washington to get a new home but cost unknown.

* $50 million towards a gender equality and women’s empowerment fund.

* $138.4 million over two years to continue diplomatic presence in Afghanistan and security.

* $106 million over two years continue diplomatic presence in Baghdad, Iraq and security.


– $6 billion in new trade agreements with China, Korea, and Japan

– $1 billion cut in foreign aid payments

– Multinational Anti-Avoidance Law to recover unpaid taxes by large international companies that shift profits overseas

– End to the tax free threshold of $20,000 for foreigners on working holidays, which will save $5.4 million

– New fee regime for foreign investment in Australia to deliver $735 million in revenue

– Foreign businesses supplying digital products subject to GST to raise $350 million

– Plans to reclaim $140 million over ten years in HECS debt owed by expatriates

Reef, roads to benefit from budget

Queensland is set to gain from the federal budget as Canberra rolls out a $5 billion fund to provide cheap loans for new rail and port projects and spends more on the highways and rail.


Queensland, along with WA and the Northern Territory, are the beneficiaries of a new Northern Australia low-interest loan facility, which will inject capital into projects from ports to power stations.

The 2015/16 federal budget has also set aside $500 million for Bruce Highway work, $50 million for the Gateway Motorway North, $317 million for the Toowoomba second range crossing, $101.5 million for the Warrego highway, $48 million for the Cape York region and $102 million for the Moreton Bay rail link.

An extra $100 million over four years from 2015/16 will improve water quality and protect threatened species and coastal habitat along the Great Barrier Reef via the Reef Trust.

The next phase of the “There’s nothing like Australia” global tourism campaign will focus on a major documentary about the reef by renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough.

Queensland’s GST entitlement is earmarked to rise from $11.75 billion in 2014/15 to $12.99 billion in 2015/16.

Funding for specific purpose payments and general revenue assistance will rise from $23 billion in 2014/15 to $28 billion over the next four years.

Schools funding under the coalition’s Students First program will go from $3.04 billion in 2014/15 to $3.8 billion in 2017/18, but will depend on the next funding negotiation due in 2017.

Health and hospitals funding from federal coffers will go from just over $3 billion in 2014/15 to $3.65 billion in 2017/18 when the funding formula will change from Labor’s national health reform model to CPI plus population growth.

Defence projects are set to provide jobs in Townsville, Amberley, Kokoda Barracks and Wide Bay, with scientific research benefiting from $42 million over four years spent on the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University.