House of Representatives

Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Bill 2020

Guarantee of Lending to Small and Medium Enterprises (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill 2020

Guarantee of Lending to Small and Medium Enterprises (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Act 2020

Australian Business Growth Fund (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill 2020

Australian Business Growth Fund (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Act 2020

Assistance for Severely Affected Regions (Special Appropriation) (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill 2020

Assistance for Severely Affected Regions (Special Appropriation) (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Act 2020

Structured Finance Support (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill 2020

Structured Finance Support (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Act 2020

Appropriation (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill (No. 1) 2019-2020

Appropriation (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Act (No. 1) 2019-2020

Appropriation (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill (No. 2) 2019-2020

Appropriation (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Act (No. 2) 2019-2020

Boosting Cash Flow for Employers (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill 2020

Boosting Cash Flow for Employers (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Act 2020

Explanatory Memorandum

(Circulated by authority of the Treasurer, the Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP)

Chapter 19 Assistance for Severely Affected Regions (Special Appropriation) (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill 2020

Outline of chapter

19.1 The Assistance for Severely Affected Regions (Special Appropriation) (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill 2020 gives effect to the Government's commitment to set aside $1 billion to support regions, communities and industry sectors most severely affected by the Coronavirus. The funds will be available to assist during the next few months and over the year ahead to ensure these communities are well placed to recover from the economic effects of the Coronavirus.

Context of amendments

19.2 The Government recognises that some regions, communities and industry sectors will be severely affected by the economic impacts of the Coronavirus. Those affected will be able to receive support through new or existing programs that are funded through the $1 billion set aside in the Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill.

19.3 It is expected that regions and communities that are heavily reliant on industries such as tourism, agriculture and education will be among those most severely affected by the economic impacts of the Coronavirus. The support provided by the Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill initially include:

funds to reimburse the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Director of National Parks for a reduction in their revenue from the waiver of government fees and charges for tourism businesses that operate in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and three Commonwealth National Parks;
additional assistance to help businesses identify alternative export markets or supply chains; and
targeted measures to promote the Australian tourism industry.

19.4 Further plans and measures to support recovery will be designed for affected industries and communities through the funding allocated in the Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill.

Summary of new law

19.5 The Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill appropriates $1 billion for the purposes of making payments to support regions, industry sectors and communities severely affected regions.

19.6 The Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill also allows the Minister to make rules setting out the circumstances in which the money appropriated by the Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill may be spent. The Minister will also be able to make rules that provide for another Minister to administer a specified amount appropriated by the Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill. This means that the support programs can be delivered by a range of Government agencies.

19.7 There must be no spending under the special appropriation after 30 June 2021.

Detailed explanation of new law

19.8 The Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill commences on the day after it receives Royal Assent. [Section 2 of the Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill]

19.9 The Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill includes a special appropriation of $1 billion for the purpose of making payments that will support those sectors, regions and communities that have been particularly affected by the economic impacts of the Coronavirus. This could include expenditure on:

programs to assist businesses and others identify alternative export markets or supply chains;
promoting tourism; and
support and recovery measures for affected communities, regions and industries.

[Section 4 of the Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill]

19.10 The Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill authorises the making of payments from the special appropriation to a State or Territory to support communities, regions and industry sectors affected. This gives the Government the ability to tailor the delivery mechanism for the funds as required on a case-by-case basis. [Section 4 of the Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill ]

19.11 The Government has committed to waive the Environmental Management Charge for tourism businesses that operate in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and park entry fees for Kakadu, Uluru and Booderee National Parks until the end of 2020. The special appropriation will be used to reimburse the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Director of National Parks for these fees and charges to ensure that there is no overall reduction in their revenue. The special appropriation could also be used to reimburse other Commonwealth entities if required. [Sections 3 and 4 of the Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill]

19.12 All spending under the special appropriation must be before 30 June 2021. The special appropriation is intended to provide short-term relief for affected regions, communities and industry sectors, so it is appropriate for the authorisation to spend money from the special appropriation to end at this time. [Section 8 of the Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill]

Agreements relating to spending

19.13 Spending under the special appropriation must be agreed in writing between the recipient of the funds and the Commonwealth. The Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill requires that the recipient comply with the terms and conditions of the agreement. This will ensure appropriate oversight and governance of the amounts spent. [Sections 3 and 5 of the Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill]

19.14 The written agreement with a recipient can be entered into by a Minister or the accountable authority of a non-corporate Commonwealth entity (for example, the head of an agency or secretary of a department). [Sections 3 and 5 of the Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill]

19.15 The power to enter into an agreement may be delegated to a senior executive officer of a non-corporate Commonwealth entity. This will allow senior officials to enter into agreements for expenditure under the appropriation. A delegate must comply with any directions provided by the Minister or accountable authority of a non-corporate Commonwealth entity who made the delegation. [Sections 3 and 6 of the Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill]

The Minister may make rules

19.16 It is expected that much of the spending that will be funded from the special appropriation will be extensions of existing programs or arrangements. This is likely to include spending across a range of Government agencies and portfolios.

19.17 To enable the special appropriation to be used in this way, the Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill includes provisions that allow the Minister to set amounts to be appropriated for specified purposes under the Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill and to allow other Ministers to administer amounts appropriated. [Section 6 of the Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill]

19.18 The rules can also provide authority for the spending of money appropriated under the Act. Legislative authority for spending from the special appropriation could come from these rules, from the purposes of the special appropriation or from another source (for example, the Financial Framework (Supplementary Powers) Regulations 1997 or arrangements made under the Industry Research and Development Act 1986). [Section 6 of the Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill]

19.19 The Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill allows the Minister to make rules to ensure that arrangements for the administration of amounts appropriated can be put in place quickly to ensure those regions, communities and industry sectors most affected by the Coronavirus can be provided with support as soon as is practicable . This will ensure that the Government can respond rapidly to provide support to industries, communities and regions as required. The rules can also authorise the use of funds by another Minister, but cannot create an offence or civil penalty, provide powers of arrest, detention, search, or seizure, impose a tax, or amend the text of the primary law. The rules are subject to Parliamentary scrutiny and disallowance in accordance with the requirements set out in the Legislation Act 2003. [Section 7 of the Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill]

Application and transitional provisions

19.20 The Assistance for Severely Affected Regions Bill commences on the day after the Bill receives Royal Assent.


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