House of Representatives

COVID-19 Disaster Payment (Funding Arrangements) Bill 2021

COVID-19 Disaster Payment (Funding Arrangements) Act 2021

Explanatory Memorandum

(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, the Hon David Littleproud MP)

NOTES ON PROVISIONS

Part 1 - Preliminary

Clause 1 Short title

1. Clause 1 of the Bill provides for the short title of the Act to be the COVID-19 Disaster Payment (Funding Arrangements) Bill 2021.

Clause 2 Commencement

2. Clause 2 of the Bill sets out the times at which the Act commences once passed by the Parliament.

3. A table in subclause (1) provides that the Bill commences on the later of 1 July 2021 and the day after the Act receives the Royal Assent (see column 2 of the table).

4. Subclause (2) provides that any information in column 3 of the table is not part of the Bill. Information may be inserted in this column, or information in it may be edited, in any published version of this Bill. The date of commencement will be inserted into column 3 when the Bill is given the Royal Assent.

Clause 3 Definitions

5. Clause 3 defines the term COVID-19 disaster payment to mean a payment or grant of financial assistance covered by item 492 of the table in Part 4 of Schedule 1AB to the Financial Framework (Supplementary Powers) Regulations 1997 (the FF(SP) Regulations).

6. Item 492 of the FF(SP) Regulations, at the time of introduction of the Bill, provides that a person qualified for a payment or grant where the person:

is an Australian citizen, permanent resident or the holder of a temporary visa who has the right to work in Australia; and
is aged 17 years or over; and
resides or is employed in a location in Australia that is, or resided or were employed in a location in Australia at a time that it was, subject to a State or Territory public health order restricting the movement of persons for a period of more than seven days and has also been determined by the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer to be a COVID-19 hotspot for the purposes of Commonwealth support; and
is, or was, unable to earn their usual income because restrictions imposed by the public health order prevent, or prevented. them from being able to work in their usual employment; and
other than annual leave, has, or had, no available leave entitlements to cover the period of the restrictions; and
declares that, during the period of the restrictions, they reside or are employed, or resided or were employed, in the hotspot area and have, or had, liquid assets of less than $10,000; and
is, or was, not, during the period of restrictions, otherwise receiving Commonwealth income support payment or payments of a similar nature, or the pandemic leave disaster payment (see item 434 of the table in Part 4 of Schedule 1AB to the FF(SP) Regulations).

7. Additional eligibility criteria may also apply under the COVID-19 Disaster Payment Guidelines, available on the GrantConnect website ( www.grants.gov.au ).

Part 2 - Appropriation

Clause 4 Appropriation

8. Clause 4 provides for a special appropriation for the COVID-19 Disaster Payment.

9. Subclause 4(1) provides that the Consolidated Revenue Fund is appropriated for the purpose of making COVID-19 disaster payments. Given that the payment is demand driven and entitlement based, the special appropriation established by subclause 4(1) is unlimited as to amount.

10. Subclause 4(2) sets out that the special appropriation in subclause (1) applies to COVID-19 Disaster Payments made on or after the commencement of clause 4 and before the end of 30 June 2022. This limitation reflects the time-limited nature of Commonwealth income support for the COVID-19 pandemic.

11. Given the proposal for the Bill to commence on 1 July 2021, as outlined in clause 2, the special appropriation in this clause will apply from the start of the 2021-22 financial year (subject to passage through the Parliament).

Part 3 - Annual report

Clause 5 Inclusion of information in the National Recovery and Resilience Agency's annual report

12. The NRRA is prescribed to be a 'listed entity' for the purpose of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (the PGPA Act), and the Coordinator-General of the NRRA is the 'accountable authority' for the agency (see section 15A of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014). This means that, under section 46 of the PGPA Act, the Coordinator-General is required to prepare an annual report to the Minister responsible for the NRRA (currently in the Prime Minister's portfolio) about the NRRA's activities each financial year.

13. Clause 5 creates an obligation on the Coordinator-General of the NRRA to include information in the NRRA's annual report that relates to COVID-19 Disaster Payments made in each reporting period (see subclause (1)). The obligation will provide for the inclusion of information such as:

the total amount paid in COVID-19 Disaster Payments for the reporting period;
the number of payments granted, and the number of applications that were not granted;
if COVID-19 Disaster Payments are required for multiple events in the reporting period-the amount paid and number of claims for each event; and
qualitative information to assist with the interpretation of the abovementioned quantitative information.

14. These particular obligations have not been specified in primary legislation to reflect the fact that the nature and scope of required COVID-19 disaster payments, which are available on a demand driven basis, cannot be suitably quantified. It is noted that the Privacy Act 1988 applies to the NRRA and its officials, and that personal information will not be unreasonably disclosed in the NRRA's annual report.

15. Subclause 5(2) provides that the annual reporting obligation applies to each reporting period that ends after the commencement of this section. This means that, if the Bill does not commence until after 1 July 2021, the obligation to provide information relating to COVID-19 disaster payment will still be contained in the NRRA's 2021-22 annual report.


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