Home Affairs: Regional Australia—A Stronger Economy Delivering Stronger Regions 2018–19

The Home Affairs portfolio has policy and programmatic responsibility for:

  • Commonwealth law enforcement and counter-transnational and serious organised crime
  • counter-terrorism
  • cybersecurity policy and coordination
  • counter-foreign interference
  • transport and civil maritime security
  • emergency management and critical infrastructure protection
  • border protection and the facilitation of trade and travel
  • immigration and citizenship
  • multiculturalism and social cohesion.

The portfolio brings together the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Border Force (ABF), the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC). Subject to the passage of additional legislation, the portfolio will also include the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

The Department of Home Affairs includes the entirety of the former Department of Immigration and Border Protection and elements from the Attorney-General’s Department relating to national security, critical infrastructure, emergency management and criminal justice; aviation and maritime security (previously the Office of Transport Security) from the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities; multicultural affairs from the Department of Social Services; and functions relating to counter-terrorism coordination and cyber policy from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The portfolio is structured to benefit from the collaboration and alignment of sustained joint agency effort. Through Home Affairs, the Australian Government is leveraging the very best of our agencies to ensure we continue to build the Australian economy, a united and socially cohesive society, and a safer and more secure country for all Australians.

New Initiatives

Border protection, seaports and airports

The protection of Australia’s borders and ports of entry critically underpins the safety of all Australians, including from terrorism, foreign interference and illegal migration. The Home Affairs portfolio’s work secures borders, seaports and airports throughout Australia, ensuring that regional communities remain connected to, and competitive in, a national and global network of trade, travel and tourism.

The Australian Government will provide funding of $293.6 million over four years from 2018-19 for the new aviation security initiatives to improve the security of Australian airports and travellers—important infrastructure underpinning regional tourism and economies. These initiatives include improved screening at airports, strengthening airport precinct security and strengthening security outcomes in air cargo and mail.

Emergency management and critical infrastructure

Regional Australia is particularly and acutely affected by natural disasters, such as bushfires, floods, drought and cyclones and is reliant on critical infrastructure, such as roads, rail and electricity networks. The Home Affairs portfolio includes Emergency Management Australia and the Critical Infrastructure Centre; managing on average $1 billion of contingent Commonwealth spending every year to supplement state and territory efforts to prepare for, mitigate and recover from natural disasters. This represents approximately 60 per cent of the total expenditure across all levels of government.

In this year’s Budget, the Australian Government announced that the portfolio will bolster the resilience of regional Australia to the financial and economic impacts of natural hazards.

Combating crime at home and abroad

Home Affairs will broaden and intensify the fight against serious and organised crime. Criminal groups can cause extensive and lasting damage to regional communities, individuals and economies through a range of illicit activities including child exploitation, drug peddling, use and sale of illegal firearms and tobacco, and money laundering. For example, the escalating use of methamphetamines in rural areas has created a fertile environment for organised criminal elements, including outlaw motorcycle gangs, to profit and causes lasting harm to the community and increases the prevalence of violence and other crime.

Technology is creating new opportunities for criminal activity as well as enabling traditional crime. Home Affairs will broaden and intensify the fight against serious and organised crime, making our society and economy a hostile environment for criminal activity.

New initiatives within the portfolio include:

  • Building a National Criminal Intelligence System to provide a national and unified picture of criminal activity ($59.1 million over four years from 2018-19)
  • Establishing the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation ($68.6 million over four years from 2018-19)

Cyber Resilience for a connected society

In an increasingly globalised and digital world, technology connects even the most remote communities and individuals with others around the country and world. This not only contributes to social well-being and harmony, but prosperity—providing a platform for Australian enterprise.

The Home Affairs portfolio will strengthen the safety, security and confidence in our cyber systems. Cybercrime, including hacks, scams and identity theft is on the rise, becoming more sophisticated, and can be conducted from anywhere in the world. The Home Affairs portfolio will coordinate national efforts to increase cyber security and protect Australians from cybercrime by closely aligning cyber policy with domestic security to deliver a safer internet and protected community.

Secure and Efficient Trade and Travel

The economic success of regional Australia depends on the fast and efficient movement of goods and people across our borders. Similarly, the integrity of our trade and travel processes protect Australians from criminal and terrorist threats, illicit travel, and prohibited imports such as drugs, asbestos and child pornography.

The Home Affairs portfolio is pursuing a future where government has a single, real‑time view of the border, people and goods crossing in and out of Australia. Digital, intelligent and automated processes underpinned by data, biometrics and partnerships with industry and foreign governments will allow Australian’s more facilitated, streamlined and competitive access to overseas markets.

This year, the portfolio will invest to:

  • Lead the development of Australia’s trade modernisation agenda to launch Australian industries and producers and tourism into the future.
  • Scope the development of a single window for international trade (single window) to consolidate, align and centralise how traders interact with Australian Government agencies.
  • Expand the Australian Trusted Trader program to provide greater benefits to participants and boost participation by trusted entities.

Current Initiatives

The creation of the Home Affairs portfolio carries forward initiatives from previous Budgets across the range of departments and agencies. Along with the broader portfolio responsibilities and outcomes already outlined, specific Budget investment relates to federal law enforcement, transport security, criminal justice, emergency management, multicultural affairs, immigration, trade, travel and border-related functions to keep Australia safe, harmonious and prosperous.

Australian Trusted Trader

Australian Trusted Trader, a trade accreditation scheme, is improving the competitiveness and global-market access of Australian businesses including agribusiness, fisheries, mining and manufacturing. Independent economic modelling estimates that there will be significant household consumption and business investment increases over a ten-year period resulting from the trade facilitation benefits of Australian Trusted Trader.

Our North, Our Future—Business, Trade and Investment Gateway

Following the lead of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science under the Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia the portfolio will attract more investment and international tourism to Northern Australia in the final year of a four year, $26.9 million investment.

Emerging International Airports

The portfolio will continue to support emerging international airports as hubs for trade, tourism and investment in regional Australia. In the 2018-19 Budget context, the Australian Government will provide ongoing funding for border clearance services at the Avalon airport and will continue to support and fund the Townsville, Sunshine Coast and Canberra airports.

The Migration Program

Australia’s migration program continues to support Australia’s growth—stimulating economic growth, addressing skills shortages, and contributing to diversity and multiculturalism. In 2018-19, the portfolio will maintain 2017-18 levels (up to 190,000 places) with 128,550 places in the Skilled Stream, which will help to fill a range of needs in regional areas.

The migration program includes the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme and Regional Nominated visa category that helps businesses in regional, remote or low population growth areas to manage and grow by recruiting skilled workers and addressing labour shortages.

Safe Haven Enterprise Visa

The Safe Haven Enterprise Visa encourages enterprise through work and study at an area designated as ‘regional’ by the relevant state government.

Seasonal Worker Program

The Seasonal Worker Program provides beneficial seasonal labour from Pacific Island countries and Timor Leste to meet Australian labour shortages. The portfolio will continue to provide visa training and facilitation to enable these outcomes.

Working Holiday Maker Program

The Working Holiday Maker Program allows young adults from partner countries to take extended holidays in Australia and support their travels with work. A participant can acquire eligibility for a second Working Holiday visa by undertaking three months of ‘specified work’ in regional Australia incentivising contributions to regional areas.

Temporary Skill Shortage Visa

The Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (that replaced the 457 Visa in 2018) targets genuine skills shortages, including in regional Australia, and helps train Australians to fill those skills gaps in the medium-term. To be eligible, applicants must be trained in a listed occupation, with regional Australia having access to an additional twenty-four occupations.

Humanitarian Program

The portfolio supports humanitarian settlement in regional Australia by working with the Department of Social Services, local and state government, community groups and service providers.

Disaster Resilience Australia Package

The Australian Government provides $2.1 million funding each year to strengthen communities, individuals, businesses and institutions to minimise the adverse effects of disasters in Australia. Projects are designed to improve the ability to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters across social, economic, environmental and governance elements. While projects must achieve national outcomes, their application can benefit regional areas, as well as metropolitan, rural and remote areas.

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