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Home Affairs

The Department of Home Affairs (the Department) provides centrally coordinated strategy and policy leadership to support the Home Affairs Portfolio (the Portfolio). The Portfolio includes the Australian Border Force, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre. A strategy-led and coordinated approach ensures the Portfolio delivers outcomes for Australia’s rural and regional community on behalf of the Government.

The Portfolio has diverse responsibilities in supporting a prosperous, secure, and united Australia. These responsibilities include: managing and responding to civil contingencies and national emergencies; domestic elements of national security; critical infrastructure security, including transport security; federal law enforcement; criminal justice; cyber security; intelligence; border control; immigration and citizenship; humanitarian issues; multicultural affairs; and trade related functions.

The Portfolio has a large and longstanding presence in regional Australia, delivering programs that provide tangible economic and social benefits to regional Australians including by delivering the security and social cohesion that underwrites economic prosperity. The Portfolio supports regional Australia through programs that protect rural and regional communities from evolving threats within and outside our borders, reduce the costs of doing business for exporters, attract international students and skilled migrants, and protect vulnerable workers and Australian jobs through compliance activities. The Portfolio will support the economic development and growth of regional Australia through continued investment in preparedness for, mitigating and recovering from natural disasters, such as bushfires.

The Home Affairs Portfolio has an operational presence throughout Australia, including in regional areas and remote locations, and in close proximity to international ports of entry to ensure Australia’s border is protected. As at 30 June 2020, the Department, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre employed 15,207 staff under the Public Service Act 1999. Of this total, 10,542 staff (69 per cent) are located in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne, 4,183 staff (28 per cent) are located in other capital cities and 482 staff (3 per cent) are located in other areas around Australia and internationally, based on operational requirements to support intelligence led, risk based interventions.

New initiatives

Simplified Trade System

The Australian Government will invest $28.6 million over the forward years from 2020-21 ($14 million in 2020-21) to enhance the efficiency of trade systems for Australia’s exporters and importers. This Simplified Trade System will support growth in investment and jobs. These reforms will lay the foundation to reduce compliance complexity for Australian businesses and make it easier for regional industries to be a part of global supply chains. The Simplified Trade System also encompasses the modernisation of export compliance systems through the Government’s Busting Congestion for Agricultural Exporters agenda.

Migration and Humanitarian Programs 2020-21

The 2020-21 Migration Program will drive economic recovery, encourage investment and support job creation. This will be done by giving priority to highly skilled migrants in the employer sponsored Business Innovation and Investor Program and Global Talent visa cohorts. The Migration Program will benefit regional communities through focussing on job-creating migrants and those who fill critical needs and contribute to economic recovery. The Migration Program planning ceiling of 160,000 places will be retained in 2020-21 with increased flexibility to shift skilled places to adapt to changing labour market and economic needs and will continue to include both regional components and state and territory nominated positions, which are frequently located in regional areas. The number of places available to Family visa categories will be increased to 77,300 places for 2020-21. Partner visas will be allocated a greater proportion of the program and partner applications sponsored by Australians in regional Australia will be prioritised.

Reflecting the Australian Government’s focus on migration to support economic recovery and job creation for Australians, the 2020-21 Humanitarian Program will be reduced from 18,750 to 13,750 places. The size of the Program will be a ceiling, like the Migration Program, rather than a target, in recognition of the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic to the delivery of the Program. The offshore Humanitarian Program will continue to prioritise settlement in regional Australia with a goal of 50 per cent by mid-2022.

National Aerial Firefighting Capability

The Australian Government will contribute an additional $11 million per year, indexed, from 2020-21, to a total of $26 million in 2020-21, to the National Aerial Firefighting Centre to ensure a national aerial firefighting capability is available to reduce the impact of bushfires on Australian communities, particularly in regional areas. The National Aerial Firefighting Centre arrangements allow state and territory operational fire chiefs and commissioners flexibility in accessing the right type and mix of aircraft in line with the seasonal fire risk. The additional funding will increase access for jurisdictions to specialised aerial firefighting resources, including large air tanker capability.

Safer Communities Fund

The Government will provide $35 million over four years from 2020‑21 to extend the Safer Communities Fund (SCF) for a sixth round. The SCF provides grant funding to local government and community organisations to address crime and anti‑social behaviour and to protect schools and community organisations that are facing risks from racial or religious intolerance.

Australian Federal Police Funding Model

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) will commence a new funding model in 2020-21 at a cost of $300.2 million over the forward estimates ($10.8 million in 2020-21). The model will ensure the AFP maintains its frontline policing capacity, enhances its surge capacity, and provides for a healthy and agile workforce. The model will also provide the AFP enhanced planning certainty and the ability to direct resources to the highest criminal risks and to strategically combat new or increasing risks to Australia and its national interests. COVID-19, for example, has required the AFP to take on new roles to support the integrity of Australia’s borders and protect the community from infection, including remote Indigenous communities.

Reactivate North West Point Immigration Detention Centre on Christmas Island

The North West Point Immigration Detention Centre on Christmas Island has been reactivated to receive 250 unlawful non-citizens including those released from prisons, but unable to be deported due to COVID‑19 travel and border restrictions. This measure will address capacity challenges in the immigration detention network and increase community safety while removal operations, including prison-to-plane removals are impacted by COVID-19.