Tonight’s federal budget, as anticipated, provided an unprecedented level of government spending aimed at jobs and recovery. By putting money into businesses and cash into people’s pockets, the government is banking on Australia emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic in better shape than other national economies.
While there remain concerns about long term job security for library and information workers, the budget offers some positive outcomes for individuals employed in the sector.
- The ALIA LIS pay and employment snapshot 2020 was based on a survey of more than 1,600 workers, with only 6% earning $120,000 per annum or more. On this basis, more than nine out of 10 library workers are likely to benefit from the significant income tax cuts announced by the Treasurer this evening.
The budget also offers good news for our major collecting institutions and partner organisations.
- The Arts Minister had already revealed funding of nearly $23 million in 2020-2021 as COVID relief for the national cultural institutions, including $5.4 million for the National Library of Australia. Budget measures this evening include an additional $31.2 million over four years to assist these institutions with capital works, storage and digitisation projects, and to support Trove.
- The Minister, in his Communications role, announced $39.4 million in new funding for the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. This is in addition to the previously allocated $10 million in 2020-2021 to pay for the increased need with COVID online activity.
- In related news, over the next four years, an additional $28.3 million will go towards extending the Be Connected Program. ALIA has worked with the Office of the eSafety Commissioner and Good Things Foundation to assist the delivery of this digital literacy program for Australians aged over 50 through partnerships with public libraries across Australia.
- The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) will receive an additional $10.1 million over four years to facilitate the return of more than 100,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage items to traditional owners and custodians.
- $8.9 million over three years from 2020-2021 will increase the capabilities of the Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences and Indigenous e-research platforms, to improve the way researchers discover, access, curate and analyse Australia’s social, cultural, heritage and Indigenous data.
Other items flagged:
- An additional $4.5 billion investment in NBN Co will bring ultra-fast broadband to millions of families and businesses. Funding of $29.2 million will also accelerate the rollout of the 5G network.
- Universities Australia welcomed the $1.5 billion in budget support for university research and students, which provides a boost for this sector which has experienced significant adverse effects from COVID-19.
- The government will provide $1.4 million over two years from 2020-2021 to establish the Australian Broadband Advisory Council to assist in maximising the economic benefits of increased digital connectivity for Australian business and consumers.
- The government approved the Judith Neilson Institute and Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom as two of the organisations to benefit from Deductible Gift Recipient status, citing this as support for public interest journalism.
- As previously announced, the Darwin City Deal will receive $74.8 million over three years from 2019-2020 to fast-track the construction of a university campus and library in the city centre.