3. Public Order and Safety
NATURE OF OUTLAYS
The purpose of these outlays is to provide the Australian community with appropriate legal services and protection under the law. They cover courts and related legal services (other than those concerned with industrial relations), legal aid, law enforcement, security and intelligence services and a range of other public safety activities.
This function includes outlays of the following portfolios:
Chart 1. Overview of Commonwealth Outlays on
Public Order and Safety
TRENDS IN PUBLIC ORDER AND SAFETY OUTLAYS
Outlays on Public Order and Safety increased in 1991-92, largely due to the purchase of land for the Brisbane Court Building, the installation of the Legal Office Information System (LOIS) within the Attorney-General's Department and the preparation of war crimes legislation.
The transfer of funding for legal services to other functions in 1992-93 led to a reduction in outlays in this function. This trend continued in 1993-94 as projects under the Courts Construction Programme and LOIS were completed. Outlays rose again in 1995-96 as the first initiatives of the Justice Statement commenced.
The peak over the period 1996-97 to 1997-98 reflects the Commonwealth Government's contribution to the National Firearms Programme. These costs mainly constituted the Commonwealth's reimbursement of payments made by the States and Territories to firearm owners, dealers and collectors who surrendered guns as part of the compensation-for-surrender scheme. The reimbursement was funded from the gun levy collected as a one-off increase in 1996-97 of 0.2 per cent in the Medicare levy, raising approximately $500 million. It is now estimated that $40 million of the $500 million will be expended in 1998-99. The gun amnesty expired in September 1997 and Commonwealth reimbursements to the States will be completed in 1998-99.
The budget and forward estimates indicate that the real value of outlays will continue to decline from a peak in 1996-97. The measures that most affect the forward estimates include: the winding down of the National Firearms Programme; changes to the financing arrangements for the construction of the Melbourne Law Courts building; the limiting of Commonwealth legal aid contributions to matters arising under Commonwealth law; and divestment and restructuring of commercial business units in the Attorney-General's portfolio.
These reductions have been partly offset by increases in funding to the Federal Court of Australia for native title matters, to the National Crime Authority to target fraud against the Commonwealth and other related crime, and two stages of the National Illicit Drugs Strategy.
1998-99 and forward estimates
3.1 COURTS AND LEGAL SERVICES
Outlays under this subfunction include payments for:
3.2 SECURITY AND INTELLIGENCE SERVICES
Outlays under this subfunction include the operations of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service and the Office of National Assessments. These agencies collect and assess information relevant to protection against threats to Australia's national interests. Other activities include the physical and technical security at overseas posts, counter-terrorist training and equipment, and the operations of the Office of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security.
3.3 CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
These outlays provide for law enforcement and associated investigation activities and include:
3.4 OTHER PUBLIC ORDER AND SAFETY
This subfunction incorporates all other outlays on Public Order and Safety activities such as: