Statement 8: Statement of Risks (Continued)
Compensation claims arising from equine influenza outbreak
The Australian Government may become liable for compensation should it be found negligent in relation to the outbreak of equine influenza in 2007.
On 12 June 2008, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry released the Equine Influenza Inquiry report. Subsequently, a significant number of organisations have indicated their intention to proceed with legal action against the Government. To date, 18 claims have been received. Court proceedings have commenced for two of these. The Department of Finance and Deregulation assumed responsibility for claims under its insurance arrangements with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement and Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed
The Australian, State and Territory governments and some peak agricultural industry bodies are parties to cost sharing agreements that specify how responses to emergency animal diseases and plant pest outbreaks will be funded. Under the terms of the agreements, the Commonwealth is typically liable for 50 per cent of total government funding to respond to a disease or plant pest outbreak and may also provide financial assistance to industry by funding its share of the response. Any funding of industry contributions would subsequently be recovered through a levy on the industry. Potential costs vary based on circumstances and are dependent on outbreaks of animal diseases or plant pests, the extent of outbreaks, frequency and location.
National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement
The Australian Government and each of the State and Territory governments have negotiated an agreement to manage pest or disease incursions that impact on the environment and how they should be funded. Once the agreement is endorsed by jurisdictions, the Commonwealth is typically liable for 50 per cent of the funding for any response. Potential costs vary, and are dependent on outbreaks of pests or disease, the extent of outbreaks, frequency and location. The initial commitment under the agreement is capped at $5.0 million in aggregate (of which the Commonwealth is liable for $2.5 million).
Financial assistance for victims of overseas terrorist acts
The Social Security Amendment (Supporting Australian Victims of Terrorism Overseas) Bill 2011 was introduced into Parliament on 24 March 2011. If passed, this legislation would establish a framework for the provision of financial assistance for Australians who are injured overseas as a result of terrorist acts and for close family members of Australians who are killed overseas as a result of terrorist acts. The legislation would enable the Prime Minister to declare that a relevant overseas terrorist incident is one to which the scheme applies. As acts of terrorism are unpredictable, the cost of the scheme is unquantifiable.
Indemnities relating to the Air Security Officer program
The Australian Government has entered into indemnity agreements with Australian airlines that agree to allow Air Security Officers on board their aircraft. The indemnity agreements limit the Government's exposure to a maximum of $2 billion per incident. The indemnity applies to the extent that any loss is not covered by existing relevant insurance policies held by the airline and only applies where the airline(s) can prove that an action on the part of an Air Security Officer under or in connection with the Air Security Officer program caused a loss.
Native Title agreements — access to geospatial data
The Australian Government has entered into agreements with state and territory government bodies and/or their agents to access their geospatial land tenure data, which is essential to support the National Native Title Tribunal in achieving its outcome. Under these agreements, the Australian Government provides indemnities against third‑party claims arising from errors in the data.
Native Title costs
The Australian Government has previously offered to assist the States and Territories in meeting certain Native Title costs pursuant to the Native Title Act 1993 (the NTA), including compensation costs. Consistent with the policy of considering this issue on a case by case basis, a National Partnership Agreement was executed in 2010 between the Commonwealth and Victoria, under which the Commonwealth will provide a contribution towards the settlement of two native title claims. No other agreements under this offer have been entered into to date.
The Australian Government will also be liable for any compensation found to be payable under the NTA in respect of compensable acts for which the Commonwealth is responsible.
The Australian Government's liability in both scenarios cannot be quantified due to uncertainty about the number and effect of compensable acts and the value of Native Title affected by those acts.
Northern Patrol and Response — Ashmore Guardian and Triton
The Australian Government has entered into contractual arrangements with Gardline Australia Pty Ltd for the provision of two vessels to strengthen enforcement activities in Australia's northern waters and to patrol and respond to incursions in the Ashmore Reef National Nature Reserve and the Cartier Island Marine Reserve. The contracts with Gardline Australia contain unquantifiable indemnities relating to the use or other operations of armaments and the presence of armaments on the vessel. They also contain unquantifiable indemnities relating to damage to any property or injury to any person caused by the apprehended or escorted persons or their vessels.
Southern Ocean Maritime Patrol and Response Program
The Australian Government has entered into a contract to provide a Civil Charter Vessel to conduct patrols in the Southern Ocean and northern waters to undertake law enforcement activities in relation to illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing as well as people smuggling activities. This agreement will remain in force until 30 June 2014. The Australian Government's contract contains unquantifiable indemnities relating to the use or other operations of armaments and ammunition and the presence of armaments and ammunition on the vessel. It also contains unquantifiable indemnities relating to damage to any property or injury to any person caused by the apprehended or escorted persons or their vessels.
NBN Co Limited — Board members' indemnities
The Australian Government has indemnified the directors of NBN Co Limited in relation to claims arising out of the directors' involvement in the negotiation and entry by NBN Co into the Financial Heads of Agreement with Telstra.
Termination of the funding agreement with OPEL
Following the termination of its funding agreement with OPEL Network Pty Ltd (OPEL) under the Broadband Connect Infrastructure program, the Commonwealth made provision towards costs incurred by OPEL in producing its Implementation Plan. OPEL was wound up on 13 March 2009. The liquidators of OPEL have indicated that they consider the Australian Government to have a liability with regard to the termination of the funding agreement. As at 11 April 2011, no legal proceedings have been filed; however, liquidators have indicated that they are prepared to commence legal proceedings with respect to this issue.
Kyoto Protocol — emissions target
As a party to the Kyoto Protocol, Australia is required to meet its target level for emissions over the first Commitment Period, 2008‑2012. According to the latest projections of emissions over the Commitment Period, Australia is on track to exceed its 2008‑2012 target. Estimates of the likely net balance and value of these permits will be determined closer to the end of the entire Commitment Period.
Indemnities and remote contingencies
Defence carries 9,306 instances of unquantifiable remote contingent liabilities, an increase on the 8,758 reported in the MYEFO. The DMO carries 568 instances of contingencies (including Foreign Military Sales) that are unquantifiable, an increase on the 525 reported in the MYEFO. While these contingencies are considered remote, they have been reported in aggregate for completeness.
ADI Limited — Officers' and Directors' indemnities
Under the sale agreements for ADI Limited, the Australian Government agreed to indemnify the directors, officers and employees for claims and legal costs associated with assistance related to the sale of the Australian Government's shares in the company. The Australian Government has provided an indemnity to ADI Limited for uninsured losses relating to specific heads of claims.
Decontamination of Defence sites
Defence has made financial provision for the possible costs involved in restoring, decontaminating and decommissioning Defence sites in Australia where a legal or constructive obligation has arisen. The potential costs of these liabilities are unquantifiable.
The Department of Defence is involved in a wide range of litigation and other claims for compensation and/or damages that may result in litigation where the matters are not able to be finalised by use of negotiation. The litigation includes common law liability claims, including for injury alleged to have resulted from the F‑111 Deseal/Reseal programmes. A number of claims have also been received for damage caused by the use of a Defence Practice Area. There is also the potential for a number of claims to arise out of reviews into ADF and Defence culture.
ASC Pty Ltd — Directors' indemnities
The Australian Government has provided former and two current directors of the ASC Pty Ltd (ASC) with indemnities in relation to three matters: for any claim against them as a result of complying with the ASC's obligations under the Process Agreement between the Electric Boat Corporation (EBC), the Australian Government and the ASC; for any claim against them as a result of complying with the ASC's obligations under the Service Level Agreement between the ASC, the Department of Defence, EBC and Electric Boat Australia; and for any claims and legal costs arising from the directors acting in accordance with the Board's Tasks and Responsibilities, as defined under the indemnity.
Australian Government domestic property
The Australian Government's domestic property portfolio managed by the Department of Finance and Deregulation has approximately 90 properties. A small number of these have had potential remediation issues identified which are currently the subject of further investigation. None of these properties has had a provision recognised as the conditions for neither legal nor constructive obligations have been met, nor is a reliable estimate of the obligation currently possible.
Australian Reward Investment Alliance — immunity and indemnity
The Superannuation Act 1976, the Superannuation Act 1990 and the Superannuation Act 2005 provide for specific immunities for activities undertaken in good faith by the trustees of the Australian Reward Investment Alliance (ARIA), the Commissioner for Superannuation and his/her staff, delegates of the trustee Board, and members of the Reconsideration Advisory Committee, provided these activities relate to the performance of their functions. These immunities do not prevent the trustee Board from being subject to any action, liability, claim or demand. Under the Superannuation Acts, other than in cases where the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 does not so permit, any money that becomes payable by the trustee Board in respect of such actions is to be paid out of the relevant fund. Where such payments are made, an equivalent amount is paid to the superannuation fund from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Comcover — insurance claims
Comcover provides general insurance services and promotes risk management across the Australian Government. Comcover provides for outstanding claims based on current information as disclosed in Comcover's financial statements. The nature of some claims means there is significant uncertainty around these estimates. Current claims that hold a high degree of uncertainty include those arising from the flood events in 2010‑11, cyclone losses, equine influenza and claims against ASIC made by three directors and 31 Westpoint Group companies following regulatory action by ASIC in 2005.
In addition, Comcover has exposure to claims from other Australian Government agencies associated with property damage and business interruption arising from the flood events and cyclone disasters which occurred early in 2010‑11.
Following from the settlement of claims associated with Pan Pharmaceuticals, Comcover is now in dispute with its reinsurers regarding the amount recoverable through reinsurance. Comcover has sought legal advice and is pursuing the amount that is considered recoverable.
Future Fund Board of Guardians — indemnity
The Australian Government has provided the members of the Future Fund Board of Guardians with a Deed of Indemnity. The indemnity is intended to cover liabilities in excess of the Future Fund Board's insurance policies. Members of the Future Fund Board are indemnified, to the maximum extent permitted by law, in relation to all official actions. However, similar to members of boards that operate under the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 (the CAC Act), a member of the Future Fund Board is not indemnified: for conduct he or she engages in other than in good faith; in respect of any liability owed to the Board; or in respect of any act or omission that contravenes one of the civil penalty provisions of the Future Fund Act 2006. Also similar to members of CAC Act Boards, a member of the Future Fund Board is not indemnified for legal costs incurred by the member in unsuccessfully defending or resisting criminal proceedings, or proceedings against a declaration that the member has breached a civil penalty provision of the Future Fund Act. The indemnity is financially limited, in broad terms, to the value of the funds under management by the Future Fund Board.
On 4 September 2008, a 150‑year lease for Googong Dam was signed between the Australian Government and the Australian Capital Territory Government. The Australian Government is liable to pay just terms compensation if the terms of the lease are breached by introducing new legislation or changing the Canberra Water Supply (Googong Dam) Act 1974 in a way that impacts on the rights of the Australian Capital Territory. The lease includes a requirement for the Australian Government to undertake rectification of easements or any defects in title in relation to Googong Dam, and remediation of any contamination it may have caused to the site. It also gives an indemnity in relation to acts or omissions by the Australian Government.
Indemnities for the Reserve Bank of Australia and private sector banks
In accordance with Government entities' contracts for transactional banking services, the Australian Government has indemnified the Reserve Bank of Australia and contracted private sector banks against loss and damage arising from error or fraud by the entity, or transactions made by the bank with the authority of the entity.
Indemnities relating to other former asset sales, privatisations and IT outsourcing projects
Ongoing indemnities have been given in respect of a range of asset sales, privatisations and IT outsourcing projects that have been conducted by the Department of Finance and Deregulation (Finance), and the former Office of Asset Sales and Commercial Support and its predecessors. The probability of an action being made under one of these indemnities diminishes over time. Details of indemnities in respect of the other asset sales and privatisations have been provided in previous Budget and the MYEFO papers, and previous annual reports of Finance and the Office of Asset Sales and Commercial Support.
Indemnities (including the year they were raised) are still current for: ADI Ltd (1998), Australian Airlines (1991), Australian Industry Development Corporation (1996), Australian Multimedia Enterprise (1997), Australian National Rail Commission and National Rail Corporation Ltd (1997 and 2000), Australian River Co Ltd (1999), Australian Submarine Corporation Pty Ltd (2000), ComLand Ltd (2004), Bankstown Airport Limited (2002), Camden Airport Ltd (2002), Commonwealth Accommodation and Catering Services (1988), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (1993 to 1996), Commonwealth Funds Management and Total Risk Management (1996 to 1997), Employment National Ltd (2003), Essendon Airport Ltd (2001), Federal Airports Corporation's Airports (1995 to 1997), Housing Loans Insurance Corporation Ltd (1996), Health Insurance Commission (2000), Hoxton Park Airport Limited (2002), National Transmission Network (1999), Sydney Airports Corporation Ltd (2001), Telstra (1996, 1999 and 2006), and Wool International (1999). Apart from instances noted elsewhere, Finance does not currently expect any other action to be taken in respect of these indemnities.
On 20 April 2007, the High Court of Australia found against the Australian Government on a claim for negligent misstatement relating to superannuation benefits for a former employee of the Department of the Interior. There is potential for more claims to arise from other former temporary employees who upon their retirement can demonstrate negligent misstatement over their eligibility to join an Australian Government superannuation scheme. The Department of Finance and Deregulation has assumed responsibility for the claims under its insurance arrangements with the relevant agencies or their predecessors.
Export Finance Insurance Corporation — board member and senior management indemnities
The Australian Government has provided certain indemnities to Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC) board members and senior management to protect them against civil claims and legal expenses for unsuccessful criminal claims relating to the implementation of EFIC's alliance/divestment of its short‑term export credit insurance business.
Australian Medical Association
An agreement is held between the Australian Medical Association, the Australian Government, the Australian Private Hospitals Association Ltd, the Australian Health Insurance Association and Beyond Blue Ltd for participation in, and support of, the Private Mental Health Alliance and for the collection and analysis of a national minimum data set from private, hospital‑based psychiatric services. Each party to the agreement has agreed to indemnify each other in respect of any loss, liability, cost, claim or expense, misuse of confidential information, or breach of the Privacy Act 1988. Each party's liability to indemnify the other parties will be reduced proportionally to the extent that any unlawful or negligent act or omission of the other parties or their employees or agents contributed to the loss or damage. The indemnity survives the expiration or termination of the agreement.
Australian Red Cross Society — indemnities
Deeds of Agreement between the Australian Red Cross Society (the Red Cross) and the National Blood Authority in relation to the operation of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service (the Blood Service) and the development of principal manufacturing sites in Sydney and Melbourne include certain indemnities and a limitation of liability in favour of the Red Cross. These cover defined sets of potential business, product and employee risks and liabilities. The indemnities and limitation of liability only operate in the event of the expiry and non‑renewal, or the earlier termination, of the Deed of Agreement relating to the operation of the Red Cross or the cessation of funding for the principal sites, and only within a certain scope. They are also subject to appropriate limitations and conditions including in relation to mitigation, contributory fault, and the process of handling relevant claims.
Blood and blood products liability cover
A National Managed Fund (NMF) has been established between the Australian Government, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service (the Blood Service) and the State and Territory governments which spreads the liability risks associated with the supply of blood and blood products by the Blood Service. The NMF provides for liabilities incurred by the Blood Service where other available mitigation or cover is not available. Under certain conditions, the Australian Government and the State and Territory governments jointly provide indemnity for the Blood Service through a cost sharing arrangement for claims, both current and potential, regarding personal injury and loss or damage suffered by a recipient of certain blood products. If there are insufficient funds in the NMF to cover claim costs, the Jurisdictional Blood Committee will consider a report provided by the National Funds Manager to determine the level of additional funds required. The Australian Government's share of any additional liability is limited to 63 per cent of any agreed net cost.
CSL Ltd (CSL) is indemnified against claims made by individuals who contract specified infections from specified products and against employees contracting asbestos‑related injuries. CSL has unlimited cover for most events that occurred before the sale of CSL on 1 January 1994, but has more limited cover for a specified range of events that occurred during the operation of the Plasma Fractionation Agreement from 1 January 1994 to 31 December 2004. Where alternative cover was not arranged by CSL, the Australian Government may have a contingent liability.
The Australian Fractionation Agreement with CSL, which has operated since 1 January 2010, includes a requirement that the National Blood Authority make a defined payment to CSL, in certain circumstances only, in the event that the volume of plasma supplied annually to CSL is less than a specified amount.
Guarantee Scheme for aged care accommodation bonds
A Guarantee Scheme has been established through the Aged Care (Bond Security) Act 2006 and Aged Care (Bond Security) Levy Act 2006. Under the Guarantee Scheme, if a provider becomes insolvent or bankrupt and is unable to repay outstanding bond balances to aged care residents, the Australian Government will repay the bond balances owing to each resident. In return, the resident's rights to pursue the defaulting provider to recover the accommodation bond money transfers to the Government. In the event the Government cannot recover the full amount from the defaulting provider, it may levy all providers holding accommodation bonds to recoup the shortfall. It is not possible to quantify the Australian Government's contingent liability in the event that the Guarantee Scheme is activated. On 30 June 2010, the maximum contingent liability, in the unlikely event that all providers defaulted, was $10.6 billion.
Indemnities relating to vaccines
The Australian Government has provided an indemnity to the manufacturer of smallpox vaccine held by the Australian Government, covering possible adverse events that could result from the use of the vaccine in an emergency situation. Further, under certain conditions, certain indemnities have been provided to particular manufacturers of pandemic and pre‑pandemic influenza vaccines for the supply or future supply of influenza vaccines (including H1N1 and H5N1).
Medical Indemnity Exceptional Claims Scheme
In May 2003, the Australian Government announced that the Medical Indemnity Exceptional Claims Scheme was to assume liability for 100 per cent of any damages payable against a doctor that exceeds a specified level of cover provided by that doctor's medical indemnity insurer (currently $20 million). These arrangements would apply to payouts either related to a single large claim or to multiple claims that in aggregate exceed the cover provided by the doctor's medical indemnity insurer, and would apply to claims notified under contracts‑based cover since 1 January 2003.
Immigration detention services — liability limits
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has entered into a contract with International Health and Medical Services Pty Ltd (IHMS), which commenced on 14 January 2009, to deliver health services to people in detention in Australia on behalf of the Australian Government. Under this contract, DIAC has agreed to limit IHMS's liability to DIAC to a maximum of $20.5 million; however, IHMS's liability is unlimited for specific events defined under the contract.
DIAC has also entered into a contract with Serco Pty Ltd (Serco), which commenced on 29 June 2009, to deliver immigration detention services in Australia on behalf of the Australian Government at immigration detention centres. Under this contract, DIAC has agreed to limit Serco's liability to DIAC to a maximum of any insurance proceeds recovered by Serco and $75 million. Serco's liability is unlimited for specific events defined under the contract. DIAC has initiated a review of these liability limits, and this is expected to be completed by the end of the 2011‑12 financial year.
DIAC also entered into a separate contract with Serco, which commenced on 11 December 2009, to deliver immigration detention services in Australia on behalf of the Australian Government at immigration residential housing, immigration transit accommodation and alternative places of detention. Under this contract, DIAC has agreed to limit Serco's liability to DIAC to a maximum of any insurance proceeds recovered by Serco and $17 million. Serco's liability is unlimited for specific events defined under the contract. DIAC has initiated a review of these liability limits. This review is expected to be completed by the end of the 2011‑12 financial year.
On 31 August 2004, the then Minister for Transport and Regional Services, pursuant to section 16 of the Airservices Act 1995 (the Act), gave a direction to Airservices Australia to provide an operating control tower and approach radar control services in certain volumes of airspace. Sub‑section 16(4) of the Act provides that Airservices Australia may seek reimbursement from the Australian Government for any financial detriment it suffers as a result of complying with a direction. At this time, the quantum or nature of any financial detriment is uncertain, as is the nature of any consequent fiscal risk to the budget.
Australian Maritime Safety Authority incident costs
In the normal course of operations, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority is responsible for meeting clean‑up costs arising from ship‑sourced marine pollution and, in all circumstances, is responsible for making appropriate efforts to recover the costs of any such incidents. The Australian Government provides supplementary funds for those costs that cannot be recovered from such incidents. It is not possible to estimate the amounts of any eventual payments that may be required in relation to these incident costs.
Maritime Industry Finance Company Limited — board members' indemnities
Indemnities for Maritime Industry Finance Company Limited (MIFCO) board members were provided to protect them against civil claims relating to their employment and conduct as directors. MIFCO was placed into voluntary liquidation on November 2006 and was deregistered on 24 April 2008. The indemnity is not time limited and continues even though the company has been liquidated. Until the indemnity agreements are varied or brought to an end, they will remain as contingent and unquantifiable liabilities.
Tripartite deeds relating to the sale of federal leased airports
Tripartite deeds apply to 12 federal leased airports (Adelaide, Alice Springs, Bankstown, Brisbane, Canberra, Gold Coast, Darwin, Launceston, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Townsville). The tripartite deeds between the Australian Government, the airport lessee company (ALC) and financiers amend the airport (head) leases to provide for limited step‑in‑rights for financiers in circumstances where the Commonwealth terminates the head lease to enable the financiers to correct the circumstances that triggered such a termination event. The tripartite deeds may require the Commonwealth to pay the ALC and financiers compensation as a result of its termination of the (head) lease. The Commonwealth's contingent liabilities are considered to be unquantifiable and remote.
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation — indemnity
The Australian Government has indemnified the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and its officers from any liability that might be incurred from the conduct of activities authorised under the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation Act 1987. This indemnity is in addition to commercial insurance cover obtained from the Comcover Insurance Pool and other insurers.
Liability for damages caused by space activities
Under the United Nations Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects, the Australian Government is liable to pay compensation for damage caused to nationals of other countries by space objects launched from, or by, Australia. The Government requires the responsible party for a space activity approved under the Space Activities Act 1998 (the Act) to insure against liability for damage to third parties for an amount not less than the maximum probable loss, up to a maximum of $750 million indexed for inflation. Under the Act, the Government also accepts liability for damage suffered by Australian nationals, to a maximum value of $3.0 billion above the insured level.
National Aboriginal Islander Skills Dance College (NAISDA) — construction works
The Australian Government has provided an indemnity from 1 June 2010 to 31 December 2012 in favour of the Central Coast Regional Development Corporation (formerly the Festival Development Corporation), a New South Wales Government statutory authority and landlord of the Mt Penang Parklands in Gosford. The indemnity relates to construction works being carried out by the Australian Government on behalf of NAISDA Dance College at Mt Penang Parklands. The maximum potential liability is $20.0 million.
Whole‑of‑Government — 2015 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup — Government Guarantees
The Australian Government has committed to guarantees including requirements on immigration, work permits, customs, taxation, security and the protection of commercial rights, and to provide broad indemnities for the conduct of the 2015 Asian Cup. The guarantees commenced in 2011 and will conclude in 2015.
The total cost associated with the guarantees is unquantifiable at this stage.
Whole‑of‑Government — Australian Government support for the Queensland Government bid to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast — Government Guarantees
The Australian Government has committed to support the Queensland Government's bid for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. For the bid to be compliant, the Australian Government must provide guarantees which will come into effect if the bid is won. These guarantees include requirements on immigration, customs, work permits, taxation, security, protection of commercial rights, and communications and information technology. Details of the costs associated with the guarantees are not available at this time.
If the 2018 Queensland Government's bid is successful, it is expected that some of the Commonwealth Government guarantees will commence following the announcement of the successful host country in November 2011 and will conclude in 2018. The guarantees will not come into effect if the bid is unsuccessful.
British atomic test site at Maralinga
The Australian Government is responsible for 14 unlimited indemnities relating to the Maralinga Rehabilitation Project (1995‑2000). In November 2009, the Australian Government agreed to the handback of the former nuclear test sites at Maralinga to the Maralinga Tjarutja people. Under the terms of the handback, the Australian Government has indemnified the Maralinga Tjarutja people and the South Australian Government in respect of claims arising from test site contamination.
Gorgon liquefied natural gas and carbon dioxide storage project — long‑term liability
The Australian and Western Australian governments have agreed to provide an indemnity to the Gorgon Joint Venture Partners (GJV) to indemnify the GJV against independent third‑party claims (relating to stored carbon dioxide) under common law following closure of the carbon dioxide sequestration project, and subject to conditions equivalent to those set out in the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006. It is proposed that the Western Australian Government will indemnify the GJV, and that the Australian Government will indemnify the Western Australian Government for 80 per cent of any amount determined to be payable under that indemnity. The formal agreement between the Australian and Western Australian governments in relation to the indemnity is expected to be signed in 2011.
Liability for costs incurred in a national liquid fuel emergency
The Australian Government has responsibility for the Liquid Fuel Emergency Act 1984 (the Act) which is administered by the Minister for Resources and Energy. In addition, the State and Territory governments have entered into an inter‑governmental agreement (IGA) which coordinates the use of the powers under the Act in a national liquid fuel emergency. The IGA contains three areas where the Australian Government may incur expenses in the unlikely event of a national liquid fuel emergency. These relate to the direct costs of managing a liquid fuel emergency and include the possibility of the Australian Government reimbursing the State and Territory governments for costs arising from their responses, and potential compensation for industry arising from Australian Government directions under the Act.
Snowy Hydro Limited — directors' indemnities
The Australian Government, together with the co‑shareholder governments of New South Wales and Victoria, has indemnified the members of the Board of Snowy Hydro Limited for liabilities arising from entering into agreements to implement corporatisation of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme, and from liabilities to Snowy Hydro Limited at corporatisation. The indemnity applies to liabilities arising within five years of corporatisation, and for which a claim is notified to the governments within 11 years of the corporatisation date of 28 June 2002.
Snowy Hydro Limited — water releases
The Australian, New South Wales and Victorian governments have indemnified Snowy Hydro Limited for liabilities arising from water releases in the Snowy River below Jindabyne Dam, where these releases are in accordance with the water licence and related regulatory arrangements agreed between the three governments. The indemnity applies to liabilities for which a claim is notified within 20 years from 28 June 2002.
Murray‑Darling Basin Reform — additional net costs
Under the 3 July 2008 Intergovernmental Agreement on Murray‑Darling Basin Reform (Reform IGA), the Australian Government agreed that the governments of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory (Basin States) will not bear additional net costs as a consequence of the reforms agreed between the parties and the implementation of the Water Act 2007 (the Act). This undertaking ceases on 30 June 2015.
A methodology has been developed for agreement with the Basin States that enables the State and Australian governments to agree on the activities undertaken by a State that are relevant to the implementation of the reforms agreed under the Reform IGA and the implementation of the Act, and to monitor increased or decreased costs and/or revenues.
Murray‑Darling Basin Reform — risk assignment
The Water Act 2007 (the Act) provides the mechanism for defining liabilities and making payments to affected entitlement holders for the Australian Government's share of reductions in water allocations, or in the reliability of water allocations, in the Murray‑Darling Basin arising from the Basin Plan prepared under the Act.
The Government will provide funding of $310 million per annum from 2014‑15 to bridge any remaining gap between the level of water returned to the Murray‑Darling Basin under existing Water for the Future initiatives and the level required to be returned under the final Basin Plan. The additional funding will be used to continue buying back water entitlements each year beyond 2014, subject to the availability of water for purchase from willing sellers.
The independent Murray‑Darling Basin Authority will release the proposed Basin Plan later in 2011, which will be followed by a 16 week consultation process. The Final Basin Plan requires Ministerial approval and is subject to the scrutiny of both houses of Parliament.
The total cost of this commitment is not able to be quantified until the Basin Plan is finalised.
Financial Claims Scheme
The Australian Government established a Financial Claims Scheme to provide depositors of authorised deposit taking institutions and general insurance policyholders with timely access to their funds in the very unlikely event of a financial institution failure.
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) is responsible for the administration of the Financial Claims Scheme. Under the Financial Claims Scheme, any payments to eligible depositors or general insurance policyholders will be made out of APRA's Financial Claims Scheme Special Account.
The Early Access Facility for Depositors established under the Banking Act 1959 provides a mechanism for making payments to depositors under the Government's guarantee of deposits in authorised deposit taking institutions.
The Government announced that, from 12 October 2008, deposits up to $1.0 million at eligible authorised deposit taking institutions would be eligible for coverage under the Financial Claims Scheme. The Government confirmed in December 2010 that the Financial Claims Scheme will be a permanent feature of the Australian financial system with the current $1.0 million cap to be adjusted to a new appropriate post‑crisis level from October 2011.
As at 31 January 2011, deposits eligible for coverage under the Financial Claims Scheme were estimated to be approximately $731.8 billion, compared to $721.3 billion at 31 October 2010.
The Policyholder Compensation Facility established under the Insurance Act 1973 provides a mechanism for making payments to eligible beneficiaries with a valid claim against a failed general insurer. Amounts available to meet payments and administer this facility, in the event of activation, are capped initially at $20.1 billion under the legislation.
In the very unlikely event of a failure, any payments made under the Financial Claims Scheme would be recovered through the liquidation of the failed institution. In the even more unlikely event there were a shortfall, a levy would be applied to industry to recover the difference between the amount expended and the amount recovered in the liquidation.
Guarantee of State and Territory Borrowing
The Australian Government announced on 25 March 2009 that a voluntary, temporary guarantee would be put in place over state and territory borrowing. The Guarantee of State and Territory Borrowing commenced on 24 July 2009 and closed on 31 December 2010.
Securities covered by the guarantee will continue to be guaranteed until they either mature or are bought back and extinguished by the issuer.
The expected liability under the guarantee is remote and unquantifiable. Australian Government expenditure would arise under the guarantee only in the very unlikely event that a state or territory failed to meet its obligations with respect to a commitment that was subject to the guarantee and the guarantee was called upon. In such a case, the Government would likely be able to recover any such expenditure through a claim on the relevant state or territory at a future date. The impact on the Government's budget would depend upon the extent of the default and the state or territory's ability to meet the Government's claim.
As at 31 March 2011, the face value of state and territory borrowings covered by the guarantee was $50.8 billion, down from $62.0 billion at 30 September 2010.
Guarantee Scheme for Large Deposits and Wholesale Funding
The Australian Government announced the guarantee of eligible deposits and wholesale funding for authorised deposit taking institutions from 12 October 2008 under the Guarantee Scheme for Large Deposits and Wholesale Funding (the Guarantee Scheme).
On 7 February 2010, the Government announced the closure of the Guarantee Scheme from 31 March 2010. Since 31 March 2010, Australian authorised deposit taking institutions have been prohibited from issuing any new guaranteed wholesale funding or accepting new guaranteed deposits above $1.0 million. Existing guaranteed wholesale funding is guaranteed to maturity. Depositors who covered their balances above $1.0 million under the Guarantee Scheme can have those funds covered to maturity for term deposits up to five years, or until October 2015 for at call deposits.
The expected liability for deposits under the Guarantee Scheme is remote and unquantifiable. Government expenditure would arise under the guarantee only in the very unlikely event that an institution failed to meet its obligations with respect to a commitment that was subject to the guarantee and the guarantee was called upon. In such a case, the Government would likely be able to recover any such expenditure through a claim on the relevant institution.
As at 25 March 2011, total liabilities covered by the Guarantee Scheme were estimated at $129.0 billion, down from $148.7 billion at 15 October 2010. This is made up of $3.9 billion (down from $6.6 billion) in large deposits and $125.1 billion (down from $155.1 billion) in long‑term wholesale funding. All short‑term wholesale funding matured in March 2011.
Terrorism insurance — commercial cover
The Terrorism Insurance Act 2003 established a scheme for replacement terrorism insurance covering damage to commercial property, including associated business interruption and public liability. The Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation (ARPC) uses reinsurance premiums paid by insurers to meet its administrative expenses and to build a fund and purchase reinsurance to help meet future claims. The Australian Government guarantees to pay any liabilities of the ARPC, but the Treasurer must declare a reduced payout rate to insured entities if the Government's liability would otherwise exceed $10.0 billion.
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