ANTaR pre-budget submission 2013-14
In the 2012-13 Budget, the Federal Government invested $5.2 billion in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs and initiatives. The bulk of this investment - $3.4 billion - was targeted to Northern Territory communities through a package of ‘Stronger Futures’ spending measures in addition to $1.5 billion for a new remote community employment program.
While the Federal Government will be seeking to restore the budget to surplus after a drop in projected revenue in 2012-13, ANTaR submits that this objective should not jeopardise Government efforts to create a more equal society - in particular, by addressing the disadvantage experienced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and responding to the acute need for infrastructure and services in many Aboriginal communities.
While ANTaR has not sought to offset all spending recommendations with savings measures, it does advocate for the creation of a Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) Future Fund for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Such a fund has been supported by a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and would recognise the fact that although Aboriginal communities have been more directly affected by mining than other communities, they have failed to receive commensurate benefit.
Despite lower than anticipated revenue in 2012-13, the MRRT is projected to raise $9.1 billion over the next 4 years. A Regional Infrastructure Fund worth $6 billion over 2010– 11 to 2020–21 (with $5.6 billion of the fund drawing on the proceeds of the Minerals Resource Rent Tax), has been established to fund infrastructure projects in regional communities. It is vital that remote Aboriginal communities receive their fair share of proceeds from this Fund.