Appropriation (Parliament) (Interim) Bill 2020

1. The impacts of the coronavirus pandemic are unprecedented. The issues with coronavirus have completely altered the social and economic lives of many Victorians. Many Victorians are also feeling the health impacts of the pandemic.

2. Extraordinary times like these are forcing us to take extraordinary steps. There is nothing normal about the current circumstances, and hence it is impossible for the state to present a budget.

3. The bill provides the government with the authority to keep providing health and economic safety to Victorians during these times. From 1 July to 31 December 2020, the total appropriation authority sought in this bill is $116.1 million for Parliament.

4. Federal, state and territory governments have decided to delay their budgets this year, given the unpredictable situation this pandemic has put us in.

5. The coronavirus pandemic is a black swan event—an event which was unpredictable beyond what is normally expected of a situation and it has had severe consequences. There is no way the government can forecast the impact of the pandemic.

6. This bill provides appropriation authority for payment from the Consolidated Fund to the Parliament in respect of the first six months of the 2020–21 financial year.

7. This ensures that activities of the Parliament continue, and they are funded until a state budget for 2020–21 is presented.

8. The government has the intention of introducing the budget before the end of 2020.

9. The breadth of the social and economic disruptions created by the coronavirus crisis are unpredictable and unprecedented. However, the Victorian government is in a better position to tackle this crisis than many other governments around the world.

10. Coming into this crisis, Victoria had a strong balance sheet and a AAA credit rating, which means Victoria can take swift action against coronavirus.

11. This appropriation bill will be able to provide the government with the authority to keep responding to the crisis, keeping Victorians healthy and economically safe.

12. This bill will also help the day-to-day operations of the government.

13. For the first time, the funding for the Ombudsman, the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission and the Victorian Inspectorate will come within the financial responsibilities of the Parliament. This is an important move to budget independence for these agencies. These agencies were funded through the Department of Premier and Cabinet in 2019–20.

14. I commend the bill to the house.