Yesterday’s budget was all about cutting costs and saving money, but in amongst the slashing and burning there were a whole host of weird and wonderful items which did get government funding.
From cane toads to ballet students, SmartCompany has scoured the budget papers to uncover 10 weird and wonderful items that got government cash this year.
They may be very important for the people affected but there’s no denying some of these measures are eyebrow-raising.
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1. Cane toad clean-up
The government is hopping mad about the spread of cane toads in the Kimberley region of Western Australia and is going to throw $500,000 at the problem.
The budget papers say the cash will be provided for “the development of effective tools that reduce the spread and impact of cane toads and for community engagement”.
It’s not actually new money that’s being spent here, rather the cost will be met by the National Landcare Program.
2. Ballet students boarding
There wasn’t much joy for the arts in this year’s budget, but ballet students have a reason to smile after scoring $1 million in funding for boarding accommodation.
3. Antarctic icebreaker
Australia is going to take delivery of a shiny new icebreaker for Antarctica thanks to the provision of $9.4 million in 2014-15. The budget papers say the funding will “maintain Australia’s physical and strategic presence in Antarctica”.
4. Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 search
Prime Minister Tony Abbott is not going to miss out on his moment in the world media spotlight thanks to $89 million over two years set aside to search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
The budget papers note “the actual cost will depend on a number of factors, including the outcome of procurement processes for specialist services, the length of the search and the extent of contributions from other countries”.
5. School chaplaincy
The pet project of former prime minister John Howard is getting a heap of cash. The National Schools Chaplaincy Program will get an additional $245 million over five years. Under the program all Australian schools will be invited to apply for base grants of $20,000 a year to help engage school chaplains.
6. Matthew Flinders’ chart
The government has managed to find $200,000 to bring back Matthew Flinders’ original 1804 chart of Australia.
7. Marriage counselling
The budget includes $20 million over two years to provide up to 100,000 couples with $200 towards relationship education or counselling, in line with an election pledge by Abbott.
Under the “Stronger relationships scheme”, couples will be able to register online for a subsidy to see a relationship educator to work through key issues such as parenting and financial management.
The scheme will be open to all couples including engaged, married, de facto and same-sex couples.
8. International runway at Hobart airport
Who knew international planes even flew to Hobart? The government is going to contribute $38 million to Hobart’s international airport runway extension.
9. Doping dilemmas
The controversial Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency, more commonly known as ASADA, is getting $20 million this year to “align” Australia’s anti-doping arrangements with the revised World Anti-Doping Code that takes effect on January 1, 2015.
“Funding will be used to enhance current detection and testing capabilities as well as intelligence gathering processes,” the budget papers say.
10. Renovations at the Lodge
Looks like Abbott has caught Australia’s renovation bug.
The budget includes provision for “lodge refurbishment”. It’s been known for a while that the Lodge needs some work, but the interesting thing is the government won’t say how much this is actually going to cost.
The budget item is marked as “NFP” – not for publication – where the numbers should be.
“The cost of this measure is not for publication due to commercial-in-confidence considerations,” according to the budget papers.