Today I approved a determination to release $920 million in funding to the National Recovery and Resilience Agency (NRRA), using the Advance to the Finance Minister (the AFM).
The determination provides funding to the NRRA to support a decision by the Australian Government to extend the availability of the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment (PLDP) until 30 June 2022 and to manage impacts from the more contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 that has started to have a significant impact on recent claim levels.
The PLDP is a lump sum payment made to people without access to paid leave entitlements or other Australian Government income support, who cannot earn an income because they must self-isolate due to COVID-19, quarantine or care for someone who has to self-isolate or quarantine.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the AFM contingency in appropriation and supply bills was increased above usual levels with bipartisan support and the Government committed to consult the Opposition to seek its concurrence for any AFM that exceeded $1 billion. Consistent with that undertaking I wrote to the Shadow Minister for Finance, Senator Katy Gallagher, when I became aware that a further AFM would be required for PLDP that might come close to or exceed this level. Although the threshold is not exceeded, I appreciate and note for the record Senator Gallagher’s advice that the Opposition supported this AFM.
The AFM determination was registered on the Federal Register of Legislation, together with an Explanatory Statement (these are available at legislation.gov.au ).