Federal Budget top tools for governance and risk professionals
The Federal Budget for 2023-24 included some key funding announcements concerning governance and risk management.
Here’s a Governance Institute Top 5 list of key policy areas where we have been advocating strongly on behalf of our members and some practical guides to help you stay up to date.
The establishment of an Anti-Slavery Commissioner is welcomed by the Governance Institute, who last year called for the improvement both in the quality of reporting and compliance with the anti-slavery regime in our submission Review of the Modern Slavery Act 2018.
We’re a strong advocate of good governance in this space, and that’s why we welcome the announcement of $8 million over four years to be directed towards establishing an Anti-Slavery Commissioner to support compliance and improve supply chains in Australia and abroad. For more info on compliance, head to our Good Governance Guide on Compliance which is found on our Resources Centre.
Cybersecurity and AI
Digital technology and cybersecurity are issues that many governance and risk professionals are having to navigate in a constantly changing and challenging landscape.
This year’s budget set aside $46.5 million over four years to establish the Coordinator for Cyber Security to ensure that the Commonwealth’s cybersecurity efforts are strategic, coordinated, timely and effective. We welcome funding towards such efforts to promote good governance on this issue.
Members can find more information about best practice with the Governance Institute’s Good Governance Guide — Cybersecurity in the Resources Centre of our website.
We also take the governance and risk management of privacy, data protection and cybersecurity very seriously, and have recently made a submission to the Department of Home Affairs, advocating on behalf of our members for digital transformation and modernisation in many areas of corporate regulation.
As AI in industries grows, responsible AI usage is becoming ever more relevant. Our Governance Institute’s Ethical Artificial Intelligence guide mentions good governance in this space for senior management to ‘demonstrate a commitment to the lawful, ethical and responsible use of AI in their organisation and the behaviour of their people in the deployment of AI.’
The Government has also announced that it will extend the National AI Centre and its role in supporting responsible AI usage through the creation of an Australian Centre for Quantum Growth.
This is part of an allocated $101.2 million over five years to support the development and uptake of technologies that are enabling capabilities across Australian industries.
One of the key announcements made in the budget is the establishment of a standalone Privacy Commissioner, demonstrating a willingness to address growing concerns over data breaches and privacy violations that have occurred in recent years.
To bolster privacy-related efforts, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) will receive a substantial funding boost of $44.3 million. This allocation empowers the OAIC to effectively investigate and take necessary actions regarding privacy matters.
In the Governance Institute’s submission to the Privacy Act review, our members called for sufficient resourcing to ensure these tasks are undertaken in a timely manner. Other recommendations included further consultation on any proposal to remove or lower the $3 million annual turnover exemption and co-ordination between all levels of government to ensure better harmonisation between privacy, data breach, cybersecurity data sovereignty and critical infrastructure regulation.
Workplace culture and diversity & inclusion
Governance Institute strongly advocates for diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. The 2023 Board Diversity Index found there were positive improvements in diversity and inclusion in the Australian workforce, such as growth in the number of First Nations’ people in the nation’s top companies and representation of women on boards has risen to 35% – up from 32% in 2022.
We welcome funding to improve workplace culture including $27 million over four years to improve the safety and fairness of workplaces. There will also be the establishment of a National Construction Industry Forum, which seeks to advise on workplace relations, industry culture, skills and training, safety, gender equality and productivity in the construction industry, and the development of a targeted training package on workplace psychosocial hazards.
Overseeing the transition to clean energy will be the newly established National Net Zero Authority. This body will work with all levels of government to ensure workers are supported, and new industries come online.
Governance Institute is strongly involved in advocating for good governance and risk management as organisations move towards renewable and clean energy and implementation. We have made the following Guide for boards and management on the path to net zero to help our members with the road to net zero – from engaging your board in the climate conversation to managing legal and stakeholder expectations.
By far one of the largest announcements of this year’s budget was a significant clean energy package. The $2 billion Hydrogen Headstart program is aimed at subsidising producers to accelerate development of renewable hydrogen projects and help connect Australian businesses to the global hydrogen supply chain.
For a comprehensive budget breakdown, visit Governance Institute’s Your governance and risk guide to the 2023 Federal Budget.