Description of functions and sub-functions

General public services

The general public services function includes expenses relating to the organisation and operation of government such as those related to the Parliament, the Governor-General and conduct of elections; the collection of taxes and the management of public funds and public debt; assistance to developing countries to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development, particularly in the Pacific region; and contributions to international organisations and the operations of the foreign service. 

It also includes expenses related to research in areas not otherwise connected with a specific function, and those associated with overall economic and statistical services and government superannuation benefits (excluding nominal superannuation interest sub-function in the other purposes function). 

Sub-function Include Exclude
Legislative and executive affairs
  • parliaments and councils;
  • governor-general;
  • conduct of elections and maintenance of registers of voters;
  • legislative drafting offices;
  • libraries and other reference facilities that serve the legislative bodies;
  • permanent and ad-hoc commissions and committees created by or acting on behalf of the legislature; and
  • ministerial departments, local government offices and inter-departmental committees not concerned with a specific function.
Ministerial departments and inter‑departmental committees classified to a specific function.
Financial and fiscal affairs
  • collection of taxes, including customs duties;
  • management of public funds and public debt;
  • departmental monitoring and control of monetary and fiscal policy; and
  • formulation and review of government budgets.
  • collection of licences, fees and fines which are associated with a specific function; and
  • underwriting and floating of government loans and interest payments.
Foreign affairs and economic aid
  • expenses concerned with foreign affairs and diplomatic and consular missions stationed abroad or at offices of international organisations;
  • information and cultural activities intended for distribution overseas;
  • contributions to meet the operating expenses of international organisations and support for research  into foreign policy;
  • issuing of passports and visas; and
  • non-military aid to developing countries including Official Development Assistance.
  • production of cultural material intended for overseas broadcasting classified under broadcasting and film production;
  • military aids;
  • aid to international peace-keeping operations; and
  • personnel and other general services connected with a specific function.
General research Research directed towards the increase in scientific knowledge or discovery of new fields of investigation, not connected with a specific function. Research undertaken with a specific purpose in mind.
General services
  • overall economic and social planning and statistical services not connected with a specific function;
  • offices, bureaux, or program units which formulate, coordinate and frequently monitor the implementation of overall economic and social policies programs;
  • development and implementation of general personnel policies and procedures;
  • centralised supply and purchasing services that cannot be split and allocated to specific functions; and
  • repairs and maintenance of central motor pools.
  • personnel and other general services connected with a specific function; and
  • ad-hoc and permanent committees or advisors created by, or acting on behalf of, the chief executive or legislature classified to legislative and executive affairs.
Government superannuation benefits
  • retirement and pension plans for military personnel and other government employees and their survivors under contribution schemes;
  • payments under the defence forces retirement and death benefits scheme; and
  • payments under Commonwealth, state and local government superannuation schemes.
  • pensions and other benefits paid to ex-service personnel for compensation resulting from service in defence forces, and to war widows and war orphans; and
  • old age pensions, disability benefits, etc paid through the general social security system to ex-military personnel.



Defence expenses support Australian military operations overseas and the delivery of navy, army, air and intelligence capabilities and strategic policy advice in the defence of Australia and its national interests. The defence function does not include expenses relating to the veterans’ affairs, superannuation payments to retired military personnel, Australian War Memorial and housing assistance, which are reported under the social security and welfare, other purposes, art and cultural heritage and housing and community amenities functions, respectively. 

Function Type Include Exclude
  • land, sea, air and reservist combat personnel;
  • engineering, transport, communications, intelligence, training and recruitment and other non‑combatant personnel and associated services;
  • provision of equipment, structures and supplies, base hospitals and military schools and colleges;
  • dissemination of information;
  • civil defence personnel and acquiring materials and equipment;
  • military aid missions accredited to foreign governments attached to international military organisations;
  • military aid grants and advances and contributions to international peace-keeping forces including assignment of manpower;
  • research and experimental development related to the armed forced and civil defence;
  • development of new and improved equipment;
  • improvements in tactics and strategies; and
  • other research and development related to defence.
  • pension schemes for military personnel; and
  • food, materials, and equipment used for emergency peacetime disasters.


Public order and safety

Expenses under the public order and safety function support the administration of the federal legal system and the provision of legal services, including legal aid to the community. Public order and safety expenses also include law enforcement and intelligence activities, in addition to the protection of Australian Government property.

Function Type Include Exclude
Courts and legal services Legal representation and advice on behalf of the government and others including: costs of crown prosecution, trusteeship services and law reform.
  • industrial law; and
  • tribunals and appeals boards that can be classified to specific purpose categories.
Other public order and safety
  • all activities concerned with the prevention of illegal activities and apprehension of criminals such as: terrorism prevention, traffic control, internal security forces, police colleges, police training and police laboratories;
  • fire protection services including: contributions to volunteer fire brigades, operations of fire brigade boards, and roadside clearing;
  • juvenile corrective services such as: places of secure detention for juveniles, child offenders and children on remand for alleged offences, youth training centres and juvenile corrective institutions;
  • prisons and other corrective services;
  • control of domestic animals and livestock such as dog registration, pounds, control of stray cattle and associated veterinary costs; and
  • other public order and safety including: beach inspectors, life saving and beach patrols, maintenance of state emergency services and their operation, control of explosives, human rights organisations, and community relations.
  • forest fire protection services classified under forestry;
  • residential child care institutions that are not places of secure detention such as: juvenile hostels, family group homes and campus homes;
  • road safety e.g. traffic improvements and road transport activities; and
  • Natural Disaster Relief Arrangements.



Education expenses support the delivery of education services through higher education institutions; vocational education and training providers (including technical and further education institutions); and government (State and Territory) and non-government primary and secondary schools. 

Function Type Include Exclude
Higher education Administration, inspection, support, and operation of education programs leading to a university first degree, post-graduate degree or other higher qualifications. Military colleges classified to Defence.
Vocational and other education
  • some vocational and technical training which occur in the final years of secondary education;
  • special education such as: the education of blind, deaf and mute children, children with other forms of physical and emotional problems, etc;
  • migrant education programs; and
  • other educational programs not definable by education level.
Apprenticeship schemes classified to Vocational and industry training.
Non-Government schools and Government schools
  • preschool education; and
  • education programs at primary and secondary level.
Student assistance
  • assistance to Indigenous and other students;
  • supplementary benefits for part-time students; and
  • other student assistance associated with the transportation of students such as: contract bus services, conveyance allowances to parents, and reimbursement of private sector bus operators for concessional fares offered to these students.
General administration Running costs associated with the administration of the education function.  
School education – specific funding Programs that target specific initiatives or are designed specifically for the benefit of certain groups.  



The health function includes expenses relating to: medical services funded through Medicare and the Private Health Insurance Rebate; payments to the States and Territories to deliver specific health services; Pharmaceutical Benefits Schemes; blood and blood products; population health measures; and health education and training services. 

Function Type Include Exclude
Medical services and benefits
  • medical benefits – assistance under Medicare towards the cost of out-of-hospital medical services and towards the cost of medical services provided to patients under private care in hospital;
  • veterans and dependants - costs for eligible veterans and their dependants of local medical officer, specialist, paramedical and dental services, the supply and maintenance of surgical aids, and travelling and other expenses incurred in obtaining medical treatment; and
  • private health insurance incentives – provides an income tested financial incentive for families and individuals to take out and maintain private health insurance cover.
Hospital services
  • shared ward accommodation and treatment;
  • free outpatient;
  • accident and emergency treatment at public hospitals;
  • spending on hospital funding agreements with the states; and
  • veterans and dependants treated at public hospitals or private hospitals.
Assistance to the States for public hospitals Agreements with payments to the States to support their delivery of healthcare services.  
Pharmaceutical benefits and services Pharmaceuticals provided outside of hospitals.  
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health Heath services to specifically benefit Indigenous Australians including services such as mental health, sexual health and hearing services.  
Health services
  • funding for the provision of blood and blood products, population health programs, and development of mental health care strategies.
  • research into health, medical and health sciences;
  • health promotion and disease prevention such as health promotion campaigns, occupational health and safety programs, food standards regulations, environmental health, nutrition services, communicable disease surveillance and control, and epidemiology; and
  • Health Services and Other Health Services CBMS subfunctions.
General administration Running costs associated with the administration of the health function.  


Social security and welfare

The social security and welfare function includes: pensions and services to the aged, assistance to the unemployed, people with disabilities and families with children; and income support and compensation for veterans and their dependants.  It also includes advancement programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

Function Type Include Exclude
Assistance to the aged Income support for aged people and their dependants, residential care for those aged people who are unable to live at home but who do not require intensive nursing care, and community care alternatives for those frail aged and younger people with a disability for whom long-term residential accommodation would be inappropriate.   
Assistance to veterans and dependants Income support and compensation, in the form of pensions, to veterans and their dependants.  
Assistance to people with disabilities Income support to people with disabilities as well as partners, parents and other carers of people with disabilities, assistance with labour force related transport costs, and services which increase the independence and employment opportunities of people with disabilities.  
Assistance to families with children Income assistance paid to families irrespective of whether anyone in the household is earning an income. Includes payments to households on a per child basis, and payments to children with a disability allowance.  
Assistance to the unemployed and the sick
  • unemployment benefits paid to compensate for loss of income due to unemployment; and
  • income support provided to persons who are unable to work because of temporary incapacity, and who have limited alternative means of support.
Other welfare programmes
  • income support to people in special circumstances;
  • income supplements and/or concessions for people facing certain additional costs;
  • increased access to accommodation for low income earners and the homeless through the provision of recurrent and capital funds in conjunction with the States and Territories; and
  • emergency relief funds paid through charitable agencies for people who are in financial crisis.
Assistance for Indigenous Australians nec Expenses that are related to advancement programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people which are not elsewhere classified.  
General administration Administration costs associated with the social security and welfare function.  


Housing and community amenities

The housing and community amenities function includes the Australian Government’s contribution to the National Affordable Housing Agreement, other Australian Government housing programs, expenses of Defence Housing Australia and various regional development and environmental protection programs. 

Function Type Include Exclude
  • provision of housing for the general public and people with special needs;
  • acquisition of land for dwelling construction;
  • conditional financial assistance for the construction of homes;
  • rental subsidies and allowances;
  • mortgage financing of homes for ex-service personnel and other low cost mortgage financing for home building or purchase; and
  • general administration, regulation, research and the promotion of standards in the field of housing.
  • construction activity; and
  • rent assistance classified to Social Security and Welfare.
Urban and regional development Administration, provision and support of the operation of overall community developments mainly concerned with the planning of new or rehabilitated communities with the aim of improving the quality of life.  Construction activity.
Environment protection
  • assistance for the development, expansion or operation of water supply systems;
  • production and dissemination of information and research into the conservation, collection purification and distribution of water;
  • expenses related to waste disposal, drainage systems, air pollution, monitoring urban flood mitigation, resource assessment, pollution abatement and control and community amenities;
  • administration and operation of government agencies engaged in applied research and experimental development related to environmental protection;
  • grants or subsidies to support applied research and experimental development related to environmental protection undertaken by non-government bodies such as research institutes and universities; and
  • administration, management, regulation, supervision, operation and support of activities such as formulation, administration, coordination and monitoring of overall policies, plans, programs and budgets for the promotion of environmental protection; preparation and enforcement of legislation and standards for the provision of environmental protection services; production and dissemination of general information, technical documentation and statistics on environmental protection.
  • activities in connection with irrigation systems;
  • construction of drains associated with roadwork; and
  • public conveniences at recreational areas.


Recreation and culture

Recreation and culture function expenses support public broadcasting, cultural institutions, funding for the arts and the film industry, assistance to sport and recreation activities, as well as the management and protection of national parks and other world heritage areas. This function also includes expenses relating to the protection and preservation of historic sites and buildings, including war graves. 

Function Type Include Exclude
  • support of the construction or acquisition of facilities for television or radio broadcasting and for the production and presentation of broadcasting material;
  • production of cultural material intended for overseas broadcasting;
  • administering the collection of commercial radio and television licence fees; and
  • support of film production.
Arts and cultural heritage
  • funding for the operating costs of collecting institutions such as the National Library of Australia, the National Gallery of Australia, the Australian National Maritime Museum, the National Museum of Australia, and the Australian War Memorial;
  • funding to certain cultural bodies; and
  • administrative support of cultural activities.
Cultural activities intended for distribution overseas.
Sport and recreation
  • financial assistance to elite athletes and encourage community interest and participation in sport and recreational activities; and
  • administration, support, provision, operation of public halls and civic centres, swimming pools and other recreational facilities and services.
National estate and parks Outlays on aspects of national estate such as historic houses and sites which are part of the national parks and wildlife services.  


Fuel and energy 

This function comprises a wide range of fuel and energy expenses administered across a number of portfolios. It also includes expenses related to greenhouse programs and programs to support production or use of alternative fuels, including ethanol and biodiesel. 

Function Type Include Exclude
Fuel and energy
  • expenses on coal, petroleum, gas, electricity and other energy including alternative fuels such as ethanol, wood and wood wastes; and
  • price control, research, dissemination of information, measures designed to reduce consumption or increase production, and support in the form of advances, grants or subsidies.


Agriculture, forestry and fishing 

Agriculture, forestry and fishing function expenses support assistance to primary producers, forestry, fishing, land and water resources management, quarantine services and contributions to research and development. 

Function Type Include Exclude
Wool industry Contributions to the wool industry for promotion, administration, market support, and research and development.  
Grains industry Contributions to the grain industry for promotion, administration, market support, and research and development.  
Dairy industry Contributions to the dairy industry for promotion, administration, market support, and research and development.  
Cattle, sheep and pig industry Contributions to the meat industry for promotion, research and development and control of cattle diseases.  
Fishing, horticulture and other agriculture
  • funding for fisheries management and research; and
  • grants, subsidies and other assistance for horticulture and other agriculture industries.
Sport fishing.
General assistance not allocated to specific industries General assistance not allocated to specific industries.  
Rural assistance Expenses for Government support of rural producers and rural industry adjustment initiatives, such as assistance to farmers through income support, interest rate subsidies, grants for structural adjustment, financial counselling, training and innovation grants.  
Natural resources development Water, land and forest management programs, and includes the Government’s contribution towards agricultural water resource management.  
General administration Running costs associated with the administration of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing function.  


Mining, manufacturing and construction 

Expenses under this function relate to the mining, manufacturing and construction sectors, and are designed to assist the efficiency and competitiveness of Australian industries.  The major components include programs specific to the automotive and textiles, clothing and footwear industries. 

Function Type Include Exclude
Mining, manufacturing and construction
  • activities related to prospecting, mining and mineral resources development including non-metal bearing minerals;
  • activities and research into manufacturing methods, materials and industrial management;
  • automotive, textiles, clothing and footwear industries; and
  • building and construction industry.
  • all activities relating to mineral fuels;
  • manufacturing relating to the production of fuel and energy classified to fuel and energy; and
  • specific building and construction projects classified to the appropriate purpose.


Transport and communication 

Transport and communication function expenses support the infrastructure and regulatory framework for Australia’s transport and communication sectors. 

Function Type Include Exclude
  • administration, provision, construction, regulation and operation of communication affairs and services including: postal, telephone, telegraph, cable, broadband and wireless communication systems and communication satellites; and
  • grants, advances and subsidies for communication equipment and services.
Radio and television broadcasting systems and water or air navigation aids.
Rail transport Costs on planning, designing, constructing, extending and improving railways and associated structures such as:
  • terminals, tunnels, bridges, etc;
  • research into the design construction etc of rail transport facilities;
  • tariff and passenger fares, passenger safety and frequency of service;
  • subsidies, grants or advances to public non-financial corporations and private sector system operators; and
  • research and dissemination of information on rail transport affairs and services.
Air transport Expenses on planning, designing, constructing, extending or improving airports such as:
  • runways, terminals, hangars, air navigation aids and the supervision, licensing and regulating of such work;
  • research into the design, construction, etc of air transport facilities;
  • tariff and passenger fares, passenger safety, registration, licensing and inspection of aircraft, pilots and crews including ground crews and allocation of routes;
  • subsidies, grants or advances to public non-financial corporations and private sector system operators; and
  • research and dissemination of information on air transport affairs and services.
Road transport Expenses on administration, regulation, support, operation, etc of road and highway construction affairs, road and highway maintenance affairs, both off and on street parking, and other road transport affairs and services.  
Sea transport Expenses on administration, planning, construction, regulation, operation, etc of sea transport facilities and inland, coastal and ocean passenger and freight sea transport affairs and services.  
Other transport and communication Costs of administering relevant programs in the transport and communication sectors.  


Other economic affairs 

This function includes expenses on tourism and area promotion, labour market assistance, immigration, industrial relations and other economic affairs not elsewhere classified. 

Function Type Include Exclude
Tourism and area promotion
  • administration, regulation, planning, development, research, support and operation of tourism and area promotion to attract tourists; and
  • local government promotion to attract development.
National parks and wildlife services classified to Recreation and Culture.
Vocational and industry training Administration, support, regulation, and the research of training programs such as apprenticeship schemes designed to facilitate entry into the workforce of people currently not employed or in need of retraining. Training programs provided by TAFE institutions.
Labour market assist to job seekers and industry Expenses to improve efficiency in the labour market by enhancing skills and productivity and meeting skill shortages and assisting job search activity.  
Industrial relations
  • expenses relating to the regulation of working conditions, the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes, the enforcement of industrial awards and agreements and the provision of occupational training schemes and labour exchange facilities; and
  • expenses relating to the administration, regulation and research in the field of industrial relations.
Immigration Activities of Government concerned with the management of migration and humanitarian programs, temporary entry, entry facilitation, compliance activity and citizenship.  
Other economic affairs nec
  • consumer interest and protection affairs;
  • licensing, sale practise, labelling of packages of food and other goods intended for household consumption;
  • price control and rationing schemes operating through retailers or wholesalers;
  • wholesale or retail shop inspections; and
  • all services relating to distributive trade affairs and services n.e.c.


Other purposes 

The other purposes function includes expenses incurred in the servicing of Public Debt Interest (PDI), general purpose assistance to the state, territory and local governments and other assistance to these governments not elsewhere classified.  The function also includes items classified to natural disaster relief, the cost of asset sales, the contingency reserve, and expenses related to nominal interest on unfunded liabilities for government superannuation benefits. 

Function Type Include Exclude
Public debt interest Underwriting and floating of government loans and interest payments, including interest on government securities or under special credit arrangements with other countries, and any interest on behalf of states and territories. Administrative costs of public debt management.
General purpose inter-government transactions General revenue assistance to States and Territories including Goods and Services Tax payments, any other assistance to the States and Territories which are not elsewhere classified, any debt assistance to other governments, and financial assistance grants for local government. Payments to and through the States and direct to local government for specific purposes classified elsewhere
Natural disaster relief
  • administration, planning, support and the provision of programs concerned with the immediate relief of victims of drought, fires, floods, cyclones and other natural disasters; and
  • initial restorations of community services and facilities.
Mitigation activities associated with natural disasters
Contingency reserve Allowance included in aggregate expenses to reflect the effects of future known events, which cannot be reasonably assessed at Budget time.  
Nominal superannuation interest Nominal interest on unfunded liabilities for government superannuation benefits.  

Source: Australian System of Government Finance Statistics – Concepts, Sources and Methods 2005 (ABS Catalogue No. 5514.0)

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