Here are 16 programs included in the 2015 budget that we didn't see coming

Photo: Dave Rowland/ Getty.

There were a number of aspects to the federal budget that were expected.

We knew that small businesses would get a 1.5% point tax cut, a Google tax would be introduced and families would receive a $3.5 billion childcare package. But for all the leaks, Joe Hockey kept a few spending secrets up his sleeve.

With so many significant cuts to health spending and foreign aid, some of the programs that survived the razor gang seem a little left-field.

While some are a welcome surprise, such as increased support for intercountry adoption and a national campaign to raise awareness of the harm caused by illicit drug ice, others, such as a $250,000 flag for Bathurst, have us scratching our heads.

Here are some of the programs that made it into the 2015 federal budget that very few saw coming:

The AFP in Cyprus

The government will provide $1.9 million over two years from 2015-16 for the Australian Federal Police’s (AFP) United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. The funding will support the current mission while commencing a drawdown of the AFP’s resourcing in Cyprus, leading to a total withdrawal by June 30, 2017.

Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. Australian civilian police have been part of this mission from May 1964.

The Beacon Foundation

The government will provide a grant of $950,000 in 2014-15 to the Beacon Foundation to enable it to extend its Real Futures Generation programme until January 2016. The funding is aimed at supporting more young people to develop the career skills necessary to transition from school to employment through partnerships with business and schools.

The Beacon Foundation, established in 1988 in Tasmania, has grown to become a national not-for-profit organisation, operating in all Australian states and territories.

Beacon will assist more than 15,000 young Australians from some 120 schools and communities in 2015.

Antarctic projects

The government will provide $9.4 million in 2015-16 to maintain functions that support Australia’s presence in Antarctica. The funding will contribute to the maintenance of station operations and Antarctic science projects.

Mechanical Fuel Load Reduction Trial

The government will provide $1.5 million over two years from 2015-16 for a mechanical fuel load reduction trial to be funded from within the existing resources of the National Bushfire Mitigation Programme measure announced in the 2014-15 Budget.

Funding will be provided to undertake a research trial, in conjunction with state governments, which examines the effectiveness of mechanical fuel removal in forests where conservation values could be compromised by fuel reduction burning.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the trial in April, but this is the first time we have known how much would be allocated.

Australian embassy in Baghdad

The government will provide $106.0 million over two years to maintain Australia’s diplomatic presence and security arrangements in Baghdad.

The funding will enable Australia’s continued standalone presence in Baghdad, which is crucial for our growing diplomatic, political and operational needs in Iraq as we assist the Iraqi government to disrupt, degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL.

Australia has had diplomatic relations with Iraq in various forms since 1935, and first opened an Embassy in Baghdad in 1976.

More Australian embassies

The government will provide $98.3 million over four years to boost the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s overseas network by opening new diplomatic posts in Buka (Papua New Guinea), Doha (Qatar), Makassar (Indonesia), Phuket (Thailand), and Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia), and providing increased resources for Houston (United States). This measure includes capital funding of $36.6 million.

Accelerating growth in organ and tissue donation for transplantation

The government will provide $10.2 million over two years from 2015-16 to improve organ and tissue donation and transplantation rates. Funding will deliver clinical education to hospitals, develop a new Australian Organ Matching System and enhance the Australian Organ Donor Register to enable the online registration of legal consent.

Currently around 1,500 people are on Australian organ transplant waiting lists at any time. One organ and tissue donor can transform the lives of 10 or more people.

Exotic disease threats to Australia

The government will provide $15.3 million over four years to invest in research into exotic disease threats to Australia and the region.

$6.8 million over four years will be provided to the National Health and Medical Research Council to support research into tropical diseases, build collaboration and capacity in the health and medical research workforce, and promote the translation of this research into health policy and practice.

The government will also provide $8.5 million over four years to establish an Australian Tropical Medicine Commercialisation grants programme to support Australian medical researchers to commercialise therapeutics and diagnostics in tropical medicine and to attract foreign investment.

Australian Synchrotron

The government will provide $20.5 million in 2016-17 to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation to meet part of the $30.0 million cost of operating the Australian Synchrotron in 2016-17. The remaining operating costs will be met through contributions from the Victorian Government and the New Zealand Synchrotron Group Ltd.

The Australian Synchrotron is a national research facility that uses accelerator technology to produce a powerful source of light – x-rays and infrared radiation – a million times brighter than the sun.

The flag pole. Photo: Bathurst Regional Council.

Bathurst 200 Commemorative Flagstaff Project

The government will provide $250,000 in 2014-15 as a contribution to the Bathurst Regional Council for its Bathurst 200 Commemorative Flagstaff Project (the Project).

The project will erect a commemorative flagstaff at the site where Governor Lachlan Macquarie proclaimed the future town of Bathurst on May 7, 1815. The remaining funding for the project is being provided by the Bathurst Regional Council and community contributions.

Banana freckle

An Emergency Plant Pest Response levy set at 0.75 cents per kilogram will commence on 1 July 2015.

This levy has been increased at the request of the Australian Banana Growers’ Council to facilitate repayment of the banana industry’s liability associated with an emergency response to eradicate banana freckle.

This, and a range of other levies (on honey and chicken meat) will cost the government $3.4 million a year.

Intercountry adoption

The government will provide $33.7 million over five years from 2014-15 to establish and deliver a national support service for families adopting or seeking to adopt children through the intercountry adoption process.

The median length of time to complete an intercountry adoption had been increasing each year since data was first reported for 2007–08, but in 2013–14 it remained stable at five years.

“This can be attributed to an increasing proportion of adoptees coming from countries of origin with shorter median processing times, such as Taiwan, and a decreasing proportion coming from countries with longer waiting periods, such as China and Thailand”, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Social Security agreement with Estonia

The Government will provide $4.2 million over four years to implement a new Social Security Agreement with the Republic of Estonia consistent with similar agreements made with 29 other countries.

The agreement will commence from 1 July 2016, subject to the completion of legal and treaty processes for both countries, and will improve access to the Age Pension for people who have spent part of their working life in both Australia and Estonia.

Australia is host to one of the largest communities of Estonians abroad, with 8,232 people identifying as Estonian in the 2006 Australian Census.

Anzac Centenary Program

The government will provide $36.4 million over four years in additional funding for a programme of initiatives to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the Anzac Centenary. This will assist the community to honour the service and sacrifice of Australians throughout the anniversary period from 2014 to 2018.

Official histories of Iraq, Afghanistan and East Timor

The government will provide $12.7 million over seven years (including $2.4 million in 2019-20, $1.3 million in 2020-21, and $0.2 million in 2021-22) to compile a six-volume Official History of Australian Operations in Iraq (2003-11) and Afghanistan (2001-14) and a one-volume Official History of Australian Peacekeeping Operations in East Timor (1999-2012) for publication by July 2022.

Sir John Monash Centre

The government will provide $99.5 million over four years to construct the Sir John Monash Centre at Villers-Bretonneux in France as a lasting international legacy of the Centenary of Anzac. The Centre will be an international standard interpretive centre that will explain Australia’s involvement in, and significant achievements on, the Western Front during the First World War.

Prime minister Tony Abbott unveiled the design of the interpretive centre in April.

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