Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (the Department) drives economic growth and job creation for all Australians. The Department supports the growth and transformation of our regions, and the creation of jobs across Australia. The Department delivers on these objectives by investing in areas of competitive strength or emerging priority such as resources and the National Manufacturing Priorities, building on our strong science and technology capabilities, and supporting the provision of reliable, secure and affordable energy.

The Industry, Science, Energy and Resources Portfolio is committed to effective and mutually beneficial community and industry engagement, working across regional areas to ensure communication with, and engagement of, businesses, industry and all Australians. The Portfolio’s 2020-21 Budget measures deliver further support for regional Australians in the areas of energy, science, regional infrastructure and small business.

The Portfolio has a broad regional footprint. As at 30 June 2020, the Portfolio employed 5,663 staff under the Public Service Act 1999. Of this total, 4,955 staff (88 per cent) are based in Canberra, central Sydney and central Melbourne, 648 staff (11 per cent) of staff are based in the wider metropolitan Sydney and metropolitan Melbourne areas, and the other capital cities, and 60 staff (one per cent) are based in other locations across Australia.

Several Portfolio agencies employ 7,032 staff under their own legislation, with 1,422 staff (20 per cent) based in Canberra, central Sydney and central Melbourne, 4,756 staff (68 per cent) based in the wider metropolitan Sydney and metropolitan Melbourne areas, and the other capital cities, and 854 (12 per cent) based in other locations across Australia. The AusIndustry Regional Network provides a presence across regional areas in all states and territories. After the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires, AusIndustry employed 19 Strengthening Business facilitators to help bushfire affected businesses recover and re-establish themselves to be stronger and more resilient in the future.

The Australian Government is working to unlock northern Australia’s untapped economic potential, helping to improve the livelihoods of our rural and regional communities. The reforms to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility will empower it to better deliver on its key objectives – delivering economic and social benefits, population growth, development and jobs to our rural and regional communities in the north. These reforms include extending the investment window a further five years to 30 June 2026. Other projects and programs that regularly engage, support and service regional communities and businesses include the Rum Jungle Rehabilitation Project, the Office of Northern Australia, and the Major Projects Facilitation Agency.

The newly established Australian Radioactive Waste Agency (ARWA) is leading the process to deliver Australia’s National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) and continue community engagement. The NRWMF will be purpose-built to safely manage Australia’s low-level and intermediate level radioactive waste, most of which is a by-product of the domestic production of life-saving nuclear medicine.

The Government is supporting secure, reliable and affordable energy, providing business and industry with the certainty they need to invest, compete and grow. This includes measures to progress important transmission infrastructure projects, which will drive new investment and job creation in regional areas. Funding will be available for pilot studies targeted at accelerating deployment of microgrids and microgrid technologies, and building resilience to extreme weather events and bushfires in regional and remote networks.

The Government is also backing new, clean energy technologies to support the transition to a low-emissions economy. Additional funding for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will support implementation of the Government’s Technology Investment Roadmap. The Roadmap will unlock new opportunities and sources of competitive advantage across the country by focusing on low emissions technologies with the potential to deliver the strongest economic and emissions reduction opportunities for Australia. Projects funded by ARENA will help create jobs and stimulate the economy, including in regional and remote communities.

The gas-fired recovery will make energy affordable for families and businesses and support jobs as part of Australia’s recovery from the COVID-19 recession. The Government will drive a gas-fired recovery by unlocking gas supply, delivering an efficient pipeline and transportation market, and empowering gas customers. Strategic basin plans, including the Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory and the North Bowen and Galilee Basins in northern Queensland, will support jobs growth for local communities in regional and remote areas, while identifying ways to accelerate gas to market and reduce field production costs. The Critical Minerals Facilitation Office develops Australia’s potential as a world leader in the critical minerals sector and supports strategically important critical minerals projects.

The Government has tasked the Department to ensure that Australia has an enabling and competitive business environment that encourages productivity, business investment and job creation across Australia. Manufacturing is a key regional employer and directly influences local economies. The Modern Manufacturing Strategy will deliver targeted measures to boost the scale, competitiveness and resilience of Australian manufacturing, and support manufacturing businesses to create jobs – including in regional areas.

The Digital Business Plan supports job creation and increased competitiveness across the economy, by supporting businesses to adopt digital technologies and build their digital capability. The Department is also assisting regional businesses and communities to develop future workplace skills and knowledge for tomorrow’s industries, through programs that build science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) capabilities, such as Questacon’s education and outreach programs, and measures supporting women’s and girls’ participation in STEM study and careers.

The Portfolio is committed to a high degree of community and industry engagement, including in regional Australia, through its agencies, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), the Clean Energy Regulator (CER), the Climate Change Authority (CCA), the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Geoscience Australia (GA), IP Australia (IPA), the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), and Snowy Hydro Limited. The Australian Space Agency, with its headquarters in Adelaide, will drive innovation and entrepreneurship that support the growth of Australia’s space industry and the broader economy.

The National Measurement Institute (NMI) has recently increased its commitment to working in remote locations to improve awareness of trade measurement requirements, to ensure industry and consumers are not unfairly disadvantaged as a consequence of their locality.

The Department also administers a range of other measures which may benefit regional communities, but are not specifically directed at regional areas. These measures are in addition to the funding estimated above and included in the descriptions below.

New initiatives

JobMaker Plan – Modern Manufacturing Strategy

Manufacturing is critical to a modern Australian economy and to economic recovery following the COVID‑19 pandemic. It has an important role in many supply chains and adds significant value to all sectors. The Modern Manufacturing Strategy will harness Australia’s manufacturing capability, boost competitiveness, deliver transformation at scale and secure jobs for the future.

Modern Manufacturing Initiative

The Australian Government will provide $1.3 billion over five years from 2020-21 to establish the Modern Manufacturing Initiative. The Modern Manufacturing Initiative will address barriers to scale for Australian manufacturers, targeting private sources of capital to invest in manufacturing and support Australia’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Through three targeted streams, the Modern Manufacturing Initiative will co-fund projects that will transform the Australian manufacturing industry in the National Manufacturing Priority areas.

The three streams address different barriers to scale:

  • The Manufacturing Collaboration Stream will provide co-funding for large-scale projects that support business to business and business to research collaboration, to build economies of scale.
  • The Manufacturing Translation Stream will provide co-funding for industry-led projects to translate good ideas into commercial outcomes and increase investment in non‑research & development innovation.
  • The Manufacturing Integration Stream will target the integration of local firms to deliver products and services into global value chains. This stream will focus on supply chain opportunities for medium-sized manufacturers by offering co-funded grants, as well as supply chain engagement and facilitation through existing government programs.

The Modern Manufacturing Initiative will be open to applications from across Australia. Funding is expected to benefit regional Australia as manufacturing is a key regional employer. The Modern Manufacturing Initiative and its contracted delivery partners will support regional businesses, job generation and local economies.

Supply Chain Resilience Initiative

The Australian Government will provide $107.2 million over four years from 2020-21 for critical manufacturing supply chain analysis and funding to address identified gaps in these supply chains, including in regional areas.

Activities under the measure include:

  • Conducting a robust needs-analysis of supply chains and working with industry to develop supply options to address vulnerabilities in domestic and international supply chains for identified critical products. The outcomes of this work will be published in Sovereign Manufacturing Capability Plans.
  • Grants for businesses to establish or scale a capability that addresses a critical supply chain vulnerability for a critical product or input identified in Sovereign Manufacturing Capability Plans.

The outcomes of the need, vulnerability and capability mapping and Sovereign Manufacturing Capability Plans are expected to benefit the manufacturing sector in regional and metropolitan areas.

Manufacturing Modernisation Fund – establishment and round two

The Manufacturing Modernisation Fund (MMF) is supporting manufacturers to become more competitive and create new jobs by co-funding capital investments that help them scale-up, invest in new technologies and develop new high-value products.

On 30 April 2020, the Australian Government announced a commitment of $50 million through the MMF over three years from 2019-20, to support around 200 projects valued at more than $215 million. The $50 million includes $10.9 million that will be provided to 59 businesses in regional Australia to fund projects worth over $57.4 million.

The Australian Government expects projects under round one of the MFF to create around 2,600 new jobs across Australia over the life of the program and have a positive impact on the economy through increasing the competitiveness of Australian manufacturing businesses.

The Australian Government is expanding the MMF by providing a further $52.8 million over three years from 2020-21. The second round of the MMF will continue support to manufacturers across a wide spread of regions and the National Manufacturing Priorities to fast-track Australia’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The MMF provides grants, to be matched by industry contributions, to small and medium sized manufacturing businesses to support transformative investments in manufacturing technologies and processes. The second round of the MMF will support SME manufacturers, including those in regional and metropolitan Australia, to become more competitive and create more jobs.

This measure extends the 2019-20 MYEFO measure titled Election Commitment - Manufacturing Modernisation Fund – establishment.

Unlocking Australia’s Resources Potential – Exploring for the Future 2

On 23 June 2020, the Australian Government announced it is providing $124.5 million over four years from 2020-21 to continue and expand the Exploring for the Future program. The expanded program will extend and expand the geoscientific mapping of the mineral, critical mineral, energy and groundwater resources from northern Australia into southern Australia. In both these regions there are large parts of the country where the resource potential is not well known. The program aims to reduce the risk of, and renew the appetite for, investment in mineral exploration, and help identify major new gas and minerals resources. Exploring for the Future 2 will lead to positive long-term impacts in southern Australia from resulting resources investment and development.

The program will deliver on-the-ground data collection and field work activities in regional and remote Australia, including local contract positions in the mining, equipment, technology and services sector. Those activities will be intensified in two high-potential corridors stretching the length of the nation – from the Gulf of Carpentaria to Victoria, and from Darwin to the Great Australian Bight.

This measure builds on the 2016-17 Budget measure titled National Resources Development Strategy — exploring for the future.

Australia's Cyber Security Strategy 2020

Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy 2020 will invest $1.7 billion over 10 years to achieve the Government’s vision of creating a more secure online world for Australians, their businesses and the essential services upon which we all depend.

Delivering the Cyber Security National Workforce Growth Program

The Australian Government will reallocate $37.7 million from the Australian Signals Directorate to the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources to deliver on the Australian Government’s election commitment for a Cyber Security National Workforce Growth Program. With more businesses adopting digital technologies to engage with customers, employees and suppliers there is a greater need for Australian businesses, including in regional areas, to engage cyber security professionals to help them adopt secure digital business models.

The measure includes:

  • A Cyber Security Skills Partnership Innovation Fund to support industry-led skilling projects that are directly relevant to their specific circumstances and local needs. This is a competitive grants program, and applications to meet regional needs may be received through this process.
  • An expansion of Questacon’s science, technology, engineering and maths programs for school students and teachers to include cyber security. Questacon has a national reach and will deliver programs in both metropolitan and regional areas.
  • Policy reforms to strengthen the link between the cyber security industry and education providers.
  • Collaborative work with universities and academia to encourage cyber security education in adjunct fields such as engineering and data science.
  • Improved data collection on cyber security skills shortages.

Cyber Security Business Connect and Protect Program

The Australian Government will provide $8.3 million over two years from 2020-21 for a grant program to increase the cyber security capability and resilience of Australian small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Under the Cyber Security Business Connect and Protect Program grants will be provided to trusted organisations like chambers of commerce and business associations to raise awareness, increase the capability of SMEs, and promote action to address cyber security risks within their communities. The program also includes provision for improving the existing diagnostic self-assessment tools (available under the Entrepreneurs’ Program) as a mechanism for grant recipients to determine SMEs’ baseline cyber security posture.

Grant recipients will also be provided with best practice cyber security guidance from the Australian Cyber Security Centre to ensure the advice they provide to SMEs is accurate and up to date. To maximise the reach of the program, grants will be provided to trusted organisations across a balance of jurisdictions in metropolitan and regional areas.

JobMaker Plan – Digital Business Plan

The Australian Government’s Digital Business Plan will accelerate the digital capability of Australian businesses, by supporting strategic investments in digital technology, skills and infrastructure, and finding digital solutions to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses. The Plan includes initiatives to enable Australia’s technology future, creating jobs in high growth potential sectors and supporting Australia’s longer-term goal of becoming a leading digital economy by 2030. The Plan complements initiatives in Australia's Cyber Security Strategy 2020 that supports a secure digital economy by building the cyber security resilience and capability of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Using Blockchain Technology to Reduce Business Compliance Costs

The Australian Government will provide $6.9 million over two years from 2020-21 to support two industry-led blockchain pilots related to critical minerals and food provenance. The pilots will demonstrate the application of blockchain technology to reduce regulatory compliance costs and encourage broader take up of the productivity boosting technology by Australian businesses. If successful, the technology will have a positive impact on regional mining and food businesses.

Accelerating the Digital Capability of Australian Businesses

The Australian Government will provide $3 million over four years from 2020-21 to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies by Australian businesses, including in regional Australia, to drive long term productivity growth, business resilience and build on the digital momentum gained throughout the COVID‑19 pandemic. The measure consists of:

  • Digital Readiness Assessment tool to assist businesses self-assess their digital maturity and provide direction and pathways to existing government programs and resources to pursue digital transformation.
  • Digital Directors training package for the directors and leaders of Australian organisations to improve their digital investment decision making.

Digital Skills Finder Platform

The Australian Government will provide $2.5 million in 2020-21 to establish a platform that will enable Australian workers and small to medium enterprises to easily find digital skills training courses for reskilling and upskilling. This measure will help create pathways to jobs, accelerate the adoption of digital technologies by Australian businesses, including in regional areas, and contribute to long term productivity growth and business resilience. This will benefit regional Australia as digital skills enhance the output of individual workers, a key contributor to regional productivity growth.

Supporting Small Business to go Digital Post-COVID-19

The Australian Government will provide $19.2 million in 2020-21 to expand the Australian Small Business Advisory Service – Digital Solutions (ASBAS-DS) program and launch a ‘Go Digital’ national advertising campaign to promote the benefits of digital technology. More than half of the small businesses currently receiving support from ASBAS-DS providers are located in regional areas. It is expected this level of service will remain broadly consistent under the expanded ASBAS-DS program. Regional and rural communities will be a target audience of the national campaign.

Growing Australia’s Space Industry

On 21 September 2019, the Australian Government announced a $150 million investment over five years from 2020-21 to accelerate the growth of Australia’s space sector. It is an investment in Australia to provide the opportunity for Australian businesses and researchers in regional and metropolitan areas to join the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) inspirational plan to return to the Moon and then go on to Mars. This initiative will support Australian businesses across the country to access national and international space supply chains, and leverage Australia’s areas of strength to attract international investment and lasting partnerships with global industry leaders. The investment will create jobs in Australia and support the growth of industries in regions and across the economy through the development and application of space technologies. In doing so, the initiative contributes to the Government’s aim of tripling the size of the space sector to $12 billion and creating up to an additional 20,000 jobs by 2030.

In the 2019-20 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, the Australian Government also provided an additional $2.8 million over four years from 2019-20 to assist the Australian Space Agency to assess an increase in applications to undertake civil space activities under the Space (Launches and Returns) Act 2018. Applicants are expected to be located in both metropolitan and regional areas.

These measures build on the 2019-20 Budget measure titled Space Infrastructure Fund and the 2018-19 Budget measure titled Australian Technology and Science Growth Plan — growing the Australian space industry.

Steel Processing and Galvanising Plant in Whyalla – upgrade

The Australian Government will provide $15 million in 2020-21 to Ferretti International to upgrade its steel and galvanising plant in Whyalla, South Australia. The upgraded plant will allow an expanded range of steel to be processed in the Spencer Gulf for the Australian market, with flow-on benefits to the region.

This measure builds on the 2019-20 MYEFO measure Interconnector Funding – delivering reliable and affordable energy.

Advanced Manufacturing Facility and Vehicle to Grid Trial

The Australian Government will provide $5 million in 2020-21 to Australian Clean Energy (ACE) Electric Vehicle Group to establish an advanced manufacturing facility in South Australia to facilitate the manufacturing and assembly of electric vehicles. The funding will also support ACE Electric Vehicle Group to undertake a bi-directional vehicle-to-grid trial to examine the concept and operation of systems which support solar home charging, grid services and virtual storage infrastructure.

The manufacturing facility will have flow on benefits to the South Australian region where it is located, including the creation of jobs during the construction and operation of the facility, including in the automotive supply chain.

National Bushfire Recovery Fund – Entrepreneurs’ Programme –Bushfire Regional Recovery and Resilience

The Australian Government committed $2 billion to a National Bushfire Recovery Fund (NBRF) to assist regional communities and businesses to recover and rebuild following the 2019-20 bushfires. Through the NBRF the Government will provide $12.8 million over two years from 2020-21 to provide recovery and resilience advice to businesses in regions impacted by the bushfires. Leveraging the existing Entrepreneurs’ Programme, tailored advice on how to access existing assistance, build business capability and develop sustainable business plans will support regional businesses to recover, while stimulating economic growth in the regions.

Australian Made Export Campaign

In the 2019-20 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, the Australian Government provided $5 million over four years from 2019-20 to the Australian Made Campaign Ltd (AMCL) to develop and deliver an Australian Made Export Campaign for the benefit of Australian exporters, including those operating in regional areas. Funding will support AMCL to promote the Australian Made logo (the logo) on behalf of Australian businesses internationally, and register the logo as a trademark in additional countries, including where Australia has a Free Trade Agreement or where one is being developed.

This measure delivers on the Australian Government's election commitment.

Incubator Support Initiative – expansion

In the 2019-20 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, the Australian Government provided an additional $5 million over four years from 2019-20 to expand the Incubator Support Initiative under the Entrepreneurs’ Programme to assist first generation migrants and refugees to establish start-up businesses. Grant funding enables organisations to deliver targeted services including education, acceleration, incubation and mentoring, and to provide advice on how to establish and manage a start-up business. The measure is supporting businesses in regional areas through dedicated advisors and facilitators across Australia.

This measure delivers on the Australian Government's election commitment.

COVID-19 Response Package – emergency response

As part of the Australian Government’s emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government provided $4 million to Med-Con, based in Shepparton, Victoria, to assist the company to supply surgical masks for the National Medical Stockpile. The grant supported the company to purchase seven new machines and employ additional staff. The new machines have been made by manufacturer Foodmach, based in Echuca, Victoria.

National Research Centre for Disaster Resilience

On 23 July 2020, the Australian Government announced $88.1 million over 12 years from 2020-21 to transition the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre into a new National Research Centre for Disaster Resilience, which will deliver and scale up applied research to inform Australia’s disaster recovery and resilience effort. The work of the new National Research Centre for Disaster Resilience will support businesses and communities across Australia, including in regional Australia, with the regional landscape, which is at a heightened risk of impact from natural hazard events such as bushfires, drought and flooding.

JobMaker Plan – Second Women's Economic Security Package

The Australian Government is committed to improving the economic security of women to help unlock the potential of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and entrepreneurship.

Boosting Female Founders Initiative – expansion

The Australian Government will provide $35.9 million over five years from 2020-21 to expand the Boosting Female Founders Initiative (the Initiative). The purpose of the Initiative is to support women to access the finance they need to achieve their entrepreneurial goals. The expanded Initiative will increase the number of co-funded grants provided to women-owned and led start-ups and introduce a new service to provide access to expert mentoring and advice for women entrepreneurs.

Acknowledging the disproportionate challenges faced by regional and indigenous women entrepreneurs, the Initiative offers more generous matched funding for these disadvantaged groups to ensure greater support and access to capital.

Ensuring Australia’s Future Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics can contribute to the Australian Economy

The Australian Government will provide $14.5 million over four years from 2020-21 to secure positive employment and economic outcomes for women and girls over the long-term. This includes:

  • Expanding the Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship (WISE) Grants Program to support a range of projects led by business, industry and the community that contribute to lasting systemic change by removing barriers to women’s and girls’ participation in STEM.
  • Expansion of the Girls in STEM Toolkit (GiST) to support students to prepare for and engage in jobs of the future. This will enable development of resources for girls, teachers and their families focused on helping them to understand the STEM pipeline and the future career opportunities STEM skills can bring.
  • Extension of the Women in STEM Ambassador initiative for an additional two years from 2022-23, to continue the substantial contribution made by the position while Australia recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

These measures build on the 2018-19 Budget measure titled Encouraging More Women to Pursue STEM Education and Careers, the 2019-20 Budget measure titled Improving STEM Gender Equity in Australia and the 2019-20 MYEFO measure titled Encouraging More Women into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

JobMaker Plan – Improving Energy Affordability and Reliability

The Australian Government is ensuring Australians have access to affordable, reliable and secure energy supply through a set of initiatives that support critical transmission projects, generation and battery projects. These measures will support Australia’s energy transition through a period of significant change and support COVID-19 economic recovery efforts.

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To deliver on the Australian Government’s commitment to support reliable energy infrastructure in north and central Queensland, the Government will provide a grant with CuString Pty Ltd for the CopperString 2.0 Project to enable the project to progress to a final investment decision. This is in addition to $4.7 million the Government provided in 2018-19.

The proposed CopperString 2.0 Project would connect the North West Minerals Province near Mount Isa to the National Electricity Market (NEM) near Townsville through a high voltage transmission connection. The project aims to allow major users in the Mount Isa region to access reliable and more affordable energy supply, encourage further investment in mining and processing in the region, and create opportunities to unlock additional renewable generation between Townsville and Mount Isa.

CuString Pty Ltd estimates the project would create around 750 direct jobs during the construction phase, approximately 30 direct ongoing operational and maintenance jobs, and stimulate economic development in north and central Queensland. Major energy users and prospective new users in the North West Minerals Province will be able to access market contracts and mechanisms in the NEM, contributing to pricing competition.

Delta Electricity’s Vales Point Power Station

To support lower electricity prices and strengthen reliability in the National Electricity Market, the Government will provide a grant to support an upgrade of Vales Point Power Station. This funding will allow the replacement of key components and allow the power station to generate up to its nameplate capacity when required, particularly during peak periods.

Vales Point is located in Lake Macquarie, in the Hunter region of New South Wales (NSW) and provided approximately 13 per cent of the state’s dispatchable energy generation in 2019‑20. Support for an upgrade to Vales Point will increase dispatchable supply in the NSW market, reducing the risk of supply shortfalls and extreme prices after Liddell exits the market in 2023. This project would benefit electricity consumers connected to the NEM, particularly in NSW, through increased competition, reliability, and dispatchable capacity.

The upgrade will support 29 direct jobs over the three year development and construction timeframe.

Measures to Support the Western Australia State Deal – SWIS Big Battery

The Australian Government will provide two Commonwealth grants to the Western Australian (WA) Government, which will form part of a State Energy and Emissions Reduction Deal with WA. The grants include $15 million for the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) Big Battery project, which will enable the WA Government, through Synergy, to install and commission a transmission connected Battery Energy Storage Solution (BESS). The project is expected to generate jobs during the construction phase, as well as ongoing operational jobs.

The WA Government estimates that Commonwealth support for the SWIS Big Battery Project will create 100 jobs during the construction phase and five permanent operational positions, once the battery is fully operational.

Supporting Critical Transmission Projects

The Australian Government will work with state governments to agree support arrangements for critical transmission projects – Project EnergyConnect, VNI West and Marinus Link. Accelerating the delivery of these projects through Commonwealth support will lock in low prices for consumers, including those in the manufacturing sector, and strengthen energy security and reliability, which will support broader economic recovery.

Government support for these large transmission projects will generate significant direct and indirect employment opportunities. Construction of these projects will deliver over 4,000 direct jobs (both skilled and unskilled labour), and indirect employment opportunities (goods and services roles, food, beverage, accommodation, equipment and supplies, and other local services). Employment related to early works (for example, engineering design, environmental and economic assessment, and community consultation), as well as indirect employment opportunities would be supported immediately. Transmission projects will also help unlock new renewable energy investment and associated employment opportunities in regional areas, creating more opportunities for employment and skills development for regional areas and helping drive economic recovery.

Interconnector Funding – Delivering Reliable and Affordable Energy

Through a bilateral energy and emissions reduction agreement, the Australian Government, in partnership with the New South Wales (NSW) Government, is accelerating transmission interconnector projects to ensure the delivery of reliable and affordable energy in the National Electricity Market (NEM).

Under this agreement, the Australian and NSW Governments are jointly underwriting the early works for an upgrade to the Queensland-NSW interconnector. The Australian and NSW Governments will also jointly underwrite the proposed HumeLink transmission line (up to $65.7 million). Underwriting these works will support the reliability and security of the NEM as it transitions to lower emissions technology. These projects will deliver direct and indirect employment to regional areas and allow additional renewable energy generation to be built. In particular, HumeLink will provide load centres access to Snowy 2.0, which is scheduled to dispatch its first power in mid-2025.

Grid Reliability Fund – establishment

On 30 October 2019, the Australian Government announced it will provide $1 billion to establish a Grid Reliability Fund (GRF) to support investment in new energy generation, storage and transmission infrastructure to ensure the security of electricity and delivery of secure and reliable energy for Australian households, businesses and industries. The GRF will be administered by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

Eligible investments under the GRF will include energy storage projects, including pumped hydro and batteries, transmission and distribution infrastructure and grid stabilising technologies. The CEFC will also consider eligible projects that are shortlisted under the Underwriting New Generation Investments program.

The GRF will prioritise investments in jurisdictions where state and territory governments are working with the Commonwealth towards an agreed reliability goal and to ensure sufficient reliable generation capacity is available to meet periods of high demand.

Collinsville Feasibility Study

The Australian Government has supported a feasibility study for Shine Energy Pty Ltd to assess the potential for new electricity generation in central and north Queensland. The $3.3 million grant is to investigate the feasibility of a high-efficiency, low-emissions (HELE) coal plant at Collinsville south of Townsville, Queensland.

JobMaker Plan – Securing Australia’s Liquid Fuel Stocks

The Australian Government is committed to improving Australia’s fuel security through a set of initiatives that will increase our domestic storage, support local refineries, and improve the efficiency and timeliness of fuel market information.

Provide Certainty of Stocks and Refining Capacity in Australia

The Australian Government will develop a policy framework for a minimum stockholding obligation. This will require the fuel industry to hold gasoline and jet fuel stocks at current levels and increase diesel stocks, with refineries only required to hold current levels of stock. This framework will involve design and negotiation of a market system that provides refineries an additional income stream that reflects their fuel security and sovereign capability value to Australia. This will see additional diesel storage built and a level of transport fuels maintained, improving our resilience to supply shocks.

Diesel fuels most of Australia’s industries. It keeps road freight moving goods around the country and is key to industries such as mining and agriculture. Securing fuel stocks and refining capability will provide regional Australians, as well as the small to large enterprises conducting business regionally, with the confidence that their fuel supplies will continue even in times of moderate to severe supply disruption. Security of fuel supplies will also help protect regional Australians from excessive price rises during fuel disruptions.

Implementing Australia’s Fuel Storage Program

As part of the package of measures to enhance Australia’s fuel security and bolster local industry, the Australian Government will invest $200 million in a competitive grants program to help industry to transition to holding higher diesel stock levels.

The competitive grants program will have a focus on projects in strategic regional locations, and with connections to refineries and existing fuel infrastructure. An additional 780 megalitres of diesel storage is expected to be required to allow industry to meet the minimum stockholding obligation, and construction is expected to create around 1000 jobs, including in regional areas. The program is expected to launch by the first quarter of 2021.

Having adequate diesel storage will provide regional businesses with confidence that their fuel supply will not be disrupted. Diesel storage is also essential for emergency services and is the backup power source for electricity generation in critical services like hospitals, water and sanitation, as well as for electricity generation in remote communities.

Improving Fuel Market Information

The Australian Government will provide $3.3 million over four years from 2020-21 to modernise and enhance its Petroleum Statistics Information Management System (PSIMS) to improve reporting and transparency in Australia’s liquid fuel market, as recommended in the Liquid Fuel Security Review. This will help improve efficiency and timeliness of fuel market information which will help governments, industry and consumers respond to and mitigate the risks of impacts from liquid fuel supply disruptions, track fuel supplies critical to Australia’s economy, and inform investment decisions.

This measure will support regional economies by supporting government capability to respond to liquid fuel emergencies, support investment decision making and help reduce the risks of unemployment as a consequence of supply disruptions.

JobMaker Plan – gas fired recovery

The Australian Government is coordinating short and longer term priority actions across the gas supply chain to unlock supply, deliver efficient transportation, and empower consumers. This will deliver reliable gas supply at affordable prices to all gas consumers and strengthen the economy. The Government’s plan will build on the policy developments currently underway and guide the implementation of new policies, infrastructure development programs and market reform measures.

Australia’s Gas Plan

The Australian Government will provide $10.9 million in 2020-21 to progress an Australian Gas Plan to support investment to increase supply, deliver lower cost transport, establish more liquid trading hubs, and support a more transparent and competitive market. The plan will deliver on the Government’s commitment to deliver reliable gas supply at affordable prices to gas consumers in industry, business and households. Funding will support the following activities:

  • The development of an interim National Gas Infrastructure Plan to identify strategic priorities for investing in the gas sector, and signal to the market the optimal gas supply and infrastructure development pathway for the east coast. The National Gas Infrastructure Plan will identify investment opportunities, gaps, and barriers in the gas market which could lead to economic development opportunities in the regions to address gas supply.
  • Development of a strategy to boost the Wallumbilla Gas Supply Hub, in central Queensland, to create a more open and transparent trading system.
  • Enhancing the pipeline capacity trading framework and empowering gas consumers.

The outcomes of the plan will benefit regional Australia, where many gas production and infrastructure projects are located and will encourage gas intensive businesses in manufacturing and processing to move to where gas supply is assured and transportation costs are minimised.

Accelerating New Gas Supply to Market – Strategic Basin Plans

The Australian Government will establish five Strategic Basin Plans to accelerate development of Australia’s vast gas reserves, increase domestic gas supply, lower gas prices and avoid gas shortfalls. One Strategic Basin Plan is already underway for the Beetaloo Gas Basin in the Northern Territory. The Government will provide $28.3 million over three years from 2020-21 to establish a further four Strategic Basin Plans, with the first for North Bowen and Galilee in Queensland. The plans will target resource basins located in regional and northern Australia in order to maximise regional jobs creation in the long-term, and support development of new manufacturing capacity and capabilities.

Each resource basin is unique, requiring detailed consideration of infrastructure needs, geographical characteristics, geological conditions, water availability, and environmental, Indigenous and community matters. Strategic Basin Plans will set out coordinated work plans and identify the roles and responsibilities of industry, communities, the relevant state or territory government and the Australian Government.

Building Community Support for the Gas-Fired Recovery

The Australian Government will provide $13.7 million over four years from 2020-21 to continue the Onshore Gas Social and Economic Research Fund (the Fund). The Fund provides independent scientific research to enable Australians to form their own views of the social, economic and environmental impacts and benefits of gas development. This is done through the work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA), which is a collaboration between the CSIRO, the Australian Government, state and territory governments, and industry.

The new funding will support research projects which deliver robust, independent research to inform local communities in regional areas where gas development occurs, including in the identified strategic basins.

GISERA’s research program includes: research on surface and ground water; greenhouse gas footprint; agricultural land management; health; and socio-economic impacts and opportunities. GISERA’s research independence is ensured through the strong governance framework, which includes project approval from Regional Research Advisory Committees and CSIRO’s peer review process. All research, communication outputs and meeting records for the regional research advisory committees for each collaborating jurisdiction, are available on GISERA’s website: gisera.csiro.au.

This measure builds on the 2016-17 MYEFO measure titled Onshore Gas Social and Economic Research Fund - establishment.

JobMaker Plan – Investment in New Energy Technologies

The Australian Government is investing in new and emerging technologies that will support jobs, strengthen our economy and reduce emissions. A package of measures will provide incentives to boost productivity and competitiveness, expand clean technology industries and create jobs in targeted industries and regions. It will support the Government’s technology-based approach by accelerating the next generation of energy technologies and driving emissions reductions, particularly in hard-to-abate sectors of the economy like transport, industry and agriculture. Measures will incentivise private sector action and support the adoption of transformational low emission technologies by addressing barriers, simplifying regulation and developing tools to support investment decisions.

Implementing the Technology Investment Roadmap

The Australian Government will provide $5.2 million over four years from 2020-21 to accelerate deployment of new and emerging priority technologies that have the highest abatement and economic potential for Australia. This funding enables the Technology Investment Roadmap (the Roadmap) to identify these priority technologies; deployment will be supported by $1.4 billion for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Technology Co-Investment Fund which will support businesses to identify and adopt technologies that will reduce emissions and increase productivity. Centred on the implementation of the Roadmap, a Technology Investment Advisory Council will be established to support the development of annual low emissions technology statements. The statements set clear cost reduction goals for priority sectors and direct public and private sector investment to achieve these cost reductions.

Increased investment in priority technologies – such as an emerging hydrogen industry, low emissions steel and aluminium and carbon capture storage and use – are expected to deliver significant employment and economic benefits to regional areas, where many of these industries are located or where mature technologies like coal-fired generation can benefit from emissions reductions technologies. A conservative estimate indicates the roadmap will support over 100,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2030, more than half of these in regional communities.

A focus on enabling technologies that allow long distance transmission of renewable energy is expected to provide remote and regional industries and communities with reliable, competitively priced energy. Investment in broader energy efficiency technologies will help boost productivity in agricultural, mining and manufacturing sectors.

Australian Renewable Energy Agency Funding

To support implementation of the Technology Investment Roadmap, the Australian Government will provide $1.4 billion over 10 years from 2022-23 for Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) funding. Funding will support research and development in the Government’s technology priorities, and help to achieve cost reduction goals identified through the Technology Investment Roadmap including hydrogen, grid scale energy storage, low carbon steel and aluminium and soil carbon.

ARENA has a long-standing focus on delivering energy innovation in regional Australia. ARENA supports research, development and deployment and focuses on new and emerging technology investments which increase the affordability and reliability of energy for Australians, including those in regional communities.

ARENA has worked to bring the next generation of renewables to market through pilots, trials and studies in regional Australia. Examples include a hybrid wind, solar and storage facility at Kennedy Energy Park, Queensland, and the Battery of the Nation suite of projects, Tasmania. Since its inception ARENA has seen more than $750 million invested in projects in regional Australia, creating approximately 8,200 direct and indirect jobs in these areas.

King Review Technology Co-Investment Fund

The Australian Government will provide $95.4 million over six years from 2020-21 to establish the King Review Technology Co-Investment Fund (the Fund) to support businesses to identify and adopt technologies that will reduce emissions and increase productivity.

The Fund will provide $67.9 million for business co-investment opportunities to be delivered by ARENA, which will support:

  • Companies in the industrial sector to source external experts and undertake detailed engineering studies to analyse opportunities to reduce energy costs.
  • Transport companies to test and evaluate new technologies that improve energy efficiency.

The Fund will also provide $27.5 million to improve knowledge sharing arrangements and simplify access to trusted information, including through:

  • Industrial benchmarks to help Australia’s manufacturing and construction industries identify energy productivity improvements and inform clean energy decisions.
  • Detailed information on the outcomes of trials undertaken through the co-investment fund to help transport companies better understand the suitability of low emission vehicles and technologies that improve fuel efficiency for their businesses.
  • Improved knowledge sharing with natural resource management groups and Indigenous land managers to enable greater participation in the Emissions Reduction Fund.
  • Support for the implementation of new abatement technologies and data collection that increase soil carbon and carbon storage in vegetation and reduce livestock emissions.

The delivery of co-investment opportunities to support businesses in industrial, agricultural, transport and land management sectors is expected to drive commercial investment in regional areas where these sectors are primarily located.

Legislative Changes to Enable Further Abatement and Growth of the Offshore Renewable Energy Sector

The Australian Government will provide $4.8 million over two years from 2020-21 to develop a regulatory framework to provide investment certainty to offshore clean energy investors and legislative amendments to simplify business participation in the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) as recommended by the King Review. These legislative reforms are intended to remove barriers to unlocking low-cost abatement, deliver emissions reduction across the economy, improve the capacity of regional industry to engage with emissions reductions programs and promote economic growth in regional areas through the creation of jobs and new industries. Offshore clean energy regulation will enable private investments in commercially viable locations with exceptional wind resources, which are typically found near regional communities. Proposed legislative reforms in the Climate Solutions (King Implementation and Other Measures) Amendment Bill will improve the capacity of regional businesses to access the ERF. Greater uptake of ERF projects in regional areas will also benefit participating farmers, landholders and Indigenous communities that will receive a stable diversified income stream and incentives to implement new and better land practices.

Future Fuels Package

The Australian Government will provide $74.5 million over four years from 2020-21 to implement the Future Fuels Package to assist businesses overcome barriers to incorporating new vehicle technology into their fleets, including charging and refuelling infrastructure, and to support long-term opportunities offered by future liquid fuels, electricity and hydrogen. The measure includes:

  • The co-investment Future Fuels Fund to enable businesses to integrate new vehicle technologies using electricity, hydrogen or biofuels into their fleets, including support to install chargers at commercial bases for fleet cars and light commercial vehicles, and installation of chargers to address electric vehicle charging blackspots.
  • A future fuels integration analysis to better understand Australia’s future transport fuel use, and to assess the electrical standards and data mechanisms needed to effectively integrate electric vehicles into the electricity grid.
  • Improved information on electric vehicles (EVs) and charging infrastructure for business and community to enable choice.

Support to install infrastructure for businesses choosing to integrate new vehicle technology into their fleets is expected to create jobs, many in regional areas, by accelerating the growth of clean vehicle technology industries. Improving access to chargers will also increase the ability of regional consumers to choose EVs and increase options for transport in regional areas.

Activating Regional Hydrogen Export Hubs

The Australian Government will provide $70.2 million over five years from 2020-21 for a grants program to boost Australia’s hydrogen industry through creation of a regional hydrogen export hub, supported by research collaborations and international supply chain studies to demonstrate and deploy hydrogen technology in Australia.

Hydrogen hubs are regions where hydrogen users are co-located, creating efficiencies in supply and focal points for innovation and skills development. Export focused hubs are expected near Australian ports, to create global hydrogen supply chain linkages.

The program will initially provide grants focused on research collaboration and supply chain studies and progressively shift to providing funding for the construction of a hydrogen hub. It is expected the hydrogen hub will be located in regional Australia. Funding will be allocated through competitive processes, based on pitches from industry and other factors, including regional benefits.

The development of a hydrogen hub is expected to drive economic growth and create jobs in the regional centre where the hub will be located.

Enabling Markets, Supporting Communities and Boosting Energy Productivity in the Building Sector

The Australian Government will provide $52.2 million over five years from 2020-21 to improve productivity and lower energy costs in the building and community sectors. This measure includes funding for:

  • The Hotel Energy Uplift Program to provide grants to small and medium sized hotels for use in upgrades to improve productivity and lower energy costs. It is expected economic benefits beyond energy savings will be realised in regional Australia.
  • The Powering Communities Program to provide grants to assist not-for-profit community organisations to improve energy efficiency practices and technologies and better manage energy consumption. It is expected economic benefits beyond energy savings will be realised in regional Australia.

Improving energy efficiency will contribute to cost savings across the economy and will help lower energy bills for Australians, including those living in rural and regional communities.

The Carbon Capture, Use and Storage Development Fund

The Australian Government is establishing a $50 million Carbon Capture, Use and Storage (CCUS) Development Fund to promote carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects. Projects will support emissions reduction in power generation, cement, natural gas production or heavy industry. Projects will be selected through a competitive grant funding program. The CCUS Development Fund will assist projects transition from the research and development stage to commercial scale.

It is expected that projects will primarily be located in regional Australia and will provide employment opportunities to local communities. Deployment of CCUS has the potential to create not only jobs for regional Australians but also support innovative business opportunities in regional areas.

Measures to Support the Western Australia State Deal – Microgrids

The Australian Government will provide two Commonwealth grants to the Western Australian (WA) Government, which will form part of a State Energy and Emissions Reduction Deal with WA. The grants include $13.5 million for a WA-based microgrids program for remote communities, which will support the WA Government to extend an existing program to deliver solutions across remote Aboriginal communities and regional towns. This will support economic development and provide infrastructure to promote energy security and reliability.

Accelerating infrastructure projects through the Western Australia State Deal will support Australia’s COVID-19 recovery by creating up to 385 jobs in remote regions. This measure will enable the WA-based microgrids program to extend to an additional seven remote communities and regional locations, supporting economic development and reducing disadvantage for community households. The WA-based microgrids program has typically created 40 jobs per site for a six month period. Doubling the program would deliver around 280 jobs for six month engagements. Providing communities with cheaper and more secure energy solutions will also have indirect job creation impacts, by supporting economic development and business creation.

Extending the Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund

The Australian Government will provide $53.6 million over six years from 2020-21 to extend the Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund (RRCRF) to support pilot studies for microgrids in regional and remote areas. The extension will support feasible microgrid projects to undertake pilot studies to resolve the remaining barriers to final investment and full deployment for those projects. Grants will fund 50 per cent of the project value up to a maximum value of $5 million and will be based on community needs and ability to pay.

Projects are expected to be deployed in regional and remote communities, stimulating local economies and demonstrating the value of microgrids in areas prone to outages. Microgrids can provide increased energy security, resilience and affordability through integration of distributed energy resources. They can also contribute to lowering emissions, as regional households and businesses lower their reliance on diesel generators by adopting solar and storage systems. This measure will benefit regional and remote communities connected to pilot sites.

Measures to Support the National Hydrogen Strategy

In the 2019-20 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, the Australian Government provided $383.4 million from 2019-20 to support the National Hydrogen Strategy, including:

  • Up to $300 million in capital funding to establish the Advancing Hydrogen Fund within the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). The fund is providing concessional finance to support projects and businesses that involve hydrogen technologies that have passed beyond the research and development stage but are not yet of sufficient maturity, size or otherwise commercially ready to attract sufficient private sector investment. This includes investments to support projects in regional Australia.
  • $70 million from 2020-21 for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to support hydrogen electrolyser projects through the Renewable Hydrogen Deployment Funding Round.
  • $7.5 million over four years from 2019-20 to address regulatory barriers and undertake detailed economic and technical analyses to support decision making for Australia's actions in the global hydrogen market.
  • $5.9 million over four years from 2019-20 to increase engagement with international hydrogen forums and fund feasibility studies to determine the technological and economic conditions required for establishing successful supply chains with international partners.

JobMaker Plan – Deregulation Package

The Australian Government will also provide $24.6 million over four years from 2020‑21, with $2.6 million each year from 2024-25, for the Clean Energy Regulator to consolidate the development, implementation, and review of Emissions Reduction Fund methods, reduce transaction costs associated with selling Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs), and reduce timeframes for ERF project registrations and ACCU crediting. This will benefit business and individuals, emission reduction project developers and service providers, including in rural and regional areas, by lowering costs of participation in the ERF, providing greater recognition for voluntary action and reducing time and costs associated with investing in emissions reductions.

Over $2.4 billion has been committed under the ERF supporting emissions reduction projects, with around $2 billion flowing to rural and regional areas to date. Greater participation in the ERF means more investment to benefit regional economies and more jobs in regional areas.

Australian Recycling Investment Fund

On 5 June 2019, the Australian Government committed $100 million in funding from 2020-21 to establish an Australian Recycling Investment Fund (ARIF). The ARIF is administered by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and funds investments in the manufacturing of lower emissions and energy efficient recycled content products, which will have impacts for both urban and regional areas.

This measure delivers on the Australian Government's election commitment.

Critical Minerals Capabilities

On 14 November 2019, the Australian Government announced a $16.1 million measure to support the development of Australia’s critical minerals capabilities, and boost Australia’s contribution to enhancing the stability and security of global critical minerals supply chains. Australia has world-leading reserves of critical minerals across regional areas. These present commercial opportunities for our businesses, as well as job creation potential in regional Australia.

The measure provided, over five years from 2019-20, $9.4 million to establish a Critical Minerals Facilitation Office (CMFO) in the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources; $4.5 million for the Advancing Research and Development for Critical Minerals Program, to be implemented by Australian Government scientific agencies, and $2.2 million to Austrade to expand its program of critical minerals trade and investment facilitation.

The CMFO is providing a whole-of-government critical mineral policy coordination function; dedicated project facilitation service for strategic Australian critical minerals projects; and undertake international engagement to promote investment in Australia’s.

Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility – extension and enhancements

The Australian Government is committed to developing northern Australia, and ensuring investment in the region continues in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. On 17 July 2020, the Australian Government announced it will extend the period in which the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) can make investment decisions by five years, from 30 June 2021 to 30 June 2026. The Government will provide $36.9 million over four years from 2020-21 (and a further $25.2 million for the two years to 2025-26), offset by fee and interest revenue, to support the extension of the investment window and to address recommendations of the statutory review of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).

The reforms focus on an option to increase the NAIF’s lending speed in certain circumstances, increase the risk appetite, expand its lending to a broader array and scale of projects, and strengthen governance.

The reforms include:

  • The NAIF will have the option to lend directly to project proponents in certain circumstances, which will simplify the lending process and simplify and accelerate the lending process.
  • Expanded eligibility criteria focusing on project outcomes. For example, the NAIF will be able to finance project elements such as plant and equipment that result in new construction and job creation, rather than financing the physical construction of infrastructure only.
  • Adjusting the NAIF’s risk appetite.
  • Improved governance arrangements for the NAIF, supporting more efficient and effective lending processes.

The NAIF is a major initiative of the Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia. It is an Australian Government $5 billion lending facility to provide finance, which may be on concessional terms, to infrastructure projects in northern Australia.

The aim of the NAIF is to accelerate infrastructure development by providing finance that generates:

  • Public benefit that is broad based and ensures benefits to the community beyond those captured by project proponents.
  • Growth in the economy and population of northern Australia.
  • Private sector participation in the financing of northern Australia’s infrastructure needs.
  • Sustainable Indigenous participation, procurement and employment outcomes.

As of September 2020, the NAIF had made 24 investment decisions and one conditional credit approval, committing almost $2.4 billion of the $5 billion available. These investments are contributing $6.7 billion in net economic benefit.

Investment decisions to offer finance are made by the independent NAIF Board in accordance with the NAIF Investment Mandate. The NAIF can support projects across all sectors. Examples of the type of projects that may be eligible include ports, airports, rail, roads, water, energy and communications networks. Social infrastructure (including health, education, and research facilities, training and related accommodation facilities), processing facilities (including abattoirs and agricultural processing plants) and transhipment vessels may also be eligible.

This measure extends on the 2015-16 Budget measure titled Developing Northern Australia — Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.  

National Radioactive Waste Management Facility program – continuation

On 21 July 2020, the Australian Government announced the establishment of the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency (ARWA). ARWA will be based in Adelaide. ARWA will be responsible for the siting, construction and operation of the Facility and for the development of an intermediate level waste disposal pathway. The Government will provide $103.6 million over four years from 2020-21 to progress this critical work.

This important piece of national infrastructure is a significant regional economic development opportunity. The Facility will create a new, safe industry for the host community, including 45 jobs in community liaison, security, operations, administration and environmental monitoring. This will bring direct and indirect economic benefits to South Australia.

The Australian Government has committed the Facility will create local jobs, not fly-in-fly-out positions. Cadence Economics estimated the 45 full-time equivalent workers would earn, in total, a combined $4.7 million in salary per annum, which would be a significant investment into the local economy.

The Australian Government is also committed to promoting research and development benefits for the agricultural sector in the host community.

Community Benefit Program for Hawker and Kimba, South Australia – establishment

On 8 October 2019, the Australian Government announced the Community Benefit Program totalling $4 million over two years from 2019-20 for the Hawker and Kimba communities of South Australia that were being considered for the site of the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (the Facility).

The program, which is similar to payments made in comparable countries, was developed to assist in mitigating any potential impacts associated with the ongoing consultation period, and to build economic capacity, skills and resilience.

Rum Jungle Rehabilitation Project – additional funding

The Australian Government will provide, under a funding agreement, $3.5 million over two years from 2020-21 to the Northern Territory (NT) Government to expedite land management works at the former Rum Jungle Mine site, located approximately 100 kilometres from Darwin. The project includes the removal of weeds, scrap and asbestos material and revegetation, and will create meaningful employment opportunities for the site’s Indigenous community. Local and NT-based businesses will supply the project.

This measure builds on the Australian and NT governments’ 2017 agreement to support ongoing site activities in consultation with Indigenous communities.

Former British Government Nuclear Testing Site at Maralinga, South Australia – funding support

On 8 July 2020, the Australian Government announced it will provide $2.5 million over four years from 2020-21 ($0.4 million per year ongoing from 2024-25) to support monitoring and maintenance work at the former British Government nuclear testing site on the Maralinga Tjarutja lands in South Australia. The funding will also enable detailed site investigations to inform a long-term remediation action plan for non-radiological materials at the site, and support construction of permanent accommodation for current and future Maralinga caretakers.

Activities under this measure will take place on Maralinga Tjarutja lands in remote South Australia, with the title for Maralinga vested in the Maralinga Tjarutja through the Maralinga Tjarutja Land Rights Act 1984 (SA). The activities will support the Traditional Owners to reconnect with traditional lands.

The Australian Government funds monitoring and maintenance activities connected to the British Government’s nuclear testing program at Maralinga under the terms of the 2009 Handback Deed. The Australian Government has provided annual funding for these activities since Maralinga’s rehabilitation in the 1990s; this announcement provides greater certainty to Indigenous communities by preserving ongoing funding.

COVID‑19 Response Package – BusinessBalance – supporting the mental health of Australians in small businesses

The Australian Government will provide $7 million in 2020-21 to provide immediate, short‑term support for small business mental and financial wellbeing through the response and recovery phases of the COVID-19 pandemic by:

  • Providing free, accessible and tailored support for small business owners to help them manage the pressures associated with owning a business, particularly during COVID-19 by expanding Beyond Blue’s NewAccess program in partnership with the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman.
  • Building the ‘mental health literacy’ of trusted business advisers by expanding a free accredited professional development program that integrates mental health first aid training with a relationship-centred business mentoring approach, delivered through Deakin University.

Activities will be delivered and promoted nationwide. Small businesses will have equal access to the New Access program regardless of geographic location.

Payment Times Reporting Scheme – establishment

In the 2019-20 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, the Australian Government provided $10 million over four years from 2019-20, and $2.6 million in 2023-24, with $2.4 million per year ongoing from 2024-25, to implement a reporting scheme requiring large businesses to publish information on payment behaviour, including how quickly small business suppliers are paid.

Eligible large businesses who carry on an enterprise in Australia and meet the income threshold of more than $100 million per year are required to submit a report on their payment terms and practices twice a year. The reporting framework will benefit small business suppliers in regional communities that operate in supply chains with large businesses.

This measure builds on the 2018-19 MYEFO measure titled Small Business Package — finance and cash flow.

Payment Times Procurement Connected Policy

The Australian Government will provide $4.6 million over four years from 2020-21, and ongoing annual funding of $1.3 million from 2024-25, to develop, implement and evaluate the Payment Times Procurement Connected Policy (PT PCP). The PT PCP will improve payment times from large to small businesses by requiring businesses with an annual turnover of at least $100 million that are awarded government contracts to pay their subcontractors within 20 days. The policy will complement the Government Supplier Pay on Time or Pay Interest Policy and the Payment Times Reporting Scheme. The PT PCP will benefit small businesses in regional areas that operate in supply chains of the large businesses within the policy scope.

Small Business Support Programs – extension

In the 2019-20 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, the Australian Government provided $5.7 million over two years from 2019-20 to continue the Finance and Cash Flow program, the Making it Easier for Business program and the Small Business Digital Champions program.

The Finance and Cash Flow program developed the Payment Times Reporting Scheme.

The Making it Easier for Business program expanded the ‘Ahead for Business’ trial sites, and provided digital communication enhancements. The national expansion of this program incorporated mental health initiatives to support small business owners, including regionally based small businesses to prioritise their mental health and wellbeing. The Ahead for Business Digital Hub was re-launched on 27 August 2020.

The Small Business Digital Champions program provided small businesses, including some in regional Australia, with a digital transformation for their business. Their success stories are being showcased among the small business community to inspire others to improve their digital potential. The project showcases how diverse small businesses are in Australia and how embracing digital technology can help improve any type of business.

As part of the project, 15 industry associations are promoting the benefits of ‘going digital’ and providing free, sector-specific digital advisory services to their small business members, including businesses located in regional areas. This advice will continue until April 2021 and ranges from technology trends, adoption, hardware, software, cyber security, digital training, planning and support.

COVID-19 Response Package – support for small businesses impacted by COVID-19

On 23 March 2020, the Australian Government announced it would provide $6.9 million over two years from 2019-20 to increase the operations at the business.gov.au Contact Centre to provide extended hours of support to small and medium businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The business.gov.au Contact Centre is helping businesses in regional Australia access the support they need to deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and stimulate economic growth in their regions.

In addition, the Australian Government announced a grant of $5 million over two years from 2019-20 to the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia to lead a national campaign to encourage Australians to purchase products and services from their local small business, including in regional areas. Supporting the small business sector in regional areas to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to positive impacts in these communities.

New Deregulation Agenda for Small Business

As part of the New Deregulation Agenda, the Australian Government provided the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources $8 million over two years in the 2019-20 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook to fund the Employing Your First Person Taskforce.

The Taskforce was established to make it easier for sole traders and micro businesses, including those in regional areas, to become first-time employers by helping them understand their responsibilities and provide them with confidence that they have met their employment obligations. As a first step, a consolidated online checklist was delivered in mid-2020.