Regional Australia takes centre stage in the Federal Budget

Bernard Mackinnon
30/03/2022

This year’s Federal Budget provides more than $21 billion to unlock opportunities in regional Australia with a range of projects announced across infrastructure and essential services.

The Regional Accelerator Program is providing $2 billion over five years. Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Barnaby Joyce, said, “Projects under this program will catalyse job creation, stimulate economic diversification and the creation of new industries and growth of existing industries in regional centres.”

Fuel excise will be cut by 50% for six months. The fuel excise cut “will halve the rate on petrol and diesel to 22.1 cents per litre from 30 March 2022,” the Federal Budget papers stated, “with the price faced by consumers expected to be reduced by a larger magnitude given GST will be levied on the lower excise rate.”

Land transport infrastructure will receive an additional $17.9 billion. This funding for new commitments in the regions will include:

  • Outback Way - linking Laverton in Western Australia with Winton in Queensland via Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, $678 million
  • Brisbane to Sunshine Coast rail extension, $1.6 billion
  • Sydney to Newcastle faster rail, $1 billion
  • Beveridge Interstate Freight Terminal in Victoria, $1.2 billion

Additional transport infrastructure funding for regional projects will include the Milton Ulladulla bypass with $352 million, Ballarat to Ouyen with $45 million, and Cooktown to Weipa with $68.5 million.

$7.1 billion will be provided for next generation energy hubs in four regions. Over 11 years, this investment will provide liquefied natural gas (LNG) and clean hydrogen in Darwin, low emissions manufacturing facilities in the Pilbara, making the Port of Newcastle “hydrogen ready”, and energy projects in Central and North Queensland.

Additional funding of $600 million will be provided for farming which also includes exports and biosecurity.

  • $267 million to go towards reducing the cost of exporting.
  • $80 million to re-establish export markets for pandemic-affected small and medium enterprises.
  • $61 million for enhancing biosecurity and management.

To further this, the sale of Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) will be treated as primary production income for tax averaging and for Farm Management Deposits, thus removing a tax detriment for ACCU sellers.

Regional telecommunications funding of $1.3 billion will include $480 million for NBN upgrades in regional areas, and $811 million “to expand mobile coverage and improve connectivity”, Minister for Regionalisation, Regional Communications and Regional Education, Bridget McKenzie, stated.

Tourism funding includes “$75.5 million in targeted support for travel agents and tour arrangement service providers,” and “$60 million over two years to accelerate international tourist arrivals,” according to Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Dan Tehan.

Funding for dams will be increased.

  • Queensland’s Hells Gate Dam, $5.4 billion
  • Paradise Dam, $600 million
  • Emu Swamp Dam, $126.5 million
  • Don Irrigation in Tasmania, $13 million
  • Dungowan Dam in NSW, $433 million
  • Darwin regional water infrastructure, $300 million

The $483 million committed to the proposed Urannah Dam in Queensland will be “subject to demonstration of value for money and sufficient public benefit for investment,” as stated by the Federal Budget papers.

Check out the full coverage from the Federal Budget 2022-23, which will continue to develop throughout the week as new insights and video content are published.