Highlights from the 2020-2021 Budget

7 October, 2020


Funding will flow directly to support stronger, more resilient regions through the following initiatives:

  • An additional $200 million to extend the successful Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) for a fifth round, including:
  • $100 million available across regional Australia for community priorities
  • $100 million dedicated for tourism infrastructure  in regions significantly affected by the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism industry.
  • $100 million to fund Regional Recovery Partnerships, which will coordinate investments in ten identified priority regions with other levels of government to support recovery and growth.
  • $41 million for a Research and Development Program to continue the Government’s regional decentralisation agenda, by funding research and development activities that will benefit regional industries.
  • An additional $30.3 million for the Regional Connectivity Program to support telecommunications projects developed by local communities and providers to benefit regions. This will boost overall funding to $83 million, to support faster internet speeds outside the National Broadband Network fixed-line footprint.
  • An additional $28.1 million to extend the Stronger Communities Program, which provides grants of between $2,500 and $20,000 across the country to community organisations and local governments for small capital projects that deliver social benefits for local communities.
  • $5.7 million in a new Building Stronger, Resilient Regional Leaders initiative
  • $5 million for the Regional Australia Institute’s research program and promotion of regional living.



The Government is building on its existing investment in water infrastructure projects with an additional $2 billion in funding for new projects through the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund. This more than doubles the funding to a total of $3.5 billion and will deliver increased water security, build resilience in our regions, deliver jobs and grow the countries critical agriculture sectors.

This additional commitment will help identify and build the dams, weirs, pipelines, water recycling plants and other projects that will deliver the National Water Grid – a series of region-specific systems that will help secure reliable supplies of water for rural and regional Australia now and into the future.



Following the sudden and drastic capacity cuts by airlines in the initial response to COVID-19, the Australian Government moved quickly to re-establish minimum levels of aviation connectivity. This connectivity has allowed repatriated Australians to get to their homes and ensured critical workers, health supplies and freight continue to move to support the health pandemic needs across the country.

Measures funded include:

  • $165 million Domestic Aviation Network Support Program
  • $198 million over two years from 2019-20 for the  Regional Airline Network Support Program
  • $100 million Regional Airlines Funding Assistance Program
  • $66 million in 2020-21 for the Regional Airports Screening Infrastructure Program.



The Government’s $110 billion transport infrastructure program will support local jobs and businesses at the time it is needed most. These investments will deliver the Government’s economic plan for a stronger more resilient Australia, meeting the national freight challenge and getting Australians home sooner and safer.

Funding is being delivered to critical transport infrastructure projects in every state and territory, including:

  • an additional $490.6 million for the Coffs Harbour Bypass in New South Wales
  • $528 million for upgrades to the Shepparton and Warrnambool rail lines in Victoria
  • $750 million for Stage 1 of the Coomera Connector in Queensland
  • an additional $80 million for the Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network in Western Australia
  • $136 million to progress the Main South Road Duplication in South Australia
  • $65 million for the Tasman Bridge Upgrade in Tasmania
  • $46.6 million for National Network Highway Upgrades in the Northern Territory
  • $87.5 million for the Molonglo River Bridge in the Australian Capital Territory.


Other Initiatives

  • $2 billion towards road safety initiatives, continuing efforts to reduce road trauma in Australia. This investment will deliver an estimated 3,000 kilometres of lifesaving road improvements and support around 9,000 jobs across the country. This additional investment builds on the $500 million we are already delivering for Targeted Road Safety Works.
  • An additional $1 billion over two years for local governments for the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program which builds on the initial $500 million announced in May 2020.



The Morrison Government is strengthening the economy, creating jobs and supporting households and businesses through COVID-19 by investing in our critically important telecommunications, media and creative arts sectors as part of our Economic Recovery Plan for Australia.

With more Australians than ever working, learning and socialising on the internet, the Government is also investing additional resources in the eSafety Commissioner to better protect and support Australians online. The key measures for the communications, cyber safety and arts portfolio include:

  • $4.5 billion for NBN Co to bring ultra-fast broadband to millions of families and businesses
  • $37.1 million Strengthening Telecommunications Against Natural Disasters Package to prevent, mitigate and manage telecommunications outages during emergencies.
  • $1.8 million in grant funding for Wireless Internet Service Providers to improve connectivity in the Western Australian Grainbelt.



  • $61 million over four years from 2020-21 to proactively manage imminent emergency situations on Norfolk Island and Jervis Bay Territories.
  • $28.9 million over three years from 2020-21 to manage the risks of stormwater, flooding, landslide and rockfall on Christmas Island.
  • $3.2 million in 2020-21 to ensure continued delivery of essential services on Norfolk Island



Busting Congestion for Agricultural Exporters

The Australian Government is providing $328.4 million over four years from 2020-21 to reform export systems and regulation and contribute to the goal of $100 billion in farmgate production by 2030. The suite of reforms is aimed to accelerate trade growth as agriculture recovers from drought, bushfires and COVID-19. The package includes:

  • $222.2 million for Digital Services to Take Farmers to Markets, which will modernise Australia’s agricultural export system
  • $14.3 million for improving regulation including Targeted Interventions for Seafood and Live Animal Exporters
  • $10.9 million for Building a More Competitive Export Meat Industry to  reform the export meat regulatory system
  • $10 million for Harmonised and Streamlined Plant Export Regulation to simplify processes to support plant production exports


Bureau of Meteorology – Improved Security and Resilience

Funding of $254.6 million will be provided over four years from 2020-21 to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the Bureau of Meteorology.


Murray-Darling Basin Communities investment Package

Funding of $269.6 million over four years from 2020-21, and $9.8 million per year ongoing from 2024-25 will be provided for a package of measures to achieve a sustainable and certain future for the Murray-Darling Basin, its people, industries and environment. Some initiatives included in the package are:

  • $37.6 million over two years from 2020-21 to extend the Murray-Darling Basin Economic Development Program
  • $37.6 million over two years from 2020-21 to work with the South Australian Government to deliver projects that will sustain Riverland environments
  • $24.5 million over two years from 2020-21 to fund community-driven grants for on-ground projects that will improve the health of rivers and wetlands.


Other initiatives

  • $190 million over four years from 2020-21 to a new Recycling Modernisation Fund.
  • An additional $2 billion in loan funding to the Regional Investment Corporation in July 2020 for the 2020-21 financial year to double the farm and small business loan funds.
  • $233.4 million over three years from 2020-21 for Australia’s Commonwealth National Parks including, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Kakadu National Park, Booderee National Park, Christmas Island National Park.



Defence Economic Stimulus Package

On 26 August 2020, the Australian Government announced a $1 billion investment package to boost Australia’s defence industry and support jobs across Australia. Included in this package is:

  • $300 million for a national estate works program that will help support the construction industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on regional areas
  • $190 million to bring forward investment in approved infrastructure projects in the Northern Territory.


New Facilities and Infrastructure Projects delivered in Regional areas in 2020-21 package incorporating:

  • $293.6 million for AIR555 Airborne Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance Warfare Capability Facilities Works in South Australia, Darwin, Townsville and Cocos Islands.



Higher Education Reform

Funding to support increased higher education access and attainment for regional Australians and to support higher education providers in regional Australia grow their local economies including:

  • $21 million over four years from 2020-21 (and $79.4 million over 10 years to 2030-31) to strengthen the Regional University Centres program by establishing a central support network, evaluation program and additional centres throughout regional Australia.
  • $48.8 million over four years from 2020-21 (and $195.4 million by 2030-31) to establish new partnerships between regional universities and other higher education providers or local industry to undertake innovation research projects.


Supporting Apprentices and Trainees

  • The $1.2 billion Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy is a 50 per cent wage subsidy to all businesses who take on new apprentices from 5 October 2020 and will support 100,000 new apprentices and is available until 30 September 2021.
  • $2.8 billion Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy to help businesses keep apprentices and trainees employed.


Other Initiatives

  • $62.8 million to 30 June 2022, for the Local Jobs Program which will be rolled out in 25 regions across Australia, including regional areas.
  • $30 million over three years from 2020-21 to the new School of Mines and Manufacturing at Central Queensland University with construction expected to create more than 300 jobs in the Gladstone and Rockhampton regions.



Measures under the $1 billion Relief and Recovery Fund

  • $50 million over two years from 2020-21 through the Recovery for Regional Tourism package to assist Australian regions that are most reliant on international visitors.
  • $317 million to extend the International Freight Assistance Mechanism until 30 June 2021. This is in addition to over $350 million already invested since 1 April 2020.


Tourism Australia Funding

In 2020-21 the Australian Government will deliver funding of $191.9 million to Tourism Australia. An additional $39.7 million has been authorised, bringing Tourism Australia’s total available funding to $231.6 million. Of this funding, $29.5 million has been specifically allocated to support those regions both directly and indirectly impacted by last summer’s bushfires.



New Initiatives

  • $50.3 million over four years from 2020-21 on the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program to build the rural training pipeline for allied health students and graduates to deliver health, aged care and disability services in rural communities.
  • $125 million from 2020-21 to 2024-25 for the Rural, Regional and Remote Clinical Trial Enabling, Infrastructure Program to improve the health of Australians in rural, remote and regional areas through access to innovative clinical trials.



Migration and Humanitarian Programs 2020-21

The Migration Program will benefit regional communities through focussing on job-creating migrants and those who fill critical needs and contribute to economic recovery. The planning ceiling of 160,000 places will be retained in 2020-21 with increased flexibility to shift skilled places to adapt to changing labour market and economic needs and will continue to include both regional components and state and territory nominated positions, which are frequently located in regional areas.



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. New initiatives in the 2020-21 budget include:

  • $1.3 billion over four years from 2020-21 to establish the Modern Manufacturing Imitative
  • $107.2 million over four years from 2020-21 for the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative
  • $52.8 million over three years from 2020-21 for the expansion of the Manufacturing Modernisation Fund


Other New Initiatives

  • $124.5 million over four years from 2020-21 to continue and expand the Exploring for the Future program (Exploring for the Future 2)
  • $15 million in 2020-21 to Ferretti International to upgrade the steel processing and galvanising plant in Whyalla
  • $35.9 million over five years from 2020-21 for the expansion of the Boosting Female Founders Initiative
  • $200 million for Implementing Australia’s Fuel Storage Program which will be a competitive grant program to help industry to transition to holding higher diesel stock levels.
  • $74.5 million for the Future Fuels Package with one of the measures enabling businesses to integrate new vehicle technologies using electricity, hydrogen or biofuels into their fleets.
  • $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.
  • $50 million for the Carbon Capture, Use and Storage (CCUS) Development Fund. Deployment of CCUS has the potential to create not only jobs for regional Australian but also support innovative business opportunities in regional areas.
  • To support the Western Australia State Deal, $13.5 million will fund a WA-based microgrid program for remote communities, supporting the WA Government to extend an existing program to deliver solutions across remote Aboriginal communities and regional towns.
  • $53.6 million over six years from 2020-21 to extend the Regional and Remote communities Reliability Fund to support pilot studies for microgrids in regional and remote areas.



New Initiatives

  • $100 million one-off payment to the Queensland Government in 2020-21 for remote Indigenous housing in QLD. The funds will go to 17 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Councils and is in addition to the $5 million provided in 2019-20.
  • $150 million over three years from 2020-21 to Indigenous Business Australia for Regional Construction Stimulus towards new construction home loans in regional Australia.



New Initiatives

  • $150 million for the Domestic Violence Support Package which was announced on 29 March 2020.
  • $256.6 million over two years from 2020-21 to deliver the expansion of Digital Identity which is a single secure, trusted and consistent way to verify identity online, through the digital equivalent of a 100-point ID check.
  • $16.3 million over two years from 2020-21 to create temporary incentives in the income support system to encourage recent school leavers to undertake seasonal horticultural work and help address the expected critical workforce shortages across the industry for the upcoming harvest season.

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