Working with our Pacific Neighbours
Australia’s relationship in the Pacific has come into sharp focus of late. The Budget implements a series of initiatives to support development and labour mobility in the region:
- Additional infrastructure investment of $500m over 10 years in the Pacific and Timor-Leste will be provided through the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific including an additional $50m for the establishment of a Pacific Climate Infrastructure Financing Partnership Facility.
- As previously announced, the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme will be expanded to improve the benefits of the program for employers and workers including:
- underwriting employers’ investment in upfront travel costs for seasonal workers by covering costs that cannot be recouped from workers
- improvements to workplace standards for PALM visa holders, including increased workplace compliance activities
- allowing primary visa holders on long-term placements to bring partners and children to Australia, where sponsored by employers, with additional social support including providing relevant minimum family assistance payments, with an initial rollout of 200 families
- the expansion of the existing aged care skills pilot programs for aged care workers.
- A new Pacific Engagement Visa for nationals of Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste. Up to 3,000 additional places will be made available in addition to those provided through the existing permanent Migration Program.
Electric vehicle and hydrogen refuelling
As part of its Driving the Nation Fund, the Government will commit:
- $146.1m over 5 years from 2023-24 for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to co-invest in projects to reduce emissions from Australia’s road transport sector
- $89.5m over 6 years from 2022-23 for the Hydrogen Highways initiative to fund the creation of hydrogen refuelling stations on Australia’s busiest freight routes, in partnership with states and territories, including $5.5m to LINE Hydrogen Pty Ltd for its George Town green hydrogen heavy transport project
- $39.8m over 5 years from 2022-23 to establish a National Electric Vehicle Charging Network to deliver 117 fast charging stations on highways across Australia, in partnership with the NRMA.
Broadband & mobile improvements for regional Australia
Almost $758m will be spent improving mobile and broadband connectivity in rural and regional Australia.
Foreign investment review board fees increase
The Government has increased foreign investment fees and will increase financial penalties for breaches that relate to residential land. Fees doubled on 29 July 2022 for all applications made under the foreign investment framework. The maximum financial penalties that can be applied for breaches in relation to residential land will also double on 1 January 2023.
Community sector organisations funding boost
An additional $560m over 4 years will be provided to community sector organisations ($140m pa). 46% of the funding will come from the Department of Social Services and around 34% to the National Indigenous Australians Agency.
Extension of Tariffs on Russian goods
The Government has extended the temporary additional tariff on goods imported from Russia and Belarus until 24 October 2023. The additional 35% tariff applies to goods that are the produce or manufacture of Russia and Belarus shipped to Australia on or after 25 April 2022.
Note that Ukrainian goods have previously been exempted from import duty for 12 months until 4 July 2022.
The Budget has reallocated infrastructure projects, “reprofiling” $6.5bn in funding for existing projects. An additional $8.1bn over the next 10 years has been earmarked for priority projects including:
- $85.9m for the Canberra Light Rail Stage 2A project
New South Wales
- $1.4bn including $500m for planning, corridor acquisition and early works for the Sydney to Newcastle High Speed Rail, $268.8m for the New England Highway – Muswellbrook Bypass and $110m for the Epping Bridge
- $550m including $350m to seal the Tanami Road and Central Arnhem Road
- $2.1bn including $866.4m for the Bruce Highway, $400.0m for the Inland Freight Route (Mungindi to Charters Towers) upgrades, $400.0m for Beef Corridors and $210.0m for the Kuranda Range Road upgrade
- $460m including $400m for the South Australian component of the Freight Highway Upgrade Program.
- $78m for projects in Tasmania, including $48.0 million for the Tasmanian Roads Package
- $2.6bn including $2.2bn for the Suburban Rail Loop East
- $634.8m including $400.0 million for the Alice Springs to Halls Creek Corridor upgrade and $125m for electric bus charging infrastructure in Perth
- $18m to establish the High Speed Rail Authority to plan, develop, coordinate, oversee and monitor the construction and operation of the high speed rail network.