The Federal Government has just announced its 2019-20 Budget, with a focus on ‘A plan for a stronger economy and securing a better future’.
After more than a decade of deficits, the budget is expected to return to surplus in 2019-20. The budget forecasts a surplus of $7.1 billion in 2019-20 – a $55.5 billion turnaround from the deficit seven years ago.
Below are aspects of the Budget that have relevance to Australia’s building and construction industry:
The company tax rate for small and medium-sized companies with an annual turnover of less than $50 million has been lowered to 27.5 per cent. This rate will be lowered further to 25 per cent by 2021-22.
The Government will also provide more than $1 billion to extend the operation of the ATO’s Tax Avoidance Taskforce, and to expand the Taskforce’s programs and market coverage.
The Government has committed to a world-class higher education system and will be investing $17.7 billion in the university sector in 2019.
The Government has announced a $3.4 million package over four years to support greater participation of girls and women in STEM. This includes funding to extend the Science in Australia Gender Equity initiative in higher education and research institutions and showcasing the benefits of STEM skills and careers to children, to encourage more participation in STEM. The Government also wants to reduce the barriers preventing young Australians from accessing science.
The 2019-20 Budget will deliver $15.1 million for Questacon – the National Science and Technology Centre in Canberra to expand its programs to promote science to the next generation of Australian scientists.
The Federal Government will also invest over $525 million to upgrade the vocational education and training (VET) sector. A National Skills Commission (NSC) will be established to drive long-term reform of VET.
To deliver up to 80,000 additional apprentices over five years to enter occupations currently experiencing skill shortages, the Government will introduce an Additional Identified Skills Shortage Payment.
The Federal Government states that they will provide $41.7 million over four years to pilot Skills Organisations across the country in the key areas of human services care and digital technologies including cybersecurity.
To ensure all Australians have the skills they need for work, the Government will provide $62.4 million to establish a national program to deliver foundational training in language, literacy, numeracy and digital skills.
Lastly, to tackle high youth unemployment in regional areas, $50.6 million will be invested to pilot 10 Training Hubs.
The Government will invest $100 billion over the next decade in transport infrastructure.
It will also invest in new road and rail projects, targeting congestion in the worst affected areas of the country.
The Government will provide $386 million to encourage more Australians to participate in sport, upgrade sporting infrastructure and support elite sport.
The Government is making an additional 13,500 residential care places available from 2018-19 — the largest number ever in a single funding round. In addition, the Government is providing $60 million for residential care infrastructure.
The Government will act to ensure population growth is sustainable through changes to the migration program and investments to reduce congestion in cities and accommodate growth in regions.
The Federal Government’s $2 billion Climate Solutions Package will be implemented to assist Australia meets its emissions target under the Paris Agreement.
The Government has given the green light to the Snowy 2.0 project by providing a $1.4 billion equity injection. The project will provide more affordable, reliable and sustainable power for up to 500,000 homes.
Partnering with the Tasmanian Government, the Australian Government is accelerating the Battery of the Nation and Marinus Link projects by providing $56 million for a new interconnector between Tasmania and Victoria.
This is expected to ‘unlock Tasmania’s hydro capacity’ and support more sustainable and reliable electricity for homes and businesses.
The Government will also support feasibility studies for micro-grids which would harness distributed generation to provide secure, reliable and affordable power to regional and remote communities.
It is important to remember that the Budget measures are only statements of proposed changes. With an election expected to occur in May 2019, it is likely that these proposals will only be implemented if the current Government is successfully re-elected.
*Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of all that was covered in the Budget.
More information on the 2019-20 Budget can be found here.