The 2023-24 Budget was handed down on 9 May 2023. It is the first full budget for the Albanese Government, following an interim budget in October 2022.
Headline items include the $4.2 billion surplus for the current financial year, which is due to commodity prices and increased tax receipts and is not projected to continue past this financial year; a small $40/fortnight increase in JobSeeker and Youth Allowance payments; tripling of the GP bulk billing fee for children, pensioners and other concession card holders; ending the ParentsNext scheme and extending the single parent payment until the youngest child is 14 years old; funding for nuclear submarine delivery and readiness; and a swathe of initiatives for the clean energy transition.
Energy and health programs – some called for by ATSE – represent a significant investment and demonstrate the Government’s priorities in these areas. Within science and innovation, there were some program announcements including an early-stage commercialisation research funding. There were no substantial announcements in ongoing funding for research and for higher education, with grants only increasing by indexation.
Details of announcements in portfolios of interest to ATSE are listed below.
Alignment with ATSE’s recommendations
Some budget measures match recommendations made by ATSE in recent submissions and reports. The clean energy initiatives are in strong alignment with the decarbonisation focus recommended in ATSE’s Pre-budget submission. Other budget items aligning with ATSE recommendations include:
- The $1 billion Household Energy Upgrades Fund will provide low-cost loans for improvements such as double glazing and solar panels. This fulfils ATSE’s recommendations to the National Energy Performance Strategy for upfront incentives for energy efficiency upgrades and a leasing program for solar panels.
- The $300m for energy upgrades to social housing implements ATSE’s recommendation to the National Energy Performance Strategy to develop a program to retrofit social housing with energy efficiency upgrades.
- The $2 billion Hydrogen Headstart funding to scale up the renewable hydrogen industry implements ATSE and the AAS’s recommendation to the Green Energy Superpower consultation to provide internationally competitive support to the industry.
- The $91.1 million Australian Centre of Disease Control aligns with ATSE and CSIRO’s recommendation in the Curbing Antimicrobial Resistance report on central coordination for antimicrobial resistance management.
- The $18.1 million for reforms to Australian Carbon Credit Units will address some of the issues raised in ATSE’s submission to the Independent Review of Australian Carbon Credit Units.
- The $1 billion boost to strengthening biosecurity is in alignments with ATSE’s submission to the National Biosecurity Strategy which advocated increasing preparedness by developing the workforce.
- The $20.9 million package for decarbonising transport includes development of Fuel Efficiency Standards, as recommended by ATSE’s submission on the National Electric Vehicle Strategy and infrastructure development as recommended by ATSE’s Pre-budget submission.
Summary of Budget announcements
Agricultural statistics and IT upgrades: The Government will provide $38.3 million over 4 years from 2023-24 (and $7.6 million per year ongoing) to support agricultural statistics, climate analysis and upgrades to data and information systems for the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences.
Strengthening biosecurity: The Government will provide an additional $1.0 billion over 4 years from 2023-24 (and $268.1 million per year ongoing) to meet its commitment to strengthen Australia’s biosecurity system. Funding includes:
- $845.0 million over 4 years from 2023-24 (and $255.3 million per year ongoing) to maintain biosecurity policy, operational and technical functions on a sustainable basis, including regulation, surveillance, domestic preparedness and response, and international engagement and capability development.
- $145.2 million over 3 years from 2023-24 to deliver modern digital systems in cargo pathways that are integrated with business systems, cut red tape and streamline regulation and service delivery for importers.
- $40.6 million over 4 years from 2023-24 (and $12.0 million per year ongoing) to continue the Indigenous Ranger Biosecurity Program to reduce biosecurity risks in northern Australia and provide social and economic benefits to First Nations, rural and remote communities.
The cost of the measure will be partially offset through introducing:
- Cost recovery arrangements for the clearance of low-value imported cargo, which is expected to raise $81.3 million over 3 years from 2024-25.
- A biosecurity protection levy on Australian producers of agricultural, forestry and fishery products from 1 of July 2024, set at a rate equivalent to 10 per cent of the 2020-21 industry-led agricultural levies, which is estimated to increase receipts by $153.0 million over 3 years from 2024-25.
The Government is investing $57.1m over 4 years to promote critical minerals projects and build resilient supply chains and $23.4m for critical mineral policy development.
The Government will provide $101.6 million over 5 years from 2022–23 (and $11.8 million per year ongoing) to support and uplift cyber security in Australia. Funding includes:
Cyber Security Coordinator: $46.5 million over 4 years from 2023–24 (and $11.8 million per year ongoing) to establish the Coordinator for Cyber Security to ensure that the Commonwealth’s cyber security efforts are strategic, coordinated, timely and effective. The Coordinator will be supported by the National Office of Cyber Security and dedicated resources from within the Department of Home Affairs and other Commonwealth entities, with capacity to surge further in the event of a cyber incident
Small business cyber wardens: $23.4 million over 3 years from 2023–24 to the Department of the Treasury for a small business cyber wardens program delivered by the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia, to support small businesses to build in-house capability to protect against cyber threats
Critical infrastructure: $19.5 million in 2023–24 to continue work to improve the security of critical infrastructure assets and assist owners and operators to respond to significant cyber attacks
Commonwealth entities: $12.2 million in 2023–24 to sustain cyber resilience of Commonwealth entities currently serviced by the Cyber Hubs pilot program and to continue assessment and certification of service providers used by the Commonwealth entities to host data.
The cost of this measure will be partially met from within the existing resources of the Department of Home Affairs and by redirecting funding provided to the Australian Taxation Office for Cyber Hub pilot activities
Accelerator: Funding to establish the Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator ($3.4 billion over 10 years from 2023–24) within the Department of Defence to lift capacity to translate disruptive new technologies into Defence capability rapidly, in close partnership with Australian industry.
Nuclear Powered Submarine Program:
- $128.5 million over 4 years from 2023–24 for 4,000 additional commencing Commonwealth supported places at universities and other higher education providers for courses that support the skills requirements of the nuclear-powered submarine program, including STEM and management disciplines. Of these places, at least 800 will be allocated to South Australian universities with the remainder to be allocated through a competitive process.
- $1.1 million over two years from 2023–24 for the Department of Education to support the development and delivery of education, skills and training initiatives for the nuclear-powered submarine program.
Business tax cuts: $314 million in tax cuts for businesses that “go green”. Small and medium-size businesses that invest in energy efficient equipment could be eligible for a tax deduction of up to $20,000.
Domestic Gas Prices: The Government has announced a $12/GJ price cap on domestic gas prices until July 1 2025.
Petroleum Resources Rent Tax: The Government has announced that it will make changes to the Petroleum Resources Rent Tax (PRRT). These changes will include limiting the proportion of PRRT assessable income that can be offset by deductions to 90% and bringing forward the date that liquefied natural gas projects are expected to pay PRRT. The changes will take effect from July 1 2023, and are expected to raise $2.4 billion.
National Greenhouse Accounts: The Government will provide additional funding of $21.8 million over 3 years from 2023–24 to maintain and enhance the capability of Australia’s National Greenhouse Accounts to deliver high-quality emissions data and track progress against Australia’s emissions reduction targets.
Support clean energy: $80.0 million over 4 years from 2023–24 (and $11.1 million per year ongoing) to support the supply of cheap, clean, and reliable energy across Australia.
Guarantee of Origin: $38.2 million over 4 years from 2023–24 (and $6.5 million per year ongoing) to establish a Guarantee of Origin Certificate scheme to track and verify emissions associated with hydrogen and other low emissions products and provide an enduring mechanism to certify renewable electricity.
Household Energy Upgrades: The Government will provide $1 billion in funding to establish the Household Energy Upgrades Fund to support home upgrades that improve energy performance and save energy.
Hydrogen: The Government will provide $2.0 billion to accelerate development of Australia’s hydrogen industry, catalyse clean energy industries, and help Australia connect to new global hydrogen supply chains. Funding includes:
- $2.0 billion for the establishment of a new Hydrogen Headstart program, which will provide revenue support for investment in renewable hydrogen production through competitive production contracts, including funding for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water to support the development and operation of the program.
- $5.6 million in 2023-24 to analyse the implications for Australia of intensifying global competition for clean energy industry, and to identify actions before the end of 2023 to further catalyse clean energy industries, ensure Australian manufacturing competitiveness and attract capital investment.
- 2.0 million over two years from 2024–25 to establish a fund to support First Nations communities to engage with hydrogen project proponents and planning processes.
Australian Carbon Credit Units: The Government will provide $18.1 million over two years from 2023–24 to implement priority reforms to the operation of the Australian Carbon Credit Unit (ACCU) scheme as part of the Government’s initial response to the Independent Review of Australian Carbon Credit Units.
National Climate Risk: The Government will provide $28.0 million over two years from 2023–24 to develop Australia’s first National Climate Risk Assessment and a National Adaptation Plan to understand the risks to Australia from climate change, invest in a plan to adapt to those risks, and commission an independent review of the Australian Climate Service
Industry Decarbonisation: The Government will allocate $1.3 billion over 5 years from 2022–23 from $1.9 billion provided in the 2022–23 October Budget to support the decarbonisation of existing industries, develop new clean energy industries and support sovereign manufacturing capacity essential to the energy transition.
Capacity Investment Scheme: The Government will establish the Capacity Investment Scheme to underwrite new investment in clean energy, accelerating the development of cheap, clean renewable generation and storage and ensuring the smooth transformation of Australia’s energy market.
Environment and water
Murray-Darling Basin: The Government will provide $148.6 million over 4 years from 2023–24 towards the sustainability of the Murray-Darling Basin.
Australian Institute of Marine Science: The Government will provide $163.4 million over 4 years from 2023–24 (and $43.5 million per year ongoing) to secure the future of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)
Nature Positive Plan: The Government will provide $214.1 million over four years to deliver on the Nature Positive Plan which includes the establishment of an Environment Protection Agency and Environment Information Australia to provide and environment evidence base.
CDC: $91.1 million over two years from 2023–24 to establish the Australian Centre for Disease Control. This builds on the October 2022 Budget which announced $3.2 million for the preparation of the CDC establishment.
ADHA: $325.7 million over 4 years from 2023–24 (and approximately $79.9 million per year ongoing), to establish the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) as an ongoing entity to deliver on the Government’s commitment to strengthen Medicare. This measure will also fund a review of the ADHA’s enabling legislation to ensure the agency remains fit for purpose. The establishment and ongoing funding represents a small increase from the October 2022 Budget, which set the total net resourcing for ADHA at $362 million.
Gene regulator: $3.2 million in 2023–24 (including $1.1 million in capital funding in 2023–24) to support legislative amendments to the National Gene Technology Scheme to ensure regulation is fit for purpose and supports the growth of the biotechnology sector.
ARPANSA: $69 million 2023-2024 estimate total resourcing for Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA). This is an increase from the $41 million budgeted in October 2022.
Healthcare training: $50.2 million over 4 years to establish the Primary Care and Midwifery Scholarships program, and $31.6 million over 2 years for training arrangements for international medical students working rural and remote locations.
Higher education programs: $18.7 million over four years to extend and expand existing higher education student support programs, comprised of $17.7 million over four years in additional funding for the Higher Education Disability Support Program and $1 million in 2023-24 to maintain the national Microcredentials Marketplace
Teacher education and support: $35 million over four years to attract more people to teaching and retain more teachers in the workforce. This is comprised of $25 million over four years to establish a Teacher Workforce Reduction Fund to pilot new ways to reduce teacher workloads, and $10 million over two years for a national campaign to raise the status of the teaching profession
Women in STEM: Extending the Women in STEM Cadetships and Advanced Apprenticeships program by two years to 2026-27.
Free TAFE: $400m to support an additional 300,00 fee-free TAFE and VET places.
NHMRC: $1.255 billion.
- The October 2022 Budget set total resourcing for the NHMRC at $1.234 billion.
- Discovery: $535.9 million (increased in line with inflation)
- Linkage: $357.7 million (increased in line with inflation but it is lower than last year because this year is not a Centre of Excellence year)
Block grants: $2.1 billion (increased in line with inflation)
Science and innovation
Industry Growth Program: The Government has allocated $392m to a new program which aims to support early-stage commercialisation in National Reconstruction Fund priority areas. This will be delivered through a grants program issuing $50k-$5m grants.
Critical technologies: The Government is allocating $101m for critical technologies industries. This includes establishing a Centre for Quantum Growth, a national AI centre and funding to support business uptake.
STEM programs: $9m for STEM programs including the PMs Prizes, National Science and Tech Council and Science Meets Parliament.
Space: The Government is allocating $34.2m, over 3 years, for the Australian Space Agency.
Nuclear waste: The Government is investing $476.4m over 7 years in the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency, to manage radioactive waste, and $44.5m over 3 years to support nuclear medicine during reactor maintenance at ANSTO.
National Measurement Institute: $51.2m has been allocated for equipment upgrades at the National Measurement Institute.
Women in STEM Ambassador: Funding for a Women in STEM ambassador will be extended for 2 more years.
Global science diplomacy: A $25m reduction in the global science and technology diplomacy fund.