The 2017-18 Budget and supporting documents can be read in full here.
Foreign Investment Review Board
The Budget has changed the framework of the foreign investment review board. The reforms aim to reduce regulatory blocks to increase the fluidity of the foreign investment decisions. Methods include
Regional Investment Corporation
The independent Corporation will deliver $4 billion concessional loans through a farm business concessional loans and the National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility. The funding support intends to boost the economic growth in regional communities and the enhancement of agricultural productivity. The loans will be aimed at struggling farm businesses and provide efficient access to funding during times of environmental or economic crises. The Water Infrastructure Loan will assist state and territory governments to co-invest in vital water infrastructure. The Government has also released the Regional Australia – Driving Our Economy 2017-18 Report that identified commitments and programs initiated by each department to improve growth and sustainability in regional Australia.
The Federal Government announced a $20 billion funding package for commercial and passenger rail. $10 billion in funding will go to passenger rail projects, whilst $8.4 billion will be invested in the Melbourne to Brisbane inland freight rail system. Smaller funding schemes will go to specific projects across Australia in partnership with state-based development.
Northern Australia Infrastructure Funding
The Federal Government announced a $7 billion funding package for major infrastructure projects in Northern Australia. $5 billion will be issued as concessional loans from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to assist in the development and commercialisation of the north. Money was also allocated to the regional jobs package, beef road programme, water related projects and various other site specific projects. The Agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation Programme will continue to make grants available for projects to access international markets. Smaller exporters are provided for under the Package Assisting Small Exports $15 million grant scheme.
The recent Budget focused on energy security through ensuring accessible and consistent gas supply despite large export contracts limiting domestic market access. The Federal Government will invest $28.7 million in new East Coast gas development program to facilitate quicker access, extraction and delivery of onshore gas. A $15.3 million investment in the Digital Earth Australia program will use satellite imaging to monitor changes across the Australian landscape. The output information will monitor every 10 metres square of Australia, every five days to assist in the development of regional and agricultural growth.
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