Significant changes were announced in the budget for industry programmes – all with a focus on improving the capability of small and medium sized enterprises.
Industry sectors that are emerging as government priorities include agriculture, child care, civil construction and infrastructure, defence, exploration, health and medical research, rail, road and small business.
Other areas of investment and exploration include contestability, emission reduction, export, international tourism focused on China, rural and regional development (Northern Australia and Tasmania), the manufacturing sector transition, diversification and reinvention.
New workforce initiatives that the Federal Budget 2014 offers, have to be considered in light of the consolidation of numerous programs and cutting of many existing funds.
Kept (redirected or boosted)
- Rural Research and Development Corporation – additional $100 million for projects on cutting edge technologies and applied research
- Support to Drought Affected Farmers – $320 million package
- Child Care: Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance – additional $35.3 million over the next 2 years & $19 million in 2017-18. This initiative includes redirection of funds from savings, reductions, efficiencies and suspensions in other areas such as professional development of staff in Budget Based Funded child care services.
- Investing in Research Excellence – mid-career Future Fellowships scheme – $`39.5 million for Australian researchers with up to 100 four-year fellowships.
- General Practice Rural Incentives Programme – additional $35.4 million over 2 years for relocation and retention incentive payments
- Boosting GP training places from 1200 to 1500 places in 2015
- Australia-China Science and Research Fund – $10 million supporting collaboration between Australian and Chines researchers
- Infrastructure Growth Package – further $3.7 billion over 5 years for new investments to support economic growth and employment
- National Stronger Regions Fund – $1 billion over 5 years for construction, expansion and enhancement of infrastructure across Australia
- Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman – $8 million to …transform the existing Office of the Australian Small Business Commissioner into a Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman with additional functions and powers
Deleted (savings or not proceeding)
- Australian Interactive Games Fund – $10 million and ceased from 1 July 2014
- Tourism Industry Regional Development Fund and the T-QUAL Accreditation scheme with $0.6 million to transfer the scheme to an industry provider
The Government will also achieve savings of $845.6 million over five years by ceasing the following programmes from 1 January 2015:
– Australian Industry Participation;
– Commercialisation Australia;
– Enterprise Solutions;
– Innovation Investment Fund;
– Industry Innovation Councils;
– Enterprise Connect;
– Industry Innovation Precincts; and
– Textile, Clothing and Footwear Small Business and Building Innovative Capability.
The Government will achieve further savings of $124.7 million over five years by reducing funding for the Clean Technology (Investment and Innovation) programmes and Cooperative Research Centres.
Reduced (savings or transferred)
- Research Training Scheme from 1 January 2016 with providers to introduce student contributions for those undertaking higher degrees by research – $173.7 million
- Agriculture Advancing Australia – International Agricultural Cooperation – $1.8 million over three years with $0.3 million per annum still available
- Arts programmes – $87.1 million of uncommitted funds
- Automotive Assistance – termination of the Automotive Transformation Scheme on 1 January 2018 – $618.5 million over 8 years. Funding of approximately $1.0 billion over five years from 2013-14 will remain available under the Automotive Transformation Scheme to support vehicle manufacturers and supply chain companies.
- Health Discretionary Grant Programmes – $4.4 million savings by not proceeding with 4 grant programmes in food safety, eHealth, support services for criminalized women and mental health better access to education and training.
- Textile, Clothing and Footwear Structural Adjustment Programme – $1.5 million savings by capping employment assistance
- Competitive Agriculture Sector – support for small exporters $15 million to improve market access
- Emission Reduction Fund – $2.55 billion from 1 July 2014. The Fund will provide an incentive based approach to support abatement activities across the economy to contribute to Australia meeting its target of reducing emissions to 5 per cent below year 2000 levels by the year 2020.
- Infrastructure Growth Package – Asset Recycling Fund established on 1 July 2014.
- Medical Research Future Fund – $1 billion and established on 1 January 2015.
- Smaller Government – Contestability Framework to assess whether a government function should be open to competition.
- International Tourism – Australia Week in China ($2 million over 2 years), China Approved Destination Status Scheme ($10.1 million to continue) and Demand Driven Infrastructure ($43.1 million to encourage international and domestic tourism)
- Improving small business access to Commonwealth contracts – $2.8 million to assist accessing the Commonwealth procurement market.
- Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme – $484.2 million over five years with a new approach to industry policy. The programme will focus on supporting the commercialisation of good ideas, job creation and lifting the capability of small business, the provision of market and industry information, and the facilitation of access to business management advice and skills from experienced private sector providers and researchers.
- Manufacturing Transition Grants – $50 million over 3 years to assist manufacturers to transition to higher value or niche activities
- Community Business Partnerships – $6 million to re-establish the partnership to advise the Government on philanthropy in Australia
- Exploration Development Incentive – $100 million over 3 years to encourage mining exploration
All of these initiatives are aimed at boosting productivity, growth and sustainability with workforce and industry engagement will be key.