Skip to main content

Budget 2024-2025: Nation’s future to be made in regional Australia   

15 May 2024

Regional Australia is at the epicentre of the Federal Government’s Future Made in Australia ambitions, with plans to attract global investment in the development of home-grown critical minerals, low emission liquid fuels, and green hydrogen.  

Regional Australia Institute (RAI) CEO Liz Ritchie said last night’s Budget painted a picture of regional Australia’s new leading role in the nation’s future prosperity and sustainability and in Australia’s place as a world leader in renewable energy technologies.  

“The signature $1.7 billion Future Made in Australia Innovation Fund to develop new energy technologies is the key to injecting huge economic stimulus across regional Australia and to invigorate regions transitioning away from fossil fuel dependency,” Ms Ritchie said. 

“This hallmark policy is underpinned by a significant suite of skills packages which will be vital in our global race to transition to a net zero nation. We welcome the significant investment of over $200 million across the decade for the Energy Industry Jobs Plan, and the expansion of the New Energy Apprenticeship Programs and Regional Workforce Transition Plans. We look forward to learning more about the regional application of these programs. 

“Place-based, well-paid, sustainable jobs for regional Australians are a starting point for the social licence to operate these industries of the future. We want to see school leavers in Balranald, for example – those wanting to pursue a career in the burgeoning local critical minerals sector – able to study in nearby Mildura, not Sydney or Melbourne. The future must be made in regional Australia.” 

Ms Ritchie said the Government had correctly committed almost $21 million per annum for the next seven years to engage and empower communities affected by the energy transition regarding land access and planning approvals process. 

“However, community engagement must go deeper than this. Detail about how this process will be managed and how placed-based ideas will meet top-down funding is critical. It must involve commitments to address community pain points, and there is no bigger pain point right now than housing in our regions: specifically, ensuring new homes in the right regional locations providing greater rental availability and affordability,” Ms Ritchie said. 

“The consistent call from regions is that they need to see funding from the housing policy package that is targeted to and transparent for regional Australia, sadly it appears they are still left wanting. Without strategic settlement planning that invests in the key liveability aspects of regions, the number one being housing, the benefit of the industries enabled by the Future Made in Australia Fund, are at threat of not being realised. 

“The $1 billion in new investment for enabling infrastructure for state and local government to make new land development ready is welcomed. We continue to seek at least 40% of this investment quarantined for regional Australia. The current program’s design and application process will almost certainly exclude small regional communities, where the infrastructure funding gaps are largest. 

“The Government’s State of the Housing System 2024 report showed that in every state, bar Western Australia and South Australia, right up and down the eastern seaboard, rental affordability is worse in regional areas than in the respective capitals.  

“The effects of regional Australia’s housing shortage are cascading through to the most vulnerable in our regional communities, local renters in particular. It is in these communities where the need for social housing is greatest.” 

The RAI welcomes a range of Budget measures which speak directly to research by the RAI, including around the net zero transition in regional Australia, regional workforces, regional skills and regional childcare: 

  • An additional $9.5 million in 2024-25 for Jobs and Skills Australia to provide advice on current, emerging, and future workforce skills and training needs.  
  • $10.6 million over six years for the Australian Skills Guarantee, which will address apprenticeships, trainees, and paid cadets in thinner markets. 
  • $55.6 million over four years for the Building Women’s Careers Program, which is set to focus on the construction and clean energy sectors.  
  • $91.0 million over five years for increasing vocational education and training and apprenticeships in priority clean energy occupations. 
  • $90.6 million over three years for 20,000 fee-free training places to grow the skilled housing and construction workforce. 
  • $62.6 billion over four years in Child Care Subsidy payments to make Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) more affordable for more than 260,000 families in regional and remote Australia, as well the Government’s commitment towards funding a wage increase for ECEC workers.
  • More than $300 a week to assist with living away from home costs for nursing, teaching and social work students who are required to do practical placements. 

“The RAI’s 10-year plan for the regions is underpinned by data that shows a bigger regional Australia can help build a more prosperous nation. People are voting with their feet and choosing a life in the regions, but that economic and social wealth won’t occur unless it’s backed up by support from business, industry, the not-for-profit sector, communities and vitally, government,” Ms Ritchie said.

“We are disappointed that there remains no focus or funding for a National Population and Settlement Plan, which would offer analysis of high-growth scenarios – like regional Australia is currently experiencing – to enable better planning for industry growth, infrastructure, and service provision. Without this planning the nation’s ambitions to be an energy superpower will fall short.”

Ms Ritchie said the RAI looked forward to continuing to work with the Federal Government to advise on the implementation of initiatives funded in the Budget, across regional Australia. 

For media enquiries contact:

Regional Australia Institute 
Melinda Hayter
Ph: 0498 373 300
E: [email protected]