Federal Budget 2018-19: Summary for Local Government

BY PETER JEFFERY, GRANT GURU

2018 FEDERAL BUDGET: ALL ABOUT TAXATION, MINIMAL IMPACT ON GRANTS

Treasurer Scott Morrison recently handed down his third Federal budget. Tax measures featured heavily in the budget with taxpayers receiving windfalls in the form of tax rate cuts. Protecting the integrity of the tax system was also heavily featured. This article provides a high-level snapshot of some key funding impacts for Councils and also businesses that might operate in your Local Government Area.

INFRASTRUCTURE, REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND CITIES

Regional Councils will benefit from key infrastructure programs, such as:

  • $206.5M for round 3 of the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) to support construction of community infrastructure.
  • $2.3M for the Regional Jobs and Investment Package for Regional Tasmania to support projects that diversify the regional economy, stimulate economic growth and deliver sustainable employment in the region.

The Government will also provide $25.9M for the Stronger Communities programme which provides funding of between $2,500 and $20,000 for small capital projects that deliver social benefits for local
communities.

IMPACT TO INDUSTRY

From a grants and funding perspective, the Government’s main support for Industry research and development, The R&D Tax Incentive, has proposed changes. These will need to be legislated before they become operational in the 2018-19 financial year. For larger companies, this involves a proposed overhaul of the level of benefit companies receive based on a sliding scale that rewards increased R&D expenditure as a portion of overall expenditure.

The Export Market Develop Grants remains unchanged, despite calls for additional funding. Other Grant programs also remain unchanged, with a number receiving top up funding.

IN CONCLUSION

This budget, by many accounts, has been quite restrained. The focus has been primarily about the income tax cuts and the overhaul of the personal taxation system. There have been some changes to the R&D Tax Incentive which might penalise larger companies, and extension of many infrastructure grants that could benefit Councils, however grants that impact businesses remain somewhat unchanged. Please find more detail below.

Please contact us if you or your colleagues have further questions about how to identify and secure funding for your priority projects, or would like to know more about the services we provide to help
your municipality prosper.

INFRASTRUCTURE, REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND CITIES PORTFOLIO

The Government will invest $518.9 million fro uncommitted funding in the Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities portfolio, towards:

  • Building Better Regions Fund — round three;
  • Stronger Communities Programme — round four;
  • Remote Airstrip Upgrade Programme — extension;
  • Western Sydney City Deal and a Western Sydney Airport Visitor and Information Centre;
  • Launceston City Deal — Tamar River;
  • Regional Australia Institute;
  • Myalup-Wellington project;
  • Indian Ocean Territories — essential infrastructure and air services;
  • Management of Drones;
  • Aviation, Air Cargo and International Mail Security Package; and
  • other policy priorities.

BUILDING BETTER REGIONS FUND — ROUND THREE

The Government will provide $206.5 million over four years from 2018-19 for round three of the Building Better Regions Fund, to support investment in community infrastructure and capacity building
projects in regional areas.

This includes $45.0 million to improve tourism-related infrastructure, supporting demand driven projects that ensure the benefits of Government investment can be multiplied across the tourism sector in the regions.

This investment increases the funding available to the Building Better Regions Fund to $641.6 million.

MORE CHOICES FOR A LONGER LIFE — JOBS AND SKILLS FOR MATURE AGE AUSTRALIANS

The Government will provide $189.7 million over five years from 2017-18 to support mature age Australians to adapt to the transitioning economy and develop the skills needed to remain in work. The
funding includes:

  • $136.4 million over four years from 2018-19 for targeted training to help mature age job seekers aged 45 years and over and who are registered with a jobactive provider to enhance employability, develop digital skills and identify opportunities in local labour markets;
  • $19.3 million over three years from 2018-19 for training funding of up to $2,000 for workers aged 45 to 70 years to take up reskilling or upskilling opportunities, with the Government
    contribution to be matched by either the worker or their current employer;
  • $15.2 million over three years from 2018- 19 to support mature age workers who are considering early retirement or who are retrenched to look at alternatives to remain in employment;
  • $17.7 million over four years from 2018-19 for additional Inclusive Entrepreneurship Facilitators for an increased focus on mature age people to promote entrepreneurship and
    new business opportunities and to provide business mentoring; and
  • $1.1 million in 2018-19 to restructure the Employment Fund to allow additional wage subsidy places for mature age employees.

MORE CHOICES FOR A LONGER LIFE — HEALTHY AGEING AND HIGH-QUALITY CARE

  • the Government will provide capital grants funding of $40.0 million over four years from 2019-20 for aged care facilities in regional, rural and remote Australia;
  • the Government will provide funding of $14.8 million over two years from 2018-19 to support preparatory work for a new national assessment framework for people seeking aged care;

TRANSITION TO WORK — ADDITIONAL PLACES

The Government is investing an additional $89.0 million over four years from 2018-19 to the Transition to Work program. This will deliver over 40,000 places to provide intensive and tailored preemployment support to participants aged 15-21 who are at risk of long-term unemployment.

REGIONAL EMPLOYMENT TRIALS PROGRAM — ESTABLISHMENT

The Government will provide $18.4 million over three years from 2018-19 (including $0.3 million in capital funding in 2018-19) to trial localised approaches to delivering employment services
in 10 selected disadvantaged regions. The trial will commence on 1 October 2018 and will fund Employment Facilitators to work with Regional Development Australia (RDA) Committees. Grants of up to $1.0 million will be available to each region to support employment-related projects that invest in local communities and job seekers.

SAFER COMMUNITIES FUND — EXTENSION

The Government will provide $30.0 million over two years to extend the Safer Communities Fund (SCF). The SCF provides grant funding to local government and community organisations to fund crime prevention initiatives, including closed-circuit television, lights and bollards.

STRONGER COMMUNITIES PROGRAMME — ROUND FOUR

The Government will provide $25.9 million over two years from 2018-19 for round four of the Stronger Communities Programme. The Stronger Communities Programme provides funding of between $2,500 and $20,000 for small capital projects that deliver social benefits for local communities across Australia.

REGIONAL JOBS AND INVESTMENT PACKAGE — FUNDING FOR TASMANIA

The Government will provide an additional $2.3 million in 2018-19 to the Regional Jobs and Investment Package for Regional Tasmania. The cost of the measure will be met by redirecting funding from the Tasmanian Jobs and Investment Fund.

AUSTRALIAN HERITAGE GRANTS PROGRAM — ESTABLISHMENT

The Government will provide $23.1 million over four years from 2018-19, and $5.7 million annually from 2022-23, to establish a flagship Australian Heritage Grants Program (AHGP). The AHGP will provide grant funding to protect and promote places in Australia with Commonwealth, National or World Heritage values.

REMOTE AIRSTRIP UPGRADE PROGRAMME — EXTENSION

The Government will provide $28.3 million over four years from 2018-19 to provide a further three funding rounds for the Remote Airstrip Upgrade component of the Regional Aviation Access Programme.
The funding will deliver better access and safety upgrades for remote community airstrips. Remote airstrip upgrades ensure continued access to essential, potentially lifesaving, health care as well as fresh food, mail services and access to employment and education opportunities.

DEFENCE EXPORT STRATEGY

The Government will provide $80.0 million over four years from 2018-19 ($20.0 million ongoing) to support the Australian defence industry, including:

  • an additional $4.1 million per year on an ongoing basis to expand the Centre for Defence Industry Capability’s grant programs and help build the capability of the Australian defence
    industry’s small-to-medium enterprises to compete internationally;

DEFENCE INDUSTRIAL CAPABILITY PLAN — ESTABLISHMENT OF THE SOVEREIGN INDUSTRIAL CAPABILITY GRANT PROGRAM

The Government will provide $68.0 million over four years from 2018-19 ($17.0 million ongoing) for a dedicated annual grant program to support the development, maintenance and enhancement
of the capability of the Australian defence industry. Funding will be provided to eligible small-to-medium enterprises that contribute to one or more of the Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities.