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Australian Federal Budget 2022 – what it means for resources professionals

· 900 words, 4 min read

The 2022-23 Australian Federal Budget delivered by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg highlights the strong role the resources sector plays in the national economy, exports and job creation.

Below is a summary of the budget initiatives most relevant to the resources sector, including links to relevant Ministerial announcements so you can find out more information.

The Resources Portfolio

Critical minerals, access to export markets and support for junior explorers form the core of the Government’s funding commitments under the resources portfolio.

The Budget has allocated $200 million over five years for the Critical Minerals Accelerator Initiative to develop Australia’s critical minerals sector, especially by supporting early and mid-stage projects.

The Government has also committed $50.5 million over three years for a virtual National Critical Minerals Research and Development Centre which will build Australian capability in critical minerals processing and target technical bottlenecks in strategic supply chains. It has also committed $294.2 to resources, critical minerals and associated jobs and skills development through the $1.3 billion Modern Manufacturing Initiative.

The Government has also committed $100 million to extend the Junior Minerals Exploration Incentive (JMEI) to support our junior explorers to undertake vital greenfield mineral exploration across Australia. This brings total investment in the JMEI to $200 million.

An additional $20 million to deliver the Global Resources Strategy has also been announced to improve access to key export markets.

Further detail is included in the media statement from the Federal Minister for Resources.

The Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Portfolio

The Budget also includes an additional $1 billion for the Modern Manufacturing Strategy and $200 million in funding for Regional Accelerator Program to strengthen supply chain resilience and sovereign manufacturing capability.

An extra $53.9 million has been committed for round three of the Manufacturing Modernisation Fund to help small and medium manufacturing businesses, which will co-fund capital investments by manufacturers across the National Manufacturing Priority areas to adopt innovative technologies enabling them to scale up, grow and compete internationally.

An additional $4.7 million will support women to build a career in Australian manufacturing, contributing to a strong, diverse and skilled manufacturing workforce for the future.

You can read more in the Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction’s statement.

Women and STEM

Despite making up nearly half of the workforce in Australia, women account for only about 19 per cent of the resources sector workforce. The advancement of women in STEM roles through our sector is a key enabler of our industry’s ongoing success, and vital to supporting women’s economic participation and empowerment.

The Government has allocated $42.4 million to grow the pool of women in STEM by providing up to five hundred university scholarships, co-funded with industry.

To boost the number of women in trades, the Government is investing $38.6 million over 4 years from 2022 23. Women who commence in higher paying trade occupations on the Australian Apprenticeship Priority List will receive a range of career development services.

It has also allocated $3.9 million for the ‘Supporting Women’s Mid-Career Transition to the Tech Workforce’.

The Government’s Women’s Leadership and Development Program (WLDP) funds seventy-five project grants benefiting more than 50,000 women and girls to improve their workforce participation, leadership representation, economic security, and health and wellbeing. This includes projects designed to increase access and participation of women in traditionally male-dominated industries.
You can read more from the Minister for Women here.

Indigenous Australians and Heritage Protection

Collaborating with and engaging the expertise of Indigenous Australian landholders, custodians and communities is fundamental to the resources sector’s role in helping to realise the social and economic aspirations First Nations people.

The Budget includes significant commitments to strengthen the frameworks for preservation of cultural heritage and native title interests, including through a $37.5 million program to strengthen Prescribed Body Corporate governance and an $11 million investment in cultural heritage reform through a First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance.

The Government has also allocated $636.4 million to fund an estimated 2,000 additional ranger jobs in regional and remote Australia, providing long-term economic opportunities and environmental outcomes.

The Minister for Indigenous Australians outlines further details in his statement.

Skilled Workforce and Migration

The pandemic has exacerbated existing skills shortages within the resources sector, highlighting the importance of skilled migration in ensuring a reliable supply of skilled professionals for the industry.

The Budget includes a significant funding package designed to deliver a pipeline of skilled workers for the Australian economy.

Key programs include a $5.8 billion Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements, Completing Apprenticeship Commencements program, as well as a $2.4 billion Australian Apprentices Incentive System.

Further information is included in the statement from the Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business.

The Budget papers show that the Government’s Migration Program will focus on skilled migration, with a return to a pre-pandemic composition of two-thirds/one-third across the Skill and Family streams.

The Skill stream will increase to 109,900, more than 30,000 places above 2021-22 planning levels.

Within the Skill stream the categories of Employer Sponsored (30,000 places), Skilled Independent (16,652 places) and State & Territory Nominated (20,000 places) have all increased from 2021-22 planning levels.

You can read more from the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs.

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