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Australian Federal Budget 2021 – What does it mean for resources professionals?

· 900 words, 4 min read

The Australian Federal Budget delivered by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg for 2021-22 further revealed the strong role the resources sector plays in the national economy and the critical task of the industry, and the people who work in it, in underwriting Australia’s pandemic recovery.

The announcement of $20.1 million over two years from 2021-22 for a Global Resources Strategy will support the continuing contributions made by people working in resources to the economic and social prosperity of our communities.

Supporting the resources sector, mining excellence and best practice

AusIMM recognises that the future of our sector relies on the innovation, investment, technology and the continued professional and technical excellence of our resources professionals. With this, we commend the support provided through the Global Resources Strategy for:

  • diversifying Australia’s resources exports into key access markets
  • strengthening Australia’s position as the world’s supplier of choice for major commodities, including the critical minerals which play a fundamental role in the modern global economy
  • providing a greater international focus for our innovative mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector
  • sustaining employment and long-term career development for people working and pursuing careers in resources, reflecting the fundamental role of our professionals in driving Australia’s world-leading position both now and into the future.

AusIMM welcomes a further $100 million contribution to extending the Junior Minerals Exploration Incentive, which compliments the existing suite of support for greenfield exploration delivered through Geoscience Australia and other government agencies. The program enables junior exploration companies to generate tax credits for expenditure on greenfield exploration, improving the conditions necessary to stimulate activity in the sector and support a thriving future sector.

The Budget also commits a further $190 million for Northern Australia through the Our North, Our Future Investment Plan. The plan will capitalise on the substantial minerals endowment of Australia’s northern regions through a ‘Regions of Growth’ approach, with a Northern Australia Development Program helping businesses to scale up and access future opportunities.

With a range of measures to support the long-term economic contributions and employment opportunities generated by the resources sector, a continued focus on community and environmental sustainability is imperative. The 2021-22 Budget will help advance technical excellence and capability in mined land rehabilitation, with 11 years of funding locked in for the Rum Jungle Rehabilitation Project in the Northern Territory.

The Budget also includes $29.3 million over four years to ensure an effective and responsive regulatory framework for environmental protection and biodiversity. Focused on delivering policy reforms through the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act, funding will facilitate timely environmental assessments, comprehensive regional planning, Indigenous heritage protection and the establishment of a new Environmental Assurance Commissioner.

The Budget additionally provides up to $215.4 million over six years to improving energy affordability and reliability, which is vital in supporting the sustainability of Australian industry.

Investing in skills, education and training for a sustainable future sector

As the Trusted Voice for people in resources, AusIMM exist to champion the continuous professional development, technical excellence and leadership of our resources professionals. We see this commitment reflected in substantial investments in skills, education and training, including:

  • an additional $2.7 billion over four years to support business to take on new apprentices and trainees
  • extending the JobTrainer fund, with $506.3 million in funding to support training in areas of critical skills needs
  • support for professionals to upskill and reskill, with $53.6 million for short course delivery
  • funding for digital and technological skills development, with over $100 million invested in work-based digital cadetships, scholarships for emerging technology graduates, and investments in the cyber workforce as part of a Digital Economy Strategy.

A safe sector that provides opportunity for all

AusIMM’s commitment to promoting a safe and diverse workforce is supported by several funding initiatives in the 2021-22 Budget. With $2.3b allocated to mental health and suicide prevention, including $111.2m to be spent on expanding digital mental health services, resources professionals can look forward to improved access to necessary care no matter their location.

The Government has additionally provided $256.8 million over four years to increase labour market participation. Key amongst these measures is $213.5 million to expand the Local Jobs Program to support tailored approaches to reskilling, upskilling and providing long-term employment pathways focused on Australian regional communities.

The Government’s Women’s Budget Statement 2021-22, also released, provides further initiatives to enhance women’s economic security and workforce participation, recognising this significant area in our COVID-19 recovery plan as a nation. The Women’s Budget Statement provides a $3.4 billion investment towards supporting Australian women across the country to be safe from violence, economically secure, and healthy. The Statement includes measures that will support families in the resources sector, with $1.7b funding to increase childcare subsidies up to 95 per cent for those with two children in care.

AusIMM know from our Women in Mining Survey that women’s career progression from junior through to middle, senior and executive roles is a top priority for the resources sector. The Budget includes additional commitments to expand support for mid-career professionals who have been absent from work due to caring responsibilities as part of a Mid-Career Checkpoint Program. AusIMM sees significant potential for this program and other measures to support career progression for all professionals pursuing careers in the sector.

The $1.9b in the Budget also committed to the vaccine roll out will help secure the health of all resources professionals, who continued to work throughout the height of the pandemic.

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