2020 Federal Budget: Highlights for the Regions

The Federal Budget has been released and there is plenty to digest. Understanding where funding is being committed can help you make decisions and strategise. We have summarised the highlights for regional Australia.


  • An additional $200 million to extend the successful Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) for a fifth round, including:
  • $100 million available across regional Australia for community priorities
  • $100 million dedicated for tourism infrastructure in regions significantly affected by the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism industry.
  • An additional $30.3 million for the Regional Connectivity Program to support telecommunications projects developed by local communities and providers to benefit regions. This will boost overall funding to $83 million, to support faster internet speeds outside the National Broadband Network fixed-line footprint.
  • An additional $28.1 million to extend the Stronger Communities Program, which provides grants of between $2,500 and $20,000 across the country to community organisations and local governments for small capital projects that deliver social benefits for local communities.
  • $5.7 million in a new Building Stronger, Resilient Regional Leaders initiative


  • An additional $2 billion in funding for new projects through the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund to help identify and build the dams, weirs, pipelines, water recycling plants and other projects that will deliver the National Water Grid.


  • $198 million over two years from 2019-20 for the Regional Airline Network Support Program
  • $100 million Regional Airlines Funding Assistance Program
  • $66 million in 2020-21 for the Regional Airports Screening Infrastructure Program.


  • $2 billion towards road safety initiatives, continuing efforts to reduce road trauma in Australia. This investment will deliver an estimated 3,000 kilometres of lifesaving road improvements and support around 9,000 jobs across the country. This additional investment builds on the $500 million we are already delivering for Targeted Road Safety Works.
  • An additional $1 billion over two years for local governments for the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program which builds on the initial $500 million announced in May 2020.


  • $4.5 billion for NBN Co to bring ultra-fast broadband to millions of families and businesses
  • $37.1 million Strengthening Telecommunications Against Natural Disasters Package to prevent, mitigate and manage telecommunications outages during emergencies.


Busting Congestion for Agricultural Exporters

  • $222.2 million for Digital Services to Take Farmers to Markets, which will modernise Australia’s agricultural export system
  • $14.3 million for improving regulation including Targeted Interventions for Seafood and Live Animal Exporters
  • $10.9 million for Building a More Competitive Export Meat Industry to  reform the export meat regulatory system
  • $10 million for Harmonised and Streamlined Plant Export Regulation to simplify processes to support plant production exports

Murray-Darling Basin Communities Investment Package

  • $37.6 million over two years from 2020-21 to extend the Murray-Darling Basin Economic Development Program
  • $24.5 million over two years from 2020-21 to fund community-driven grants for on-ground projects that will improve the health of rivers and wetlands.

Other initiatives

  • $190 million over four years from 2020-21 to a new Recycling Modernisation Fund.
  • An additional $2 billion in loan funding to the Regional Investment Corporation in July 2020 for the 2020-21 financial year to double the farm and small business loan funds.


Higher Education Reform

  • $21 million over four years from 2020-21 (and $79.4 million over 10 years to 2030-31) to strengthen the Regional University Centres program by establishing a central support network, evaluation program and additional centres throughout regional Australia.

Supporting Apprentices and Trainees

  • The $1.2 billion Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy is a 50 per cent wage subsidy to all businesses who take on new apprentices from 5 October 2020 and will support 100,000 new apprentices and is available until 30 September 2021.
  • $2.8 billion Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy to help businesses keep apprentices and trainees employed.


Measures under the $1 billion Relief and Recovery Fund

  • $50 million over two years from 2020-21 through the Recovery for Regional Tourism package to assist Australian regions that are most reliant on international visitors.
  • $317 million to extend the International Freight Assistance Mechanism until 30 June 2021. This is in addition to over $350 million already invested since 1 April 2020.

Tourism Australia Funding

  • An additional $39.7 million bringing Tourism Australia’s total available funding to $231.6 million. Of this funding, $29.5 million has been specifically allocated to support those regions both directly and indirectly impacted by last summer’s bushfires.


New Initiatives

  • $50.3 million over four years from 2020-21 on the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program to build the rural training pipeline for allied health students and graduates to deliver health, aged care and disability services in rural communities.
  • $125 million from 2020-21 to 2024-25 for the Rural, Regional and Remote Clinical Trial Enabling, Infrastructure Program to improve the health of Australians in rural, remote and regional areas through access to innovative clinical trials.


Modern Manufacturing Strategy

  • $1.3 billion over four years from 2020-21 to establish the Modern Manufacturing Imitative
  • $107.2 million over four years from 2020-21 for the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative
  • $52.8 million over three years from 2020-21 for the expansion of the Manufacturing Modernisation Fund

Other New Initiatives

  • $124.5 million over four years from 2020-21 to continue and expand the Exploring for the Future program (Exploring for the Future 2)
  • $35.9 million over five years from 2020-21 for the expansion of the Boosting Female Founders Initiative
  • $74.5 million for the Future Fuels Package with one of the measures enabling businesses to integrate new vehicle technologies using electricity, hydrogen or biofuels into their fleets.
  • $53.6 million over six years from 2020-21 to extend the Regional and Remote communities Reliability Fund to support pilot studies for microgrids in regional and remote areas.


New Initiatives

  • $150 million for the Domestic Violence Support Package which was announced on 29 March 2020.
  • $256.6 million over two years from 2020-21 to deliver the expansion of Digital Identity which is a single secure, trusted and consistent way to verify identity online, through the digital equivalent of a 100-point ID check.
  • $16.3 million over two years from 2020-21 to create temporary incentives in the income support system to encourage recent school leavers to undertake seasonal horticultural work and help address the expected critical workforce shortages across the industry for the upcoming harvest season.