The Federal Budget has been delivered with the Albanese Government focussing on easing cost-of-living pressures, while investing in Australia’s industrial transformation centred on renewable energy via the Future Made in Australia initiative.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers delivered a second successive surplus, expected at $9.3b. From 2024-25 however, we will see a return to deficit starting with $28.3b in FY25.

In terms of the outlook, the Government is forecasting inflation to ease and be back below 3% by year’s end. This is in parallel to wage growth continuing to rise marginally above inflation, but in a subdued period of economic growth at 2%.

The cost-of-living measures are centred around the stage 3 tax cuts announced earlier this year, along with $3.5b of energy rebates which will see $300 for all households and $320 for small businesses. There are other measures to benefit those on rent assistance and to increase housing supply.

The allocation of $22.7b to the Future Made in Australia initiative over the forward years is the Government’s attempt to see Australia become a ‘renewable energy superpower’. Some key elements of Future Made in Australia include $13.4b of tax incentives for hydrogen production and processed critical minerals and $3.2b towards innovation in green metals, batteries, and low carbon fuels.

Some of these initiatives provide opportunity for Geelong, particularly in the space of green hydrogen and innovation in low carbon fuels. We have the industrial base, knowledge, and access to renewable energy sources to be a hydrogen hub.

In terms of transport infrastructure investment, unsurprisingly there is nothing new for Geelong.

The $2.3b allocation to the Western Sydney Airport was noted; we have a second international airport ready to go with a rail link achievable for a fraction of this investment. Avalon rail connection remains a high priority as we head towards the next election.

The major announcement for Geelong was a $6m commitment towards the Regional Indoor Sports Stadium. We have been supportive of this proposal and await further information of what this means. This won’t see an outcome delivered without any state or local council money attached and we implore all levels of Government to work together on this proposal to deliver the right outcome for Geelong.

International student intakes are to be tied to increased student housing under a new formula. It will be interesting to see how this impacts on student numbers in Geelong and the potential for increased housing supply.

Small business will benefit from $290m in cash flow support, and the instant asset write-off has been extended to 30 June 2025. This is welcomed.

Overall, the Federal Budget does not see any significant new investment into our city. There are some opportunities amongst the policy settings, and we should be targeting these. 

It also highlights the need for clarity and consistency in advocacy efforts for infrastructure investment leading into the next Federal election. We look forward to continuing our advocacy on behalf of our members to see the best outcomes for Geelong delivered.

Michael Johnston

CEO, Committee for Geelong

Image: Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images/Geelong Advertiser