Does the water industry benefit from the 2018-19 Budget?
The Australian Government recently outlined the 2018-19 budget, identifying a few areas of investment that are in relation to the water industry.
Budget documents mainly showed government backing for local farmers, a support for the Great Barrier Reef, research around water issues and sustainable access to drinking water. Below are the key areas of investment in the water industry:
- The government said it is backing farmers by improving water infrastructure and the accuracy of GPS data for regional Australians, and increasing access to a broader range of agricultural and veterinary chemicals. It has announced new funding of $102 million for biosecurity and $26.6 million to better manage pests and weeds.
- As previously reported, the government has set aside $535.8 million (over five years from 2017-18) to accelerate the delivery of the Great Barrier Reef’s Reef 2050 Plan. This aims to secure the future of the Reef and the 64,000 jobs it supports, including efforts to:
- build the Reef’s resilience to coral bleaching and extreme weather events by expanding the culling of coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish and improving the quality of water entering the Reef;
- progress a research and development program for science innovations for coral reef restoration and adaptation to rising ocean temperatures;
- boost Reef health monitoring and reporting activities through the implementation of the Reef 2050 Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program;
- expand the Joint Field Management Program with the Queensland Government; and
- engage the community, including traditional owners, in Reef protection and sea-country management, including through a Reef communications campaign.
- The cost of this measure will be partially offset by redirecting future funding from the 2016-17 Budget measure titled Reef 2050 Plan and Reef Trust — additional contribution and builds on the 2016-17 MYEFO measure titled Invest in Our Great Barrier Reef.
- The government will provide $34.1 million over five years from 2017-18 for research and associated activities related to per- and poly-fluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS). The funding includes the establishment of a PFAS Remediation Research Program and additional resourcing for the Department of the Environment and Energy to manage its responsibilities.Specifically, the PFAS Remediation Research Program aims to facilitate the development of innovative technologies to investigate and remediate PFAS contaminated substances, including soil and other solid contaminated debris, groundwater, waterways and marine systems.
- The government will also provide $55.2 million over five years from 2018-19 to establish a drinking water program in communities surrounding Army Aviation Centre Oakey, RAAF Base Williamtown, RAAF Base Tindal and RAAF Base Pearce, where environmental site assessments have identified property owners who use bores as their primary source of drinking water. Under this measure, support will include bottled water until alternative water infrastructure is provided.
- The government has also allocated $3.2 billion for priority regional, urban and water infrastructure in Western Australia, of which up to $140 million in grant funding and a concessional loan of up to $50 million has been set towards the Myalup-Wellington Dam Project to improve the quality of water stored in and released from the dam for agriculture.
- The government has also said it will provide $36.9 million over three years from 2019-20 (and $12.8 million ongoing) to provide governments, businesses, researchers and individuals with access to reliable standardised satellite data through the Digital Earth Australia program.
This data is to be used for the build of new digital products and services for commercial purposes, and to interpret and analyse changes to Australia’s physical landscape, enabling a better understanding of environmental changes such as coastal erosion, crop growth and water quality, adding that governments will be equipped with tools to reduce future flood impacts through improved disaster planning.
For the full list of Budget 2018-19 strategies and measures, click here.