Budget 2020 | Other Measures

October 2020

In addition to business, individual, superannuation, and infrastructure announcements, the Budget contained a number of measures for tertiary education, manufacturing, defence, and agriculture. 

$1bn university research package

The Government has committed $1bn in 2020-21 to safeguard Australia's research sector against the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting investments in nationally significant research infrastructure, securing research jobs and strengthening partnerships between universities and industry. The package includes:

  • $1bn through the Research Support Program to support the cost of research
  • $41.6 million over four years from 2020-21 to establish a Strategic University Reform Fund to bring together universities and local industries to partner on innovative reform projects
  • $20 million over four years from 2020-21 to establish a Centre for Augmented Reasoning at the University of Adelaide to improve machine learning

Modern manufacturing

As previously announced, the Government has committed to $1.5 billion over five years from 2020-21 to support its Modern Manufacturing Strategy. This strategy has picked six industry winners including resources technology & critical minerals processing, food & beverages, medical products, recycling & clean energy, defence, and space.

$1.9bn for new energy technology

As previously announced, the Government has committed $1.9 billion over 12 years from 2020-21 to continue funding the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), expand the investment mandate of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), and invest in low emissions technologies, network infrastructure, dispatch-able generation and reliable supplies in the National Electricity Market (NEM). Initiatives include investment in:

  • emerging low emission technologies to increase their commercial readiness
  • a co-investment fund that supports industrial, freight and agricultural businesses to identify and adopt technologies to reduce emissions and increase productivity
  • a Future Fuels Fund, which would enable businesses to integrate new vehicle technologies, perform integration analysis and develop improved information on electric vehicles and charging infrastructure
  • pilot studies for microgrids in regional and remote areas
  • improving productivity and lower energy costs in the building and hotels sectors
  • the development of a technology neutral regional hydrogen export hub to boost regional economies

Strengthening the Defence industry

Date of effect

From 2020-21

$1 billion over two years from 2020-21 will be provided to strengthen Australia's defence industry. Key initiatives include increasing the employment of Australian Defence Force (ADF) Reservists who have lost their civilian income, and increasing funding available for Defence innovation, industry and skilling grants.

Enhancing regional programs

$124.3 million has been provided over 10 years from 2020-21 for further infrastructure projects in the Southwest Pacific, including to construct a border and patrol boat outpost in Solomon Islands' western provinces. The program is provisioned within the Defence budget.

Women's economic security

Date of effect


$231 million over four years has been provided for the Second Women's Economic Security Package, including:

  • $90.3 million over three years to relax the Paid Parental Leave work test for births and adoptions that occur between 22 March 2020 and 31 March 2021 to allow parents to qualify for the payment if they have worked in 10 of the last 20 months, instead of 10 of the last 13 months, preceding the birth or adoption of a child
  • $47.9 million over four years to increase grants for the Women's Leadership and Development Program, including funding for the Academy of Enterprising Girls and Women Building Australia
  • $35.9 million over five years to increase the number of co-funded grants to women-founded start-ups under the Boosting Female Founders Initiative
  • $25.1 million over five years to establish a Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Industry Cadetship program to support 500 women working in STEM industries to complete an Advanced Diploma through a combination of study and work-integrated learning experiences

Streamlining the agricultural export process

Date of effect


$328.4 million over four years has been committed to streamline the process of agricultural exports from 2020-21. The package includes:

  • $222.2 million over four years (and $22.3 million ongoing) to modernise the ICT systems used to regulate agricultural export assessment and certification services
  • $71.1 million over three years for the sustainability of export certification services
  • $35.2 million over four years for targeted interventions and regulatory reforms in the meat, live animal, seafood, plant and plant product export sectors

Support for drought affected farmers and communities

Over $155 million will be invested in a package of measures including:

  • $50 million in 2020-21 to extend the On-farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme
  • $19.6 million in 2021-22 to extend the drought function of the National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency for another year
  • $86 million over four years from 2020-21 through the Future Drought Fund to establish eight Drought Resilience and Adoption Hubs that support networks of researchers, farmers, agricultural business and community groups to enhance drought resilience practice, tools and technology (part of the $100 million pa Future Drought Fund).

Import duty waived on medical and hygiene products

The current free rate of customs duty on certain hygiene or medical products imported to treat, diagnose or prevent the spread of COVID-19, has been extended from 1 August 2020 to 31 December 2020.

2020-21 migration

Migration planning levels will remain at 160,000. Family Stream places will increase from 47,732 to 77,300 places on a one-off basis for the 2020-21 Migration Program year, and Employer Sponsored, Global Talent, Business Innovation and Investment Program visas will be prioritised within the Skilled Stream. Those applying on Partner visas will come under greater scrutiny with mandated character checks and the sharing of personal information as part of a mandatory sponsorship application, and sponsors will be subjected to enforceable sponsorship obligations. English language requirements will also be introduced.

Business innovation and investment

Date of effect

1 July 2021

 The Government will require more from those seeking to migrate to Australia on the Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP). Visa application charges will rise by 11.3% (above regular CPI indexation) and the program will focus on "higher value investors, business owners and entrepreneurs."

Temporary visa holders working in key sectors


The Government has made temporary changes to allow temporary visa holders currently working in the agricultural sector to continue to work in Australia during COVID-19.

Working Holiday Maker (subclass 417 and 462) visa holders currently working in food processing or the agricultural sector will be eligible for a further visa and will be exempt from the six-month work limitation with one employer. Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme workers, and other visa holders currently in the agricultural sector whose visas are expiring, may have their visas extended for up to 12 months to work for approved employers.

Supermarkets, aged and disability care

Student visa holders (subclass 500) will not be limited to the pre-COVID 40 hour per fortnight work limit in:

  • supermarkets (up to 30 April 2020)
  • aged care with an aged care Approved Provider or Commonwealth-funded aged care service provider
  • disability care with a registered National Disability Insurance Scheme provider.

Student visa holders studying relevant medical courses are also exempt from the 40 hour per fortnight work limit if they are supporting COVID-19 health efforts at the direction of the relevant health authority.

Updated list of deductible gift recipients

The following organisations have been approved as specifically listed deductible gift recipients (DGRs) for the following dates:

  • Royal Agricultural Society Foundation Limited from 1 July 2020
  • Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas from 1 July 2020
  • The Andy Thomas Space Foundation from 1 July 2020
  • The Royal Humane Society of New South Wales from 1 July 2020
  • Youthsafe from 1 July 2020
  • Alliance for Journalists' Freedom from 1 July 2020
  • The Great Synagogue Foundation Trust Fund from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2025.

The following organisations have received approval for an extension of their DGR status for the following dates:

  • Sydney Chevra Kadisha from 1 January 2021 to 30 June 2022, to extend this organisation's DGR status by 18 months
  • Centre for Entrepreneurial Research and Innovation Limited will retain DGR status from 31 December 2021 onwards.

Clarification of income tax exemption of workers with international organisations

Date of effect

1 July 2017

This measure will clarify that Australian short-term experts are entitled to an exemption from income tax for their relevant income from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and three institutions of the World Bank Group (WBG).

Regulator Budget Announcements

  •  $104.9 million to AUSTRAC over four years from 2020-21 to strengthen its capacity to combat serious financial crime and to protect Australia's financial system from criminal activities.
  • $459.2 million over four years from 2020-21 to the CSIRO to address the impact of COVID-19 on its commercial activities
  • $305.9 million additional funding to the Australian Taxation Office for the delivery of the next phase of the JobKeeper Payment and the JobMaker Hiring Credit
  • $241.2 million for the Australian Bureau of Statistics to maintain Australia's statistics gathering and analysis capabilities to better track Australia's COVID-19 economic recovery
  • $116.5 million for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (including capital funding of $32.9 million) to better protect consumers and small businesses
  • $106.4 million for the Treasury to continue to implement the Government's COVID-19 response and track economic recovery
  • $28.8 million to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority to boost its capacity to respond to risks within the financial system, with costs to be recovered from industry.
  • $15 million in additional funding for serious and organised crime in the tax and superannuation system. This extends the 2017-18 Budget measure for another two years to 30 June 2023

The Economy

We knew there was going to be a big black hole of a deficit. The Treasurer revealed $213.7 billion in 2020-21, with an expectation of this falling to $66.9 billion by 2023-24.

Australia's economy contracted by 7% in the June quarter.

Gross debt will increase to $872 billion (45% of GDP) this year and stabilise at around 55% of GDP in the medium term.

Net debt will increase to $703 billion (36% of GDP) this year before peaking at 44% of GDP in June 2024, and declining to less than 40% of GDP over the medium term.

GDP is forecast to fall by 3¾% this calendar year and the unemployment rate is forecast to peak at 8% in the December quarter. Next calendar year, GDP is forecast to grow by 4¼%, and the unemployment rate is forecast to fall to 6½% in the June quarter 2022.

Where revenue comes from (2020-21)


Where money is spent (2020-21)

Source: 2020-21 Federal Budget Appendix B: Revenue and spending

Specific regional COVID-19 funding measures

The Government has committed close to $552 million over four years from 2020-21 to assist regional Australia recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and recent natural disasters including:

  • $207.7 million over five years from 2020-21 for round 5 of the Building Better Regions Fund
  • $100 million over two years from 2020-21 to facilitate Regional Recovery Partnerships with states, territories and local governments in 10 priority investment regions
  • $51 million over two years from 2020-21 to assist regions heavily reliant on international tourism
  • $50.3 million over four years from 2020-21 to support the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training program
  • $41 million over three years from 2020-21 to support R&D activities in regional areas
  • $30.3 million over two years from 2020-21 to extend Round One of the Regional Connectivity Program to improve access to digital technologies

Follow Bates Cosgrave on Linkedin, Facebook or Twitter


This article is provided for information purposes only and correct at the time of publication. It should not be used in place of advice from your accountant. Please contact us on 02 9957 4033 to discuss your specific circumstances.

Share this

Get Small Business News each month

ChineseLanguage Select