On Tuesday night the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, unveiled his first Federal Budget with a raft of spending commitments that launched the Coalition’s bid to for re-election. With a Federal election expected to be announced sometime in the next few days income tax cuts of $302 billion over the next decade and $100 billion in infrastructure funding were two of the big-ticket items announced.

The Treasurer set the scene for what promises to be a tightly fought election with a forecast $45 billion surplus over the next four years and significantly bringing the budget back into the black for the first time since the global financial crisis to the tune of $7.1 billion in 2019/20 with the aim of having all commonwealth debt paid off within the next ten years.

The package was particularly notable for committing $100 billion to infrastructure spending over the next ten years.

TTF has identified the ‘top 5’ tourism and transport outcomes that you need to know about from the budget:

Top 5 Tourism and Transport announcements: 

  1. Funding boost for key national infrastructure projects

Increase in transport infrastructure funding, growing from $75 billion to $100 billion over the next decade including:

  • $2 billion plan to deliver fast rail from Geelong to Melbourne and a commitment to develop fast rail corridors in NSW, QLD and VIC encouraging dispersal of tourists to regional areas
  • $100 million dedicated to regional airport upgrades
  • $220 million investment in improved regional internet and mobile services which will upgrade wireless infrastructure and improve connectivity.
  • Increasing the Urban Congestion Fund from $1 billion to $4 billion
  • $500 million to a Commuter Car Park Fund which will improve access to public transport hubs
  • $3.5 billion for stage one of the Western Sydney North South Rail Link
  1. Tourism funding
  • Funding for Tourism Australia increased by just $15.6 million, well short of what is required to cover the $35 million reduction of two years ago nor media costs inflation in key markets which is well above normal inflation
  • $60 million boost to the Export Market Development Grants scheme over three years, taking annual spend to $157.9 million to support businesses with income up to $50 million a year, to promote themselves overseas.
  1. Regional Tourism Grants

An additional $50 million over three years to be known as a National Tourism Icons Program to support vital infrastructure and upgrades in regional tourist destinations

  1. Visas
  • An indexed increase 2.25 per cent in the cost of all visas including visitor visas
  • An increase of 5.4% in the cost of other visas including backpacker visas and on visas for skilled migrants
  1. Skills and training
  • A $525 million skills package to reform the vocational education and training sector
  • A double incentive payment to employers for placing apprentices from $4000 to $8000

On balance, this is a bittersweet Budget for our TTF membership. While the nation-wide investment in big-ticket transport infrastructure projects is very welcome, the Government has again missed a golden opportunity to reap the benefits from substantially increasing its funding for Tourism Australia and up the costs of visas assisting the further development of one of the nation’s super growth industries.

TTF’s media statement in response to last night’s Budget can be accessed here.