2020-21 Budget backs water reforms, northern Australia and gas to support Australia’s economic recovery and jobs

Article courtesy of the Hon Keith Pitt MP

The Morrison-McCormack Government is further supporting the development of northern Australia and Australia’s gas and resources sector in the 2020-21 Budget to support jobs as part of our COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.

The Government has announced a series of reforms to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) aimed at improving the speed and scope of projects to be funded that will further unlock economic opportunities and more jobs across the north.

The 2020-21 Budget also contains measures to support a gas-fired economic recovery, as well as initiatives to strengthen the resources and exploration sectors, and investing in regional communities undergoing water reform.


The Government will ensure Australia continues to be a major gas exporter while also delivering affordable gas to the domestic economy and strengthening the reliability of our electricity network.

As part of our gas-fired recovery plan, the 2020-21 Budget includes $28.3 million to develop five Strategic Basin Plans which will unlock and accelerate the development of vast gas reserves, increase domestic supply and lower prices for households and businesses. This will start with plans for the Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory and the North Bowen and Galilee Basin in Queensland.

In addition, the Government is providing $13.7 million over four years to provide quality assured scientific research and information to communities living in gas development regions through the CSIRO’s Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance. This complements investments by the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction in an inaugural National Gas Infrastructure Plan, as well as gas regulatory reform initiatives.

Also in the resources sector, the Budget includes $124.5 million to fund an expanded  Exploring for the Future Program.

The program, operated by Geoscience Australia, will deliver detailed data on potential resources in vast areas that have yet to be fully explored. This funding will help unlock new resources along two major corridors identified as resource-rich in both western and eastern parts of Australia.

The Government is also investing $103.6 million to undertake the critical foundational work required to build the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility, including establishing a dedicated agency for the management of Australia’s radioactive waste that brings together responsibility and expertise in this important and specialised field. The new Australian Radioactive Waste Agency will be based in Adelaide and be responsible for all functions of the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility, including engagement with the Kimba community in South Australia.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, Keith Pitt, says “the creation of the new agency is the next important step in developing Australia’s radioactive waste management storage solution and capabilities.”

“A single agency ensures a dedicated focus on managing Australia’s radioactive waste in accordance with domestic and international regulations and best practice.”

Northern Australia

Reforms for the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) will ensure the $5 billion facility will have more flexibility to bankroll investment in a wider range of projects across northern Australia, and will speed up investment approvals. This comes on top of July’s announcement of a five-year extension to the NAIF until 30 June 2026.

“The Australian Government is committed to creating jobs across northern Australia to help the region play a stronger role in Australia’s economic recovery,” Minister Pitt said.

“We are empowering the NAIF to accelerate lending and providing greater flexibility in how it can support projects driving economic and population growth – during the challenging business environment due to COVID-19.”

“We are determined to open up further opportunities to strengthen northern Australia’s contribution to our economy by continuing to support infrastructure and development.”

“NAIF has already invested more than $2 billion in sectors including health, education, resources, energy and agriculture supporting more than 6,500 jobs.”

The 2020-21 Budget also includes $3.5 million over two years to fund preliminary rehabilitation works at the former Rum Jungle copper and uranium mine in the Northern Territory. The funds will support land management and training jobs for local Indigenous communities.

The Budget also contains an additional $41.5 million to support NAIF’s operations following the decision to extend NAIF.


The Morrison Government is boosting our support for farmers by providing an additional $50 million to extend the On‑Farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme.

Minister Pitt says “this scheme has provided real assistance to some of our hardest-hit farmers by helping them install new water infrastructure and I am pleased we can work with the states to continue helping them.”

The Budget includes funding for measures announced in August in the Murray–Darling Communities Investment Package that will build trust and transparency, as well as improve the health of the rivers and Basin communities.

“The package puts communities and jobs at the heart of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan while also delivering for the environment and agriculture,” Minister Pitt said.

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