The new New South Wales Labour government delivered its first budget on Tuesday. The budget reflects a safe and conservative view on spending with a modest $844m surplus forecast for 2024-25.

With the NSW economy rocked by major floods and other inflationary challenges, the new government inherited a gross debt forecast of $188.2 billion by June 2026. As a result, NSW Treasury hit pause on a number of high profile government grant programs while new policies were under development.

The Budget’s major focuses are on clean energy and regional industries (professional services, tourism, mining and geoscience industries), as funding for science and innovation programs have been reprioritised towards essential services and cost-of-living relief.

Read on for key industry allocations and grant program updates:

NSW Industry Funding in the Budget

  • $1.8bn investment into critical transmission and energy storage solutions for NSW’s transition into a cleaner energy future, which includes:
    • $804.0m for the State’s Renewable Energy Zones, with new infrastructure for the generation, storage and transmission of reliable, affordable and clean electricity for homes and business
    • $1.0bn to establish the Energy Security Corporation to drive investment into stable and affordable renewable energy to households across NSW,
    • $263.5m for rollout of electric vehicles and infrastructure.
  • $350m to establish the Regional Development Trust Fund.
  • $298.5 towards biosecurity and agricultural programs to protect NSW’s regional agriculture industries, including the $11.1m for the Farm Business Resilience Program with the Australian Government to help farms prepare for and adapt to climate change.
  • $224.8m to support Moree become a thriving business hub, and build sustainable water endowments and new technologies such as protected cropping and innovative energy solutions.
  • $212.2m to support Wagga Wagga to be a sustainable hub of high-value agricultural production and food manufacturing, supporting industries and businesses to connect to the world.
  • $89.8m to grown investment and job creation in mining and exploration in regional NSW through geoscience data collection.
  • $6.0m investment to regionally-focused media and news gathering organisations.
  • $5.2m investment to establish Regional Future Jobs and Investment Authorities to work with community leaders to guide the transition from a coal-based economy to other economic activity and employment.

NSW Grant program updates

  • Reprioritisation of unallocated funds from grant programs, including Restart, Regional Growth Funds, Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund, WestInvest, Future Economy Fund, Coal Innovation Fund and other programs.
    • The $703 Future Economy Fund was established in the former government to support R&D, commercialisation and business growth and relocation over four years in digital technology, medtech, defence and aerospace, the clean economy and quantum computing. However, unallocated funding will now be reprioritised to fund 1000 new apprenticeships.
  • Reprioritisation of the Regional Growth Fund to other Government priorities and election commitments.
  • Savings applied to uncommitted funds from the Regional Investment Attraction Program, Critical Minerals Activation Fund and the Coal Innovation Fund.
  • Other programs that were under review are not mentioned in the Budget papers, including the popular innovation programs MVP Ventures program, the Small Business Innovation and Research program, and the Biociences Fund. However, post-Budget, a spokesperson for the Minister for Innovation, Science and Technology confirmed at least five other programs including the MVP Ventures Program will continue to be supported.
  • Clean technology grant programs and other initiatives look to open later in 2023, including a low carbon product manufacturing and renewable manufacturing fund; clean technology R&D grants; the NSW Decarbonisation Innovation Hub and the Free Climate Technology Foundations course.

While it may feel like NSW is left wanting as far as government grant funding options are concerned, we anticipate a surge in competition in Federal programs as new flagship programs open, particularly for industry sectors aligned to National Reconstruction Fund priorities (renewable and low emissions technologies, medical science, transport, value-add in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, value-add in resources, defence, and enabling capabilities).

Other states, such as Queensland and Western Australia, with budget surpluses, are in a position to offer strong government grants programs to incentivise development in priority sectors.

New South Wales delivers a safe budget in response to a slowing economy
New South Wales delivers a safe budget in response to a slowing economy
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