The has been handed down by Treasurer Jim Chalmers. ž has crunched the numbers and pulled out the funding and programs that matter for our profession.

The Budget affects planning by influencing economic activity, setting the Government’s spending priorities and by funding key agencies, infrastructure and services for places and communities.

Have any Budget insights that we have missed? Please email them through to membership@planning.org.au.

What does the Budget mean for housing?

The National Housing Accord targets an additional 1.2M homes by 2029. The Treasurer announced $6.2B in new investments tackling infrastructure bottlenecks, student housing and funding for more social and affordable housing.

There are incentives for supply in private markets and measures which will affect the operation of social and affordable housing including:

  • $1B for crisis and transitional accommodation via National Infrastructure Facility () – this would support women and children escaping family and domestic violence.
  • Increasing the cap on the Government’s guarantee of Housing Australia liabilities by $2.5B to $10B, with an associated increase in credit of $3B to $4B.
  • Extra $1B for state and territories to build enabling infrastructure via a new priority works stream grants program .
  • $423M for social housing and homelessness services subject to a new 5-year - increasing annual funding under the agreement to $1.8 billion per year.
  • Concessional financing of up to $1.9B for community housing providers and other charities to support 40,000 new social and affordable homes.
  • Commonwealth Rent Assistance will be increased, with $1.9B over five years from 23/24 (and $0.5B per year ongoing from 28/29) to increase the maximum rates by 10 per cent from to help address rental affordability challenges for recipients.
  • $20M to identify Commonwealth land for social and affordable housing.
  • $21M for AHURI for urban and housing research to 28/29. $1M to develop a community controlled housing model.
  • An incentive linking overseas university student migration to the construction of new student accommodation.
  • Multiple measures to strengthen the labour market in the construction sector including

Overall, the funding announcements build on the $25B already committed to new housing investments, with $10B through the Housing Australia Future Fund to help build 30,000 social and affordable rental homes. There will be increasing reliance on social and affordable rental housing - but there is no acknowledgement of whether announced initiatives will keep pace or reduce the deficit in social and affordable housing.

There are no obvious measures that will dampen demand for housing as an investment asset and no attention to the tax advantages of property ownership regarding CGT or negative gearing.

The Budget’s housing commentary places high hopes on the achievement of housing targets but does not set out the assumptions behind the rate of delivery and their impact on prices in private rental and ownership markets. Housing supply chain constraints are an important factor and improvements to planning and assessment processes require continuous refinement.

What does the Budget mean for places, infrastructure, regions and settlement?

The Government has an Infrastructure Policy Statement and continues to manage a 10 year infrastructure investment pipeline in partnerships including state and territory government.

ž looks to the budget to fulfil strategic plans for growing cities and regions by backing key investments. There are some great examples but we are looking for more evidence of spatial criteria being used to identify and prioritise enabling infrastructure. This is why ž advocates for a National Settlement Strategy and supports the development of a National Urban Policy and State of Cities reporting. The Budget announcement on migration reduction (down to 260,000 per year / NOM to 1.5M over 5 years) and cap on overseas students should interact with a settlement strategy that tackles the capacity for growth and change in urban and regional Australia.

ž applauds the grant programs emerging from the Cities Program, including the ‘Urban Precincts and Partnerships’ and the ‘Thriving Suburbs’ Programs. ž supports investments of over $400M being targeted towards regional strategy goals, boosting planning capacity and building community infrastructure in the right places.

The Budget includes:

  • Additional $1.9B for infrastructure projects in Western Sydney aligned with the Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan an element of the Western Sydney City Deal. This boost for the region was influenced by the Western Sydney Transport Infrastructure Panel.
  • Additional $3.25B for non-tolled sections of in Melbourne - not highlighted in
  • Additional $1.1B for stage 1 of the from Beerwah to Caloundra and a component for corridor protection for an eventual stage to Maroochydore (aligned with ).
  • $79M for a business case for high-speed rail between Sydney and Newcastle via the - aligned with the .
  • $50M towards Canberra Light Rail – aligned with .
  • The Bruce Highway in Queensland will receive $467M for upgrades.

What does the Budget mean for climate, resilience and the environment?

The ‘Future Made in Australia’ is a major initiative that backs investment in industries with a role in emissions reduction. There is significant expenditure committed ($22.7B) in:

  • $1B for the to increase Australian manufactured solar panels.
  • $2B for Hydrogen Headstart scheme to .
  • Programs supporting investment in key minerals for the green economy including mining and processing rare earths, lithium, graphite and mapping of future resources.

These investments should be seen alongside commitments to extend gas industry production beyond 2050. ž notes other elements of the Budget enabling a transformation of the economy by promoting jobs in regions, workforce transition (in areas where fossil fuel energy is being wound back) and green economy training for trades.

ž are advocates of planning making a constructive contribution to industry sector plans with targets to reduce carbon emissions along the way to net zero by 2050. The Climate Change Authority is committed to develop these plans next year.

Australia’s transition to a circular economy will be an essential element of these plans. The Budget invests $23M (in 24-25) to develop a new national circular economy framework to tackle problematic waste streams, such as packaging and progress a new recycling scheme for solar panels.

In relation to climate change resilience, ž supports the preparation of a National Climate Adaptation Plan and note the Budget’s inclusion of a Future Drought Fund.

In relation to the environment, there are statements supporting $307M expenditure including extensions of the previous Budget’s Nature Positive Plan:

  • $121M for the establishment of the Commonwealth Environment Protection Authority
  • $51M for Environment Information Australia to offer easier access to the environmental data, release State of the Environment reports every two years, and report on progress on national environmental goals.
  • $134M to strengthen and streamline environmental approval decisions on priority projects including for renewables and critical minerals projects.
  • Establishment and administration of the Nature Repair Market
  • $65M for threatened species research in sensitive areas
  • $25 million for better planning – working with state and territory governments in seven priority regions so it’s clearer to business where complying development can more easily occur and where the ‘no go’ areas are.

What does the Budget mean for the business of planning and development?

There is Consensus amongst commentators that the Government could get on top of inflation given muted GDP and wage growth. This could open the door for the RBA to reduce interest rates but Budget spending initiatives, household energy bill relief and Stage 3 tax cuts may push in the other direction notwithstanding the assumptions made.

While the Budget does not appear to include measures that directly impact property development costs, there are measures that will have an effect, including:

  • Future incentive payments under the Housing Accord ($3B new homes bonus post 28/29) that reward States for the adoption of housing construction targets and the streamlining of planning approvals.
  • Last mile infrastructure $500M under the Housing Support Program would reduce risks on projects that benefit.
  • Funding for new social and affordable housing delivery.
  • Ultimately, the balance of Commonwealth payments to each State will influence local investment prospects.

ž would appreciate feedback on the extent to which any significant corporate governance, tax and foreign investment rule changes would influence the business environment in the property sector.

What does the Budget mean for some key institutions?

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development Communication and the Arts (including Cities and Suburbs Unit and Infrastructure Australia) will increase its resourcing by around 11% to $687M. The greatest increases are in programs ‘strengthening the capacity and diversity of Australia’s cities and regions’. This includes an additional $141m in 24/25 (and a further $220M by 26/27) to the Cities Program which includes grants via the Urban Precincts and Partnerships Program and the Thriving Suburbs Program to support investment in community infrastructure.

The ž Wrap

The Budget makes important progress funding social and affordable housing and reorienting Australia’s economy for a green future. The investment in ‘last mile’ and local infrastructure grants for precincts recognises that major trunk infrastructure is not enough to help growing communities thrive.

ž will continue to advocate for aligning infrastructure and services investment with growth priorities for cities and towns to help implement strategic plans.