Boosting jobs and maximising growth to secure Australia's recovery

The Morrison-McCormack Government will maximise long-term economic opportunities and job creation to secure Australia’s recovery, by expanding the nation’s resources sector and prioritising development of northern Australia.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said new measures in the 2021-22 Budget will build a more secure and resilient Australia, delivering jobs, opportunities and long-term benefits, particularly for regional Australia, as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The 2021-22 Budget locks in funding to accelerate the development of northern Australia, and to build a global resources strategy and network to strengthen a vital sector that continues to underpin our economic recovery and wellbeing,” Minister Pitt said.

“While rain and cooler weather have eased drought conditions across parts of eastern Australia, the Government continues to invest in practical measures to help farmers improve water infrastructure, and to reform water markets in the Murray–Darling Basin.”


In setting up Australia for the future, the Government will invest in a global strategy to highlight the quality, strength and reliability of Australia as a supplier of crucial resources and energy to the world while supporting companies to diversify and develop new markets.

Supporting our junior explorers will help the industry make the next big discoveries. The resources sector employs more than 260,000 people, with many of these jobs in regional Australia. More than a million Australians rely on the sector indirectly.

The 2021-22 Budget includes:

  • $100 million in fiscal balance terms to extend the Junior Minerals Exploration Incentive for four years from 1 July 2021, to encourage exploration and development of new deposits and to ensure a strong investment pipeline for development across regional Australia;
  • $20.1 million over two years to deliver a Global Resources Strategy, which will diversify and strengthen Australia’s access to key export markets, and reduce the risk of trade disruptions;
  • Funding for the Rum Jungle Rehabilitation Project in the Northern Territory, supporting around 61 full time direct jobs over 11 years and creating significant indirect employment and local supply opportunities, including training, employment and other engagement opportunities for the site’s traditional owners; and
  • New funding to implement the Government’s Strategic Basin Plans, including $15.7 million to support Gas Field Trials in the North Bowen and Galilee Basins, and $2.2 million for the Northern Land Council to help provide better services to Traditional Owners in the Beetaloo Basin.

Decommissioning levy

The 2021-22 Budget includes a temporary levy on offshore petroleum production to fund decommissioning and remediation works in the Laminaria-Corallina oilfields and associated infrastructure.

Minister Pitt said the levy was an important measure to ensure taxpayers aren’t footing the bill for the decommissioning and remediation of the oilfields, northwest of Darwin in the Timor Sea.

The Government will consult with industry over details of the levy’s administration, with further information to be announced following this consultation period.

The Government has previously announced an enhanced decommissioning framework, to make sure Australia has effective oversight and robust financial and accountability safety nets in relation to future offshore oil and gas decommissioning projects.

Northern Australia

The Government is also securing Australia’s recovery by directly investing $189.6 million over five years for the Next Five Year Plan for Northern Australia, with a focus on job creation, stronger digital connectivity, and support for businesses to scale-up and diversify.

Our North, Our Future: 2021-2026 represents the next phase of the 20-year framework set out in the 2015 White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, to build on the economic potential of the north and to create jobs and opportunities to help attract people to live and do business in the north.

Measures include:

  • $9.3 million over five years to pilot the targeted Regions of Growth (ROG) program in four locations: Beetaloo Basin to Darwin; Broome to Kununurra to Darwin; Cairns to Gladstone; and Mount Isa to Townsville. The program will target investment to the strengths of each region and help identify future geographical areas of economic potential;
  • $68.5 million over two years from 2021-22 to improve digital connectivity in the north, including remote Indigenous communities, through dedicated funding under the Regional Connectivity Program and Mobile Black Spot Program; and
  • $111.9 million over five years for a Northern Australia Development Program. The program will support northern Australian businesses to scale-up and diversify by providing co-investment funding to businesses for activities including infrastructure, assets, feasibility studies and business planning.

Our North, Our Future: 2021-2026 builds on the Australian Government’s plans to drive job creation and industry growth, supporting national recovery efforts from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.


In the water portfolio, Minister Pitt said Budget measures are centred on three key areas to set Australia up for the future:

  • providing practical support to farmers who experienced drought to improve their on-farm water infrastructure in partnership with states;
  • reforming water markets to ensure water users could have confidence in their integrity and operation; and
  • improving Murray–Darling Basin modelling to build the confidence of governments, water users and communities in planning for an uncertain future.

“We have extended the On-farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme for 12 months until June 2022 to ensure drought-affected farmers can access the $50 million in rebate funding secured through the 2020-21 Budget,” Minister Pitt said.

“We will form an expert panel to progress important reforms to Murray–Darling Basin water markets in ways that support water users while improving market efficiency, information and governance.

“Reforming our water markets will need strong collaboration between governments, as well as with communities.

“And we’re committed to developing a state-of-the-art modelling capability for the whole Basin to ensure farmers, communities and governments can make decisions confident in the data they rely on.

“These measures are on top of the $270 million Murray–Darling Communities Investment Package announced last year to put communities and jobs at the heart of Basin Plan implementation. In 2021-22 $130 million of that is committed to support our communities.

“We have also closed the Water Efficiency Program and ruled out water buybacks, diverting over $1.3 billion to focus on off-farm efficiency projects.

“Off-farm water recovery means we can actually progress our river health targets and, unlike on-farm programs we do not reduce water availability in the consumptive pool.”

Radioactive Waste Management

The Government will invest an extra $2.0 million in the Kimba community in South Australia by extending the Community Benefit Program. The program will further support social-cohesion and economic development in the Kimba region during the site selection process for the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility.

Digital Economy Strategy

As part of the Government’s Digital Economy Strategy, the Government will invest $40.2 million over the forward estimates and $6.3 million ongoing to enhance Australia’s location-based data infrastructure to create a secure, dynamic and three-dimensional Digital Atlas of Australia. This will assist with better informing decision making for governments, businesses and community organisations to respond to needs and challenges at both the local and national levels.

The Government’s 2021-22 Budget measures underpin the importance of a resilient resources sector and development in northern Australia, which will help to secure Australia’s future by driving job creation and economic growth.

Media contact:

Minister Pitt's office: 02 6277 7180