| 15 May 2024

Federal Budget 2024 – impacts for the profession

The Federal Budget has delivered an ambitious and forward focused agenda, with its skills, innovation, sovereign capability and global energy transition focus welcomed by Engineers Australia.

Against a backdrop of ongoing fiscal, workforce, environmental and global challenges - engineers will be pivotal in delivering the agenda.  

CEO Romilly Madew and Group Executive Policy and Public Affairs Damian Ogden were in Canberra for Budget night, advocating for the profession on the importance of bolstering a future ready skilled workforce and strengthening the engineering pipeline to ensure the nation can deliver on a future which is both sustainable and innovative. 

Engineers Australia also supports the budget initiatives outlined for AI, Infrastructure and STEM.

Future Made in Australia

The Government’s budget centrepiece, Future Made in Australia, focuses on unifying industry and trade policy, the transition to net zero, national resilience, and innovation. This will reshape the nation’s economy and make it less dependent on exporting raw materials. Instead, the government will look to invest in value-adding projects and capability.

Engineers Australia CEO Romilly Madew says the Government’s Future Made in Australia framework is the first generational plan we have seen in Australia to tackle the looming energy transition.

Future Made is not just taking a renewables and decarbonisation perspective. It looks at the economics – the need to build new green markets and jobs to replace old ones, harness technology and innovation, and consider supply chains from the perspective of both engaging with trade and also being clear-eyed about national resilience.”

The Budget includes:

$68.0 million to establish the Future Made in Australia agenda:

$1.7 billion for investments in innovation, science and digital capabilities to support Future Made, including: 

  • $566.1 million for Geoscience Australia to map Australia’s resources and identify potential discoveries of critical minerals.
  • $466.4 million for quantum computing facilities with PsiQuantum and the Queensland Government. 
  • $448.7 million to join with the United States on the next generation of the Landsat satellite earth observation program.

$19.7 billion to make Australia a renewable energy superpower. 

Priority industries include renewable hydrogen, green metals, low carbon liquid fuels, refining and processing of critical minerals and manufacturing of clean energy technologies including in solar and battery supply chains.

  • An estimated $7.1 billion to support refining and processing of critical minerals including a Critical Minerals Production Tax Incentive.
  • An estimated $8.0 billion to support the production of renewable hydrogen, including a Hydrogen Production Tax Incentive, an additional round of the Hydrogen Headstart program, and for the 2024 National Hydrogen Strategy, including hydrogen infrastructure planning, social license and industry safety training and regulation.
  • Australian Renewable Energy Agency gets $1.5 billion to supercharge its current investments, and $1.7 billion for a new Future Made in Australia Innovation Fund.
  • $1.4 billion for manufacturing of clean energy technologies, including:
    • $835.6 million to establish the Solar Sunshot program
    • $549.0 million for battery manufacturing (the Battery Breakthrough Initiative, the Powering Australia Industry Growth Centre and the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre, and an Australian Made Battery Manufacturing Precinct) 
    • $2.0 million to look at feasibility for a green polysilicon industry in Australia
  • $20.9 million looking into low carbon liquid fuels, including a certification scheme through the Guarantee of Origin Scheme. 
  • $18.1 million to expedite the emergence of Australia’s green metals industry.
  • $11.4 million to fast track the Guarantee of Origin Scheme for green hydrogen.
  • Critical minerals projects including up to $655 million under the Critical Minerals Facility and up to $400 million through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.
  • Funding for sustainable finance markets, strengthening and fast-tracking environmental approvals, and developing the clean energy workforce. 

There is also $209.3m to expand the Net Zero Economic Authority and $178.6m in worker transition support. This will be vital support for workers and regions impacted by the move from fossil fuels to clean energy.

A Future Made in Australia and sustainable workforce

Engineers are crucial to the successful implementation of Future Made in Australia.

“Engineers are Australia’s innovators and problem-solvers, bound by ethical practice. Engineers, by their training, take a systems approach, assess risks and safety, and have a practical eye to implementation.

“Unleashing the engineering workforce right across industry, boosting engineering skills in government, and investing in more engineering research and development are the keys to creating the innovation and value-add that the government is seeking through its Future Made in Australia agenda,” Ms Madew said.

To make Future Made in Australia work, the government needs to plan now to equip Australians with the digital and green skills they will need to transfer to the industries and jobs of the future.

The Budget outlines support for the clean energy workforce including:

  • $91 million for the VET sector.
  • $55.6 million for the Building Women’s Careers program to improve women’s access to flexible, safe and inclusive work in traditionally male-dominated industries.
  • $38.2 million to increase diversity in STEM education and industries.
  • $10.0 million in 2025–26 to establish a National Hydrogen Technology Skills Training Centre, in partnership with the Victorian Government.

Australia Made net clean hydrogen can be a critical pillar of the Future Made in Australia program. Hydrogen has a wide variety of applications across transport, industry and power, which is why it is referred to as the Swiss Army Knife of the energy transition.

Setting the right regulatory and policy environment for the development of hydrogen production and manufacturing along with funding for research and development, and to commercialise promising innovation, can unlock the potential of the industry in Australia.

Engineers Australia argues that this work needs to be accompanied by national guidelines for community engagement in the hydrogen sector, including specific provisions for indigenous communities and cultural heritage; as well as a national water access strategy that considers all sources and uses across the economy, including the potential for desalinated and recycled water.

Innovative Future

Engineers drive technological advancement, foster productivity and economic growth and ensure the integration of robust defence measures to safeguard national security.

Engineers Australia welcomes the $39.9 million investment over five years for the development of policies and capability to support the use of safe and responsible AI. Funding includes:

  • $21.6 million for a reshaped National AI Centre and an AI advisory body within the Department of Industry, Science and Resources.
  • More than $15 million to support the capability and coordination of AI policy and engagement activities across government. This includes improving regulations in areas of health care and copyright law.
  • $2.6 million to mitigate against national security risks related to AI.

“This funding injection will support in the uptake of AI in Australia. Industry needs confidence in the policies and regulations which will impact the use of AI.

“It is great to see funding in these areas, including for an AI advisory body. Engineers Australia has been calling for a body to be established to enable collaboration between industry, academia and government with a goal to promote research and development of AI technologies that align with ethical and responsible practices.

Greater use of AI and other digital technologies have broad ranging benefits from productivity improvements, through to changing people’s quality of life.”

Government and industry must look to training and upskilling the labour force both in using the technology and rolling out new digital tools. Training in these skills should complement and expand core competencies and drive the standardisation of methods,” Ms Madew said.


Engineers Australia welcomes new Budget initiatives to address skilled workforce shortages and increase STEM capability.

The federal government has earmarked $1.1 billion in funding over the next five years and an additional $2.7 billion from 2028–29 to 2034‍–‍35, to expand access to higher education and support future productivity.

  • The Budget has responded to 29 of the 47 recommendations from the Universities Accord, including: 
    • Adopting a target of 80 per cent of the working age population holding a tertiary qualification by 2050.
    • Initiatives to support tertiary harmonisation – better collaboration between the higher education and VET sectors.
    • The establishment of the Australian Tertiary Education Commission, a new governance structure for the Higher Education system.
    • A Strategic Examination of Research and Development.
    • Focus across the initiatives to support higher education participation from underrepresented cohorts, such as needs-based funding.

The Australian Tertiary Education Commission (ATEC) should include structures to ensure professions are represented, particularly professions that provide accreditation of degree programs.

Engineers Australia welcomes the strategic examination of research and development. With an announcement that Minister for Education Jason Clare and Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic will be establishing an expert panel, Engineers Australia urges the government to ensure that engineers be included as a critical part of the Research and Development landscape. 

Engineers Australia supports cost-of-living support for students to help address skills shortages.

Students undergoing mandatory workforce placements will receive a Commonwealth Practical Payment to support them while at university and while doing vocational training and education qualifications.

This assistance will flow to student teachers, midwives and social workers who’ll receive $319.50 per week during their clinical and professional placements.

With the nation already short of engineers we call upon the Government to extend this assistance to engineering students.

“Governments need to do more to address shortages by removing barriers to completing a degree and entering the workforce. Engineers need to support themselves and their families and if the nation is serious about ensuring a smarter future, this scheme should include engineers,” said Ms Madew.

Engineers Australia backs the additional investment in engineering trades, as these workers play a vital role in the engineering team. This includes $90 million for 20,000 fee-free TAFE places for the housing and construction sector.   

Climate change and resilience

Engineers Australia welcomes action to prepare for and manage the impact of climate change.

The Budget provides for:

  • $519.1 million from the Future Drought Fund to help farmers and rural communities manage the impacts of climate change and prepare for future droughts.
  • Bidding to co-host, with the Pacific, the 31st Conference of the Parties (COP31).
  • $23 million for circular economy policy, program and legislative functions.
  • $138.7 million to improve Australia’s response and resilience to natural hazards and disasters, and a pilot program for a Strategic Fleet of vessels to improve crisis response capacity.


Infrastructure investment continues with the Government looking to build a better future through considered infrastructure investment. This follows their review of the $120 billion infrastructure investment pipeline and the Infrastructure Policy Statement release at the end of last year. 

$4.1 billion has been allocated to 65 new priority infrastructure projects across Australia. The list of projects is vast. It is positive to also see $200 million investment for the Safer Local Roads and Infrastructure Program and $100.0 million over four years for an Active Transport Fund which will support the construction and upgrade of bicycle and walking paths across Australia.

There is also investment in regional Australia for First Nations Digital Inclusion including $40 million to roll our community wi-fi. 

Transport is the third-largest greenhouse gas emitting sector in Australia, responsible for just under 20 per cent of national emissions. It is great to see a $154 million investment to implement a New Vehicle Efficiency Standard. Engineers Australia supports the introduction of a New Vehicle efficiency Standard as it will benefit all Australia through emissions reduction, lowering the cost and increasing the choice of electric vehicles as well as improving air quality.

The Budget also provides for $176.4 million to deliver new water infrastructure projects. 


The budget places a focus on Homes for Australia. This includes:

  • $1 billion for crisis and transitional accommodation for women and children fleeing domestic violence, and youth under the National housing Infrastructure Facility. 
  • $1 billion worth of funding for states and territories to build the infrastructure needed for new homes and social housing supply. 

It also includes a new $9.3 billion five-year National Agreement on Social Housing and Homelessness to help state and territory governments combat homelessness. 

“To enable the best value for this investment, innovation in the building sector is needed. It is good to see this investment coming at the same time the Building Ministers progress to cut red tape and enable more modular housing to be built" Ms Madew said.


Australia’s Defence force is shifting to a more specialised and cohesive force with capabilities across maritime, land, air, space and cyber. This aims to effectively manage the risks Australia is facing and project us as a military power. 

The Government intends to bolster ADF capability to deter threats through investment which enhances resilience, the ability to deploy forces and maintaining operations during emergencies. To deliver on the 2024 National Defence Strategy and the Integrated Investment Program, the Government will invest an additional $50.3 billion over 10 years. This investment will include:

  • $1 billion to expedite investments in areas such as fuel resilience and robotic and autonomous systems. 
  • More than $11 billion to deliver on the Independent Analysis of Navy’s Surface Combatant Fleet.
  • $38.2 billion over seven years from 2027–28 to support the next generation capabilities within the Integrated Investment Program.