As part of our plan to secure Australia’s recovery, the 2021-22 Budget continues the Morrison Government’s commitment to support economic growth and create more jobs, deliver for all Australians and advance Australia’s interests internationally.
Australia continues to support our region as COVID-19 upends lives and livelihoods.
Australia will provide $4.0 billion in Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 2021-22 with an ongoing focus on health security, stability and economic recovery in the Indo-Pacific, including $1.44 billion for the Pacific and $1.01 billion for Southeast Asia.
The Morrison Government’s funding for foreign affairs, trade and tourism is aimed squarely at building a more secure and resilient Australia while furthering our interests abroad. A region that is healthy, prosperous and stable is ultimately good for the Australian people, their security and their living standards.
In recognition of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our region, the Government has announced temporary and targeted measures to supplement the ODA budget.
This includes an estimated $319 million in additional ODA in 2021-22, including $163 million to support our neighbours to access safe, effective and affordable vaccines; $100 million to address the economic and social impacts of the pandemic in the Pacific and Timor-Leste; and $56 million to address these impacts in Southeast Asia.
Australia will also provide $37.1 million over two years from 2020-21 for a COVID-19 support package for India, with an initial package of essential medical supplies including ventilators and oxygen concentrators.
In addition, the Government will invest $198.2 million over four years from 2021-22 to support Australian exporters and businesses, deliver our Indo-Pacific priorities, and expand our advocacy and cooperation with partners internationally. These measures will complement our defence and security investments as we work to shape a regional balance that supports security, prosperity and freedom.
The Government is committed to upholding the multilateral rules-based trading system, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its core. This is critical to Australia’s economic recovery and prosperity.
The Government will work with partners to drive WTO reform to ensure the system continues to serve Australian interests. We will use the WTO’s dispute settlement system so that Australian businesses and producers can compete fairly in markets around the world, securing jobs and helping rebuild our economy.
In the face of a difficult trading environment, we will work with Australian businesses to ensure exporters have access to the widest possible range of opportunities to expand and diversify their markets. This will help build a more resilient Australian economy that creates jobs for Australians. The success of these efforts is underlined by the fact that Australia recorded a trade surplus of $73 billion in 2020, up from $68 billion in 2019.
We are also continuing to work to support and assist Australians overseas. Since the start of the pandemic, the Government has helped over 45,400 Australians return on over 500 flights, including over 18,600 people on 127 Government facilitated flights and provided emergency assistance to the most vulnerable Australians overseas.
The Government has committed $176.3 million to continue facilitated flights for Australians and extending assistance to those most in need. It will also enable a more responsive, effective and modern consular service to Australians in need. We will support Australians to return and provide those living overseas with high quality, modern consular services from professional, specialised consular officers. This builds on our consular capability, sustainability and uplift COVID-19 Response Package.
As part of the Government’s $1.2 billion tourism package to secure Australia’s recovery, we continue to support tourism operators and workers. The Government’s half-price airfares offer on 800,000 tickets has given a much-needed boost to 15 domestic tourism areas across Australia, while also supporting our aviation sector. The $94.6 million Zoos and Aquariums program will be extended by six months to maintain animal populations where tourism revenue has been affected by travel and social distancing restrictions.
Australian businesses are also benefiting from the $112.8 million extension of the International Freight Assistance Mechanism. This temporary and targeted response to COVID-19 has already repaired some of the damage to global supply chains, reconnecting Australia to almost 70 international destinations to secure critical inputs for the nation’s pandemic response and to supply customers with premium perishable goods.
Further funding of $37.4 million over three years will also be provided to drive the implementation of ambitious Simplified Trade System reforms to enhance the international competitiveness of the Australian economy. The system will create a simpler, more efficient and digitised trade framework so more Australian businesses can take full advantage of the opportunities offered by international markets.
The Morrison Government recognises the importance of strong, vibrant and resilient tourism and trade sectors. The 2021-22 Budget builds on important investments to capitalise on opportunities both at home and abroad, securing Australia’s recovery.