Navigating the 2024 Federal Budget: A Focus on Renewable Energy and Women+

Navigating the 2024 Federal Budget: A Focus on Renewable Energy and Women+

Written by:

Future Group

Navigating the 2024 Federal Budget: A Focus on Renewable Energy and Women+

This year’s Federal Budget brings notable enhancements, with one long waited for and much needed superannuation change included. Australia's ambitious path to net zero emissions was a highlight of the budget, along with cost of living relief, addressing the domestic violence crisis and attempting to close the gender pay gap.

Our guide to the budget - highs, lows and what was missed. 

Superannuation Specific Measures

The government will spend $1.1 billion over four years to pay the superannuation guarantee on government-funded paid parental leave from July 2025. 

Paying super on parental leave may go some way to addressing the disparity in retirement incomes between men and women which is now at 25%. This initiative was already announced but the costs have been included in this budget for the first time. 

Beyond that, there weren’t many big changes for your super in this budget. 

There’s an attempt to claw back unpaid super from businesses that are in liquidation or bankruptcy through the recalibration of the Fair Entitlements Guarantee Recovery Program. From 1 July 2024, this program will come into effect and it’s expected to achieve efficiencies of $13 million over four years. 

There’s also funding for the SuperStream Gateway Network Governance Body, this will ensure the smooth operation and governance of the SuperStream system. SuperStream is how businesses pay the superannuation guarantee. 

Fighting fraud in super is a priority too, with $187 million allocated to the ATO over four years from 1 July 2024 to strengthen its ability to fight fraud against the tax and superannuation systems.

Making Australia a Renewable Energy Superpower 

This budget introduced the Future Made in Australia plan, a $22.7 billion investment, which aims to establish Australia as a renewable energy superpower. The plan includes: 

  • $1 billion for local solar panel manufacturing.

  • $523.2 million for the Battery Breakthrough Initiative.

  • $2 billion to support green hydrogen projects.

  • $13.7 billion in production tax incentives for green hydrogen and critical minerals.

  • $1.7 billion for the Future Made in Australia Innovation Fund, focusing on new industries like green metals and low carbon fuels.

  • $520 million to enhance net zero trade and engagement.

  • $566 million to map Australia's geological potential, identifying critical minerals and groundwater.

  • $20.7 million to improve engagement via the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner and national developer standards.

  • $63.8 million to support emissions reduction in agriculture and land sectors.

What does it mean for investors? 

Investors are a key part of the government’s vision for the path to net zero, with $17.3 million over four years to promote the development of sustainable finance markets in Australia. 

Alongside that, additional measures to attract investment have been announced including $168.1 million to better prioritise approval decisions for renewable energy projects of national significance. There’s also $20.7 million to improve engagement with communities involved in the energy transition, and $15.7 million to deliver a more streamlined and transparent approach to foreign investment. 

At Future Group our focus is on driving investment returns while delivering on our ethical mandates. We welcome initiatives that support the net zero transition as this can open up more opportunities for investment.  

The government also allocated $5.3 million over four years for the Treasury, ASIC and APRA to deliver the sustainable finance framework, including issuing green bonds, improving data and engaging in the development of international regulatory regimes related to sustainable finance. 

The regulatory focus on eliminating greenwashing and holding the ethical and responsible investment sector to high standards remains in this budget too, with $10 million for additional resourcing for ASIC to continue its greenwashing and sustainability-related work.  This will enable the regulator to take enforcement action against market participants engaging in greenwashing and other sustainability-related financial misconduct. 

There was also $1.6 million for ASIC and the Treasury to consult on the design of a labelling regime for retail investment products, which will regulate the use of sustainability labels in the investment industry. 

Consumers deserve to be able to trust the sustainability and ethics claims made by this industry. Future Group supports this continued investment in regulating financial products labelled as sustainable, ethical or responsible. 

Budget wins for women

The Treasurer made it clear that he wanted to deliver a budget that was good for women. In response to the protests around the country following the deaths of 27 women this year, this budget included the Leaving Violence Program. 

It sees $925.2 million to establish the permanent Leaving Violence Program, taking the total investment to address violence against women to $3.4 billion. Those eligible for the program will be able to access up to $5000 in financial support along with referral services, risk assessments and safety planning.

Elsewhere, the budget allocated $49.1 million for longer consultations addressing complex gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis and pelvic pain, enhancing care for women with these challenging health issues. 

But that wasn’t the only big health announcement that impacts women. There was also: 

  • Access to a breast cancer drug that previously cost $97,000 per course on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme for $31.60. 

  • Funding for contraception training for doctors. 

  • Period products for First Nations communities.

  • $56.5 million over four years to enhance maternity care.

  • $7 million to support the development of miscarriage education and awareness materials and provide funding for bereavement care services. 

  • $5.8 million will continue prevention efforts on preterm and early-term births among First Nations women, and $900,000 will support the National Stillbirth Action and Implementation Plan. 

  • $3.5 million will expand the Midwife Professional Indemnity Scheme, facilitating Birthing on Country programs for First Nations women. 

  • $1.2 million to support training for health professionals in treating and managing menopause. 

Overdue pay rise for child care workers

One of Future Group’s super funds, Child Care Super, is the fund for child care workers so we were pleased to see that the 2024/25 Federal Budget provides a commitment to fund wage increases in the sector.

It is now important that any wage increase awarded by the ongoing Fair Work Commission case be funded in full by the Federal Government following this budget announcement, with $30 million set aside to do so.

Australian parents are already paying some of the highest fees for childcare in the OECD, and it is clear that most childcare centre operators cannot absorb wage increases without passing on higher fees to parents.

We are also pleased to see new support for tertiary level placements through a new Commonwealth Prac Payment of $319.5 per week from 1 July 2025 and further support for apprentices, trainees and their employers in priority occupations from $3,000 to $5,000 and hiring incentives for priority occupation employers from $4,000 to $5,000 for 12 months from 1 July 2024. 

The additional practical support payment will reduce the financial stress and ‘placement poverty’ that many students experience when they are obtaining their qualifications, Child Care Super would like to see prac placements paid for by the government at the minimum award rate, but this is a solid step forward.

This budget demonstrates that the government understands the systemic issues facing the early childhood education sector and early childhood educators.