Usually by the day of the government’s annual budget, anything worth knowing has been leaked.

But this year the government has been very tight-lipped with a document that will form one of the pillars of its election campaign — except for the detail that they’re expecting to deliver a better-than-$4bn surplus.

But there will no doubt be some goodies for small caps, but so far most of the details we have could turn out to be bitter pills.

This is what we know:


Aside from the cash splash for Snowy Hydro 2.0 ($1.4bn) and the Tassie hydro ‘Battery of the Nation’ scheme and Marinus Link interconnector to the mainland ($56m) there isn’t much else going on in the energy sector.

The Liberals have allocated $10m for a study on electricity generation in north Queensland, even though there are more than a dozen projects in that part of the state, and 12 gas, pumped hydro and coal projects were shortlisted for government backing — none owned by small caps.

This could be a bitter pill for private companies already building power plants, as they go up against government backed-projects.

In Queensland, Genex (ASX:GNX) is building its 250MW Kidston pumped storage hydro about 300km northwest of Townsville, which it says will provide coal-like baseload power from its solar and wind farms.

Also in the area is Windlab’s (WND) Kennedy project, a wind, solar and storage farm still in development phase which it hopes to get started by July.


The new Australian Space Agency will get its $9.8m for 2019-20.

Domestic space companies have been watching the growth of this industry in Australia since the agency was set up last year with funding from the government and CSIRO.

High-tech parts manufacturers such as Quickstep (ASX:QHL) could also benefit, and space and defence company Electro-Optic Systems (ASX:EOS) has been watching developments closely.

That could benefit existing ASX-listed space stocks such as Sky and Space Global (ASX:SAS), which is launching a fleet of miniature “nano-satellites” into orbit by early 2019 to provide text, call and instant message communication in regions along the equatorial belt that do not have good connectivity.

Luxembourg satellite maker Kleos Space (ASX:KSS) could also benefit with its data-gathering satellites that allows countries to “guard borders, protect assets and save lives by delivering global activity-based intelligence and geolocation as a service”.


The government is promising $220m for heart disease research and $496m for Victorian cancer research, facilities and services.

Companies with heart disease treatments in their portfolios include anti-baldness company Cellmid (ASX:CDY), and US-based Reva Medical (ASX:RVA).

On the cancer side, Rhythm Biosciences (ASX:RHY) is developing its colon cancer diagnostic in Victoria but the extra money could encourage other biotechs to set up trials in the state, such as Zelda (ASX:ZLD) which is starting to look at cancer and cannabis.

Corporate cops

Everyone will need to dot their i’s and cross their t’s — or at least that is what financial regulators ASIC and APRA want you to believe with the $600m cash boost they’re getting following the banking Royal Commission fallout.

In reality, it may just be fintechs who need to watch out for those agencies.

Buy-now-pay-later companies such as Afterpay (ASX:APT) and Zip Co (ASX:Z1P) were largely given a free pass by the Senate inquiry into the sector in February, although they may remain within eyesight of beefed up regulators.

Proposed new rules for initial coin offers (ICOs), overseen by ASIC, have been rejected as “fettering innovation”.

But given crackdowns on crypto exchanges allegedly facilitating organised crime and companies such as Byte Power (ASX:BPG) which have seen ICOs stopped already, companies operating in that sector — DigitalX (ASX:DCC), IOT Group (ASX:IOT) for example — may see the screws tightened a little further this year by cashed up regulators.


Any company making less than $10m in revenue a year — that’s most micro caps — will be able to deduct the cost of assets worth less than $25,000.

It’s not much, but for cash-strapped explorers and biotechs it could be a useful drop.