Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, has welcomed the Australian Government’s renewed focus on decentralisation to the regions in the 2020 Budget.
The Government has committed further funding for more decentralisation opportunities, from regional tourism-related projects to a strengthening of communications in the bush, extra funding for rural healthcare and more community grant programs.
The New England will also receive $12.1 million in further funding from the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program, in addition to $11.8 million already rolling out across the electorate under this fund.
The announcements follow Mr Joyce’s vocal and continued advocacy on the decentralisation policy to deliver more opportunities for growth, development and expansion in rural and regional areas.
He highlighted his successful relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) from the Canberra capital to Armidale as a prime example.
“Critics said moving the APVMA to a place like Armidale would never happen, it would never work, but it did and did so successfully,” Mr Joyce said.
“It’s now providing jobs and a workforce that wasn’t there before and that can only be a good thing for the local economy in Armidale.
“I’m sure there were plenty of people in England during the early years who were against establishing a colony in Australia, or later making Canberra our nation’s capital but that still happened too.
“If governments and leaders listened to all the naysayers, nothing would ever get done.
“If we want more organisations, not only government but the private sector ones as well, moving to areas like the New England, then we need extra investment like the Budget is delivering to lay the foundations for our local communities to grow and incentivise more business.”
Budget announcements to encourage decentralisation include an additional $200 million in grants to extend the successful Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) for a fifth round, including $100 million for community infrastructure priorities and $100 million dedicated for tourism-related infrastructure. Guidelines are still being finalised for this round but applications are expected to open before the end of this year.
$125 million is being provided to deliver clinical trials in regional locations, through the Medical Research Future Fund, improving access to potentially life-saving medical innovations and helping make the regions an attractive career move.
$50.3 million has also been announced to enhance the rural training pipeline through the long-standing Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program
An additional $30.3 million will be invested in the Regional Connectivity Program to support telecommunications projects developed by local communities and providers to benefit regions. This will enable a broader range of regional communities and businesses to leverage the benefits of improved digital connectivity, including in key sectors such as agriculture, tourism, health and education.
A further $41.0 million is being allocated for a Research and Development Program to continue the Government’s regional decentralisation agenda, including $35 million over two years from 2020-21 for the Securing Raw Materials Program which will enable the Government to provide matched funding to support research and development activities associated with securing a reliable and commercially viable raw material supply for businesses that relocate to regional Australia from a metropolitan area. Funding also includes $6 million over three years for the Regional Cooperative Research Centres Project which will provide one-off grant funding to eligible businesses for short-term industry-led collaborations to tackle issues in prominent regional industries.
An additional $28.1 million will be provided to extend the Stronger Communities Programme, including in the New England with $150,000 in grants of between $2,500 and $20,000 to community organisations and local governments for small capital projects that deliver social benefits for local communities.
The government will also invest $5.7 million in a new Building Strong, Resilient Regional Leaders initiative, targeting emerging and current regional leaders in our communities and $5 million for the Regional Australia Institute’s research program and promotion of regional living.