The Deputy Prime Minister and Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, has welcomed more than 400 significant measures delivered by the Regional Australia Ministerial Taskforce for rural Australia in this year’s Federal Budget.
The Regional Australian Ministerial Taskforce was established to ensure a whole of government approach to regional policy, bringing together, key portfolios of regional development, agriculture and water resources, industry, health, education, infrastructure, resources and communications.
Mr Joyce said that the initiatives include more than half a billion dollars in investment and would create many benefits for rural Australians now and into the future.
“We know that regional Australians care about the health of their families, the education of their children, and the ability to access the benefits of technology,” Mr Joyce said.
“Regional communities also want to see local investment that drives economic growth, creates jobs and builds strong sustainable regions into the future.
“The Taskforce has considered several new initiatives for this year's Budget and will continue to ensure the Government has a coordinated approach to regional policy.”
Key projects funded in the Budget include:
An additional $200 million for the Building Better Regions Fund, (BBRF), bringing the total funding now available in this fund to nearly $500 million (new funding of $200 million and existing funding of $297 million);
$272.2 million for a new fund to invest in major regional projects to unlock the economic potential of regional areas across Australia. Under this fund, the Australian Government's contribution to a project will be more than $10 million;
$9.1 million for Medicare funded psychological services via telehealth to give Australians in rural and remote locations access to Medicare funded psychological services via telehealth for the first time. This will remove long-standing barriers to mental health support and ensure that help will be available to those who need it;
$15 million for regional study hubs which will establish up to eight community-owned regional study hubs to improve access to higher education for regional, rural and remote Australia; and
$24 million for Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships over four years which will support 1,200 regional and remote students to undertake STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) studies.
Another commitment in the Budget includes a Plan for Manufacturing in Regional Australia, which draws together the Government's initiatives to grow Australia's manufacturing in our regions. These measures create the conditions for investment in manufacturing industries that generate employment in rural, regional and outer suburban areas.
Also announced was the Process for Public Sector decentralisation, which will move Australian Government jobs from Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne and will benefit regional Australia through the creation of local jobs and career paths, increased economic diversification and the stimulation of economic growth. This process has already begun with the recent move of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to Armidale.
For more information on 2017-18 Budget measures, visit: www.budget.gov.au
For other projects being delivered in your region, visit: http://investment.infrastructure.gov.au/