Investing for growth in our regions

Media Release

BUDGET INFRA 01/2017

09 May 2017

Joint release with:

Barnaby Joyce

Deputy Prime Minister
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources

The Turnbull-Joyce Government is investing in regional Australia by delivering infrastructure and communications that will drive economic growth and secure more and better paying jobs.

Regional Australia is critical to driving the Government's plan to drive economic growth to secure more and better paying jobs which will encourage investment, facilitate innovation and provide vital infrastructure.

The Government is investing $75 billion in infrastructure funding and financing from 2017–18 to 2026–27 for critical airport, road, and rail infrastructure projects.

In one of the biggest investments ever seen in regional Australia, the Government will fund the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project with an additional $8.4 billion. The Government will also establish a $472 million Regional Growth Fund that will deliver critical infrastructure to ensure regional areas do not miss out on Australia's growth story.

The Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project will see this nationally significant freight transport project connect our regions to domestic and global markets by 2024. Connected regional communities will be able to move goods to ports more efficiently and take advantage of the tremendous opportunities offered in Asia and beyond.

The Government will connect regional centres to our capital cities, with faster, more reliable rail services, with regional Australia getting its fair share of the new $10 billion National Rail Program. A further $500 million will deliver upgrades to the regional rail network in Victoria.

The Roads to Recovery Program has been secured with $4.4 billion from 2013–14 to 2020–21 committed to the construction, repair and upgrade of local roads. The Coalition Government will also continue to fund the Black Spot Program with $685 million committed from 2013–14 to 2020–21 to deliver improvements such as safety barriers and street lighting to sections of dangerous road that have a crash history.

This Budget delivers on our election commitment to establish a $4 billion Regional Investment Corporation, a national body to streamline and speed up the approval of farm concessional loans and administer the National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility.

Affordable and reliable water supplies are key to growth in regional Australia. This Government is already making the most significant investment in water infrastructure in Australian history to drive regional investment, agricultural production and jobs.

The $500 million National Water Infrastructure Development Fund and the $2 billion National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility are in place to incentivise state and territory governments to fast track priority projects that will support the growth of our agricultural industries and regional communities.

Under the Regional Growth Fund, $200 million in additional funding will increase the Government's commitment to the Building Better Regions Fund to almost $500 million, supporting more projects across rural, regional and remote Australia. In addition, a $272 million fund will be established to drive major transformational projects of more than $10 million to unlock opportunity and potential in the regions.

Regional communities will also receive investment through a third round of the Stronger Communities Program which helps fund small capital projects in local communities, across Australia.

The Coalition Government's Regional Jobs and Investment Package is investing $220 million over four years from 2016–17 to help diversify regional economies, stimulate economic growth and deliver sustainable employment in ten pilot regions: Tropical North Queensland, Bowen Basin, Wide Bay Burnett, NSW North Coast, NSW South Coast, Upper Spencer Gulf, Latrobe Valley, Goulburn Valley, Geelong, and Regional Tasmania.

A $9 million investment will see rural and remote Australians for the first time be able to access psychology services covered by Medicare through teleconferencing.

The Government has also resumed the indexation of Financial Assistance Grants to councils, which results in an extra $836.5 million provided over the forward estimates.

The Coalition's Mobile Black Spot Program continues to roll out with over 140 new base stations already live and almost 250 due to be live by June 30, 2017. The Budget allocates $155.9 million towards the program over the forward estimates, for a total program spend of $220 million from 2015–16 to 2019–20.

Similarly, the regional NBN roll out, already 75 per cent completed or under construction, continues in 2017–18 with the Sky Muster II satellite now live and the fixed wireless rollout due to be completed by the end of 2018.

The 2017–18 Budget builds on the record investment the Coalition Government has already made since coming to office to create stronger and more prosperous regions, including:

  • $50 billion infrastructure investment program.
  • The $6 billion White Paper on Developing Northern Australia.
  • The $4 billion Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.
  • The $632 million National Stronger Regions Fund.
  • Investing $5.2 billion to connect regional households and businesses to the National Broadband Network.
  • More than $1 billion in drought assistance and support to farmers and rural communities experiencing hardship.
  • $220 million to continue fixing thousands of mobile black spots under the Mobile Black Spot Program all of which goes to rural and regional areas.

Regional Australia is a key driver of the Australian economy, responsible for 67 per cent of our exports and 45 per cent of the domestic tourism market. In addition, most food production and all production of the gas and electricity that powers our households, occurs in regional Australia. Our cities rely on regional Australia to support their way of life.