Beefed-up regional connectivity to drive nation’s COVID recovery
An injection of $130.4 million in the federal Budget will improve connectivity in regional, rural, and remote communities, further driving Australia’s regionally-led recovery from the COVID-19 recession.
Announcing the significant investment with National Party colleagues at Beef Australia 2021, Regional Communications Minister, Mark Coulton said the Government’s commitment to improving connectivity across regional Australia is reaping rewards for the whole nation.
“We have seen how improving digital connectivity in the bush drives economic growth for the nation and by investing a further $130 million in the Regional Connectivity Program, the Government is doubling-down on existing measures.
“The pandemic has shown many Australians the value of the regions, both as economic powerhouses and as desirable destinations to live, work, and raise a family,” Mr Coulton said.
“In order to ensure regional Australians can continue to do the heavy lifting the nation asks of them, the Government recognises – and is investing in – the need for improved connectivity.”
“The 2021-22 Budget includes $105.8 million funding for Round 2 of the hugely popular Regional Connectivity Program, $45.6 million of which is quarantined for projects in northern Australia – a vital strategic growth area.
“RCP is proving so popular, the Budget also provides a further $24.6 million to fund additional shovel-ready Round 1 projects.”
Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack said the investment, which forms an important element of the Government’s Regional Budget Package, highlights how important the regions are to all Australians.
“These measures are particularly timely with Australians rushing to regional and rural communities in a fashion not seen in decades,” Mr McCormack said.
“With more Australians recognising the benefits of a regional life, the Government continues to make significant investments in mobile and broadband infrastructure to support this trend.”
Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, Keith Pitt said the commitment recognises the crucial role digital connectivity plays in northern Australia’s economic development.
“It shouldn’t matter whether you’re in Cairns, Kununurra, Cloncurry or Canberra, we should all have the same access to digital connectivity,” Minister Pitt said.
“Round 1 of the Regional Connectivity Program demonstrates the opportunities are there with 26 projects totalling more than $24 million already announced,” Mr Pitt said.
“Earmarking funding for northern Australia under the next round of the Program will ensure we can continue to deliver new telecommunications projects as part of our commitment to unlock the huge potential of our country’s north.”
The Budget 2021-22 investment in RCP brings the Government’s commitments to improve digital connectivity infrastructure in regional, rural, and remote Australia to over $600 million.
Further details will be published in the 2021-22 Budget documents.