Ministers for the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities The Hon Michael McCormack MP Deputy Prime MinisterMinister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie Minister for Regional ServicesMinister for SportMinister for Local Government and Decentralisation The Hon Alan Tudge MP Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population The Hon Sussan Ley MP Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories The Hon Andrew Broad MP Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister The Hon Scott Buchholz MP Assistant Minister for Roads and Transport The Hon Barnaby Joyce MPFormer Deputy Prime MinisterFormer Minister for Infrastructure and Transport The Hon Dr John McVeigh MPFormer Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government The Hon Keith Pitt MPFormer Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister The Hon Damian Drum MPFormer Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister Senator the Hon Fiona Nash Former Minister for Regional DevelopmentFormer Minister for Local Government and Territories The Hon Darren Chester MP Former Minister for Infrastructure and TransportFormer A/g Minister for Regional DevelopmentFormer A/g Minister for Local Government and Territories The Hon Warren Truss MP Former Deputy Prime Minister Former Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development The Hon Paul Fletcher MP Former Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities The Hon Jamie Briggs MP Former Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development

ANAO gives Coalition's National Stronger Regions Fund tick of approval

Media Release


19 December 2016

  • ANAO finds NSRF Round 2 was well run and “consistent with the program's objective”
  • “The funding decisions and their bases were transparent… regions with low socio-economic circumstances and high unemployment received priority.”
  • Report found there was no political bias

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report into round two of the National Stronger Regions Fund (NSRF) has given the Fund two thumbs up.

The ANAO described the programme as effective, said project applications had merit, found eligibility requirements were consistently applied and importantly, there was no political bias.

Minister for Regional Development Fiona Nash welcomed the ANAO report and said the Coalition Government's program had robust guidelines and the highest standards of probity.

“Today's ANAO report gives the Coalition Government a big tick of approval in program design, implementation and delivery,” Minister Nash said.

“The ANAO has confirmed every single project funded under the NSRF met the program guidelines and deserved to be funded.

“The now ceased NSRF has delivered vital community infrastructure to regional and disadvantaged communities across Australia.

“Over three rounds, the NSRF is investing $632 million into 229 projects such as sporting facilities, community hubs, health and education centres, airport upgrades and a range of other vital social and economic projects in disadvantaged areas.”

“A previous ANAO report was critical of Labor Minister Catherine King and her administration of the Regional Development Australia Fund.”

ANAO report into Labor's RDAF program:

  • “…the records of the reasons for funding decisions taken contrary to panel advice generally provided little insight as to their basis and made no reference to the published selection criteria. This situation was particularly significant given that such decisions were largely at the expense of projects located in electorates held by the Coalition.” (Page 18, 19)
  • “None of the recorded bases for the 74 decisions (made by the Minister) at odds with the panel's advice directly referenced the selection criteria.” (Page 27)
  • “Nearly half of the funding awarded (48 per cent) went to applications that been categorised as other than ‘Recommended for Funding’. In total, 74 decisions were taken by the Minister over rounds three and four that diverged from the advice of the panel. (132)
  • It is difficult to see such a result as being consistent with the transparent, competitive merit‐based selection process outlined in the published program guidelines. (133)

“The Coalition has now established the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) to replace the NSRF. The BBRF will invest in projects exclusively outside the major capital cities, and for the first time, will also fund local community events and capacity building projects,” Minister Nash said.

The guidelines for BBRF Round 1 were released in November and can be found at

Quotes from the ANAO report into NSRF Round 2:

Page 7: Design and implementation was “largely effective”; “attracted sufficient applications of merit and the eligibility requirements were appropriately and consistently applied”.

Page 18: “The funding decisions and their bases were transparent in the departmental records.”

Page 20: “Consistent with government policy, regions with low socio-economic circumstances and high unemployment received priority.”

Page 21: “The merit criteria were largely consistent with the program's objective.”

Page 38: “The ANAO's analysis of the award of funding in round two did not identify any evident systematic political bias.”