Multi-billion dollar shake up for Australia’s regions

Australia's regions have been promised and allocated billions of dollars in last week's Annual Budget to boost local economies.

Image: Artiom P/flickr

Australia’s regions are in for a massive spending spree in the next financial year, as the federal government aims to invest significant capital into boosting economic growth in the nation’s vast, non-metropolitan areas.

In the form of the Regional Ministerial Budget Statement Regional Australia – Driving Out Economy 2017-18, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development, Senator the Hon Fiona Nash have laid out financial goals for 450 Budget measures for the regions.

These include health, education, employment, defence, infrastructure, telecommunications, agriculture, water resources and other portfolios.

According to the report, some of these measures include:

  • an additional $200 million provided to the Building Better Regions Fund to support the construction of community infrastructure and build the capacity of regional areas
  • the establishment of the Regional Growth Fund providing $472 million for regional infrastructure projects
  • $220 million Regional Jobs and Investment Packages

This is only on top of the roughly $70 billion that’s been allocated in the Budget toward transport infrastructure, which received high praise from the Australasian Railway Association as well as local and state governments.

It’s a significant investment that affects up to 3.8 million people who are employed in the regions, and have been persistently calling for a leg up from the federal government to modernise and update infrastructure and improve telecommunications technology.

“These investments mean that our roads are safer and more secure, and that industries and individuals are better connected to markets, services, employment and their communities,” the report said.

Minister for Regional Development, Senator Fiona Nash, said regional Australia is a key driver of the Australian economy.

“Regional Australia is responsible for 67 per cent of our exports and 45 per cent of the domestic tourism market,” Senator Nash said.

She said in addition, most food production and all production of the gas and electricity that powers our households occur in regional Australia.

“Our cities rely on regional Australia to support their way of life,” Senator Nash said.

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