Senator the Hon. Fiona Nash
Minister for Regional Development
Minister for Regional Communications
Minister for Local Government and Territories
Deputy Leader of the Nationals
Senator for New South Wales
Rural, regional and remote Australia can apply for funding to build better regions under a new fund announced by Minister for Regional Development Fiona Nash today.
Speaking at the Rural Press Club in Victoria, Minister Nash said the economic case for investing in Australia’s regions was clear.
“Our regions allow our cities to exist,” Minister Nash said.
“Our regions supply the water, food, the gas and electricity which powers city households. Regional Australia supplies the milk which city people put on their breakfast, their cheese, butter and toast; the meat and vegetables they eat for dinner and the fruit and cream they have for dessert.
“Governments make huge, necessary investments in keeping our cities running. A Victorian Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics analysis found total Melbourne urban public transport operating costs in 2013-14 were almost $2 billion, with ticket fees recovering just 28 per cent of that.
“Our capital cities would grind to a halt within an hour if these investments ended. Of course these investments in the city are not seen as “bailouts” – they’re sensible ongoing investments, and this is the mindset which must be adopted to government investment in rural, regional and remote Australia.
“Investment in rural, regional and remote areas are necessary investments to keep Australia’s powerhouse running smoothly.”
Minister Nash said there were some key differences between the new Building Better Regions Fund and previous funds.
“Projects in major capital cities will not be eligible under the Building Better Regions guidelines. This is a Fund for rural, regional and remote communities.
“A brand new source of funding will be available for community projects – a Community Investments Stream. I realise regional Australia is made of more than bricks, mortar, roads and bridges. The Community Investments Stream might help expand a local festival, attract a theatre production or major sporting event to the region to bring more visitors to the town, or it might be leadership or business training for young locals.
“A new social benefit criteria will allow applicants to show how their project will make their region a more attractive place to live, or improve community connections for example, rather than being encouraged to list as many local ills as possible.
“Projects in remote and very remote areas will receive a loading on their project score, and also will not need to produce 1:1 matching funding. The Government will provide up to 75 per cent of the investment for remote and very remote projects.
“Also, projects will now be assessed against projects of similar size, so small community projects are not competing against huge projects worth tens of millions, for example.”
More information, and programme guidelines, are available at www.business.gov.au/bbrf
23 November 2016