SENATOR THE HON. FIONA NASH
MINISTER FOR REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT, REGIONAL COMMUNICATIONS, AND RURAL HEALTH
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
A re-elected Coalition Government will re-focus its billion dollar National Stronger Regions Fund (NSRF) to be eligible only to regional, rural and remote Australia and be broadened to include small community groups.
Minister for Regional Development Fiona Nash said the new fund – to be known as the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) – will focus on regional, rural and remote areas, and will ensure that smaller councils in rural areas will not have to compete with major capital city councils for funding.
“It’s very hard for smaller and more remote community and volunteer groups or small councils to compete for funding against big capital city councils who have the ability to employ consultants to write grant applications”, Minister Nash said.
“It also makes sense to assess small projects against small projects, medium-sized projects against medium-sized, and major projects against major projects. A $500,000 project should not be competing with a $20 million project for funding.
“We will introduce three infrastructure project categories to ensure projects of a similar size will be ranked against each other and small projects will not compete with major projects for funding.”
The BBRF will also create jobs and drive economic growth in regional areas through investments in two streams: infrastructure projects and community investments.
The majority of the fund is expected to go to infrastructure, however the new fund will, for the first time, provide an opportunity for small community groups and volunteer organisations to access funding where they can’t contribute matching money themselves.
“The BBRF also recognises that while capital investment is critical, it’s not just buildings and roads that grow strong regional communities. The community stream of BBRF will help build local leadership and community projects which have previously been ineligible. Local communities will choose their own priorities to grow their local communities and can look to government for partnership funding to do so”, Minister Nash said.
“Examples of local community projects could include funding to expand a local food and wine festival or attracting a major event to bring more tourists and business to a town. It could be to develop a strategic economic or jobs plan for a region, or leadership training for local young leaders.
“As Regional Development Minister, my vision is to help build the regional communities our children and grandchildren either want to stay in or come back to.
“We don’t want to lose the talents of our young people to the capital cities, and creating regional, rural and remote communities they’d love to live in is one way to make sure that this doesn’t happen.”
Building Better Regions will add to the success of the Coalition Government’s $1 billion National Stronger Regions Fund and will run rounds from the existing funding. NSRF rounds 1 and 2 combined allocated $505 million to 162 projects across the nation.