Our regional communities and farmers remain at the core of Australia’s economy and identity.
Regional and rural communities have endured very difficult times – with droughts, floods, bushfires and the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.
The Morrison Government is committed to supporting farmers and communities as they rebuild and recover.
Our Government has invested more than $120 billion to develop Australia’s regions, ensuring they have the critical transport, industries, skills, water and communications infrastructure they need.
Our continued investment will help create 450,000 jobs over the next five years in Regional Australia through our plan to build Australia and strengthen our regions.
We will keep working to boost regional industries, grow regional economies and improve regional infrastructure and services.
REBUILDING REGIONAL ECONOMIES
Throughout the pandemic, businesses and workers in regional communities have been supported by the largest economic support measures in Australia’s history.
These include: JobKeeper; Cash Flow Boost payments; 50% wage subsidies for apprentices; the expanded Instant Asset Write Off; and COVID-19 Disaster Payments.
The COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund is providing critical support where it’s needed.
This includes supporting regional tourism and airlines, providing air freight support for agriculture exports and providing financial backing for regional zoos and aquariums.
Regional Australia is also being supported by: record investments for roads, rail and Inland Rail; over $8 billion in funding to build dams, pipelines and weirs; and a $5 billion fund for drought resilience.
The 2020-21 Budget provided an additional $2 billion for concessional loans for farmers and agricultural dependent businesses to help overcome the drought.
Recent floods have caused devastation throughout northern New South Wales and southern Queensland. The Coalition Government expects to spend over $6 billion in total on disaster relief and recovery as a result of these floods.
To help bushfire affected communities recover, the Government has allocated more than $2 billion to the National Bushfire Recovery Fund.
This is on top of the more than $700 million which has been spent on Disaster Recovery Payments, Disaster Recovery Allowance and other support.
Regional Development is also assisted through the Building Better Regions Fund. This is delivering tailored projects to help communities – from water recycling facilities to refreshed streetscapes.
The Government has invested $1.38 billion in the Building Better Regions Fund since November 2016, with almost 1,300 projects approved across the first five funding rounds, of which more than 700 have been completed.
As we continue to build for the future, the $7.1 billion Energy Security and Regional Development Plan and $2 billion Regional Accelerator Program will further boost regional Australia.
ENERGY SECURITY AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN
This year’s Budget includes a dedicated regions package – strengthening regional Australia and driving the growth of our economy into the future.
The Liberal and Nationals Government’s $7.1 billion eleven-year package will turbocharge regional economies, including four key regional hubs – Northern Territory, North and Central Queensland, the Pilbara, and the Hunter – with a focus on building next generation export hubs.
It will create new jobs and opportunities for Australians in regional communities, targeting strategic infrastructure projects that drive economic and jobs growth in existing and emerging industries. Funding will also focus on connecting infrastructure and developing supply chains to ensure long-term economic and national security.
ACCELERATING OUR REGIONS
The Regional Accelerator Program will invest $2 billion to drive economic growth and create more jobs in regional areas across Australia.
The funding targets investment to boost regional capacity in priority areas including manufacturing, agriculture, critical minerals, education and training, defence, supply chains and exports, and recycling.
The 2019-20 devastating bushfires required us to do everything possible to fight fires, protect lives, and support communities.
Over 8,000 Australian Defence Force Personnel were deployed. This included the first compulsory call-out of Reserve brigades in Australia’s history.
Their support included creating 240km of fire breaks, clearing 4,800km of roads, repairing 1,250km of fencing and supporting more than 500 evacuees.
Over $2.3 billion of Commonwealth funding has been provided (as at July 2021), including:
- Over 290,000 Australians receiving Disaster Recovery Payments and Disaster Recovery Allowance.
- Over 88,000 children being helped with education expenses with the Back-to-School support program.
- Over 3,300 volunteer firefighters receiving financial support.
- Over 21,400 small businesses receiving small business support grants.
- Over 2,940 farmers receiving primary producer grants.
- Over 4,950 properties being safely cleared.
- Significant support for mental health and counselling. (Over 6,640 people have accessed bushfire specific Medicare mental health items).
- Over $630 million in support for local economic recovery projects, Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants program and support for local councils.
This Government has delivered more than $11 billion in initiatives to respond to the drought since 2018-19. Our National Drought Response Plan includes:
- Immediate action for those affected. This includes Farm Household Allowance (including fortnightly payments for up to four years for every 10 year period). The Government also provides other support like rebates for water infrastructure, interest free loans, tax relief and rural financial counselling and charities.
- Support for wider communities. This has included an additional $1 million for economic stimulus for 180 Councils, plus more money for local roads and other infrastructure and schools and early learning centres.
- Long-term resilience and preparedness. The $5 billion Future Drought Fund will build the resilience of farmers and communities to deal with future droughts.
- Establishing 8 Innovation Hubs to connect farmers with drought resilience expertise and contribute to the development and adoption of drought resilient technologies and practices.
To support farmers through drought:
- Over 16,200 farmers have been assisted through Farm Household Allowance.
- Over 11,500 On-farm Emergency Water Infrastructure rebates have been approved.
- Over 57,000 households have been assisted through the Drought Community Support Initiative.
NATIONAL RECOVERY AND RESILIENCE AGENCY
The Morrison Government has established the National Recovery and Resilience Agency, to support local communities during the relief and recovery phases following major disasters.
It also provides advice to Government on policies and programs to mitigate the impact of future major disasters.
Eight out of Australia’s top ten exports are produced in regional, rural and remote areas. Australia is one of the world’s major suppliers of food, fibre, resources, energy and critical minerals.
Australia exports around 70% of its agricultural food production.
Australia’s exports have grown from over $307 billion in 2012-13 to over $458 billion in 2020-21.
Australia had a trade surplus of $89 billion in 2020-21 – our largest trade surplus ever.
Since 2013, Australian exporters have gained duty-free or preferential access to 2 billion more customers.
This includes landmark export agreements with Japan, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Peru, plus the 11 nations of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (between Australia, New Zealand and seven Pacific countries), as well as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership in the Asia-Pacific – the world’s largest free trade agreement.
New export agreements are being implemented with the United Kingdom and India, opening up preferential access to another 1.4 billion customers.
The gross value of agricultural production is forecast to rise to around $81 billion in 2021-22.
The Coalition Government is supporting the industry’s plan to lift agriculture, fisheries and forestry to a $100 billion industry by 2030.
Our plan is built on investments across 7 themes to support industry covering:
- Trade and Exports
- Supply Chains
- Water and Infrastructure
- Innovation and Research
- Human Capital
In the 2022-23 Budget, $127.4 million was provided to support export systems that slash unnecessary red tape and help exporters get their products to markets more quickly and support jobs in regional Australia. This is in addition to the $328.4 million committed to in the 2020-21 Budget in the Coalition Government’s Busting Congestion for Agricultural Exporters package.
In the 2022-23 Budget we delivered over $600 million in measures to boost the resilience of Australia’s agricultural, fisheries and forestry industries. This includes over $90 million to strengthen Australia’s biosecurity and over $220 million to help farmers look after our land, soils and environment.
To help farmers with labour shortages during the pandemic, the National Cabinet resumed the Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme and is delivering an Australian Agriculture Visa.
We have committed more than $8 billion for dams, weirs and pipelines through the National Water Grid Fund.
We have also committed to the construction of 74 water infrastructure projects across the country, including the Hells Gates Dam. The Hells Gates will turn the Burdekin region into an agricultural powerhouse. It is expected to support more than 3,000 regional jobs and generate up to $6.0 billion of gross regional product during operation.
This additional funding will deliver increased water security and grow our critical agriculture sector.
Around $1 billion is being invested in Landcare between 2018 and 2023.
This includes Land Partnerships, to protect our threatened species, restore wetlands, and improve soil health on farms.
Landcare delivers practical actions on the ground in partnership with local communities and environmental groups.
REGIONAL ROADS AND RAIL
Our record $120 billion investment in infrastructure includes major road and rail upgrades to better connect regional communities.
The 1,700 km Inland Rail project will change the way freight is moved between Melbourne and Brisbane, while boosting local economies and jobs.
Other important regional passenger and freight rail projects include: upgraded passenger rail lines across Victoria; the Beerburrum to Nambour Rail Upgrade in Queensland; the Gawler Rail Upgrade in South Australia; and Tasmanian freight rail upgrades.
To improve local roads, we are investing more in the Roads to Recovery, Road Safety, Black Spot, Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity, Targeted Road Safety Works, Remote Roads Upgrade Pilot and Bridges Renewal programs.
Through our Roads of Strategic Importance initiative we are upgrading key freight routes to help agriculture and mining exporters and improve safety on key roads.
In addition, the Northern Australia Roads Program is delivering upgrades to high priority roads essential to the movement of people and freight to support the North’s economic development.
Aviation was one of the industries hit early by COVID-19.
Through the Domestic Aviation Network Support and Regional Airline Network Support, the Government has supported more than 1.8 million passengers to continue to travel, including essential workers in health care and other front line services.
More than 99% of premises across Australia are now able to connect to NBN high-speed broadband.
Businesses in 127 Business Fibre Zones across regional Australia are eligible to access speeds up to 1 gigabit per second. This will significantly uplift the digital capability of small and medium sized businesses.
Our $480 million upgrade of NBN Fixed Wireless and Satellite networks will ensure even better broadband services for up to one million Australians in regional, remote and peri-urban Australia.
In Government, Labor didn’t fix a single black spot or deliver a single tower. By contrast, the Coalition Government has funded more than 1,300 mobile base stations across Australia, with more than 1,000 of these already switched on.
We have invested a further $811 million in the 2022-23 Budget in the Connecting Regional Australia Initiative which will improve mobile coverage on up to 8,000 km of regional roads and adjacent households, businesses and tourist hotspots.
We have also announced $28 million for 66 projects to address mobile blackspots in areas on the urban fringe of our major cities. A further $78.5 million has been committed for future investments to improve mobile coverage and connectivity in outer urban and urban fringe areas under the Connecting Regional Australia initiative.
RURAL AND REGIONAL HEALTH
Australians living in rural and regional Australia have access to new services including new regional cancer centres and more doctors, nurses and allied health professionals.
The 2022-23 Budget invests an additional $296.5 million in the 10 Year Stronger Rural Health Strategy. The Stronger Rural Health Strategy has already attracted 1,300 additional GPs and 1,200 additional nurses and 2,500 allied health professionals to work in regional and remote areas.
Our goal is to deliver 3,000 more doctors and 3,000 more nurses and allied health professionals over 10 years.
The Government has increased the Rural Bulk Billing incentive from 150%, to between 160% and 190% depending on remoteness. This is providing a higher bulk billing incentive for around 12,000 GPs in regional areas.
In 2020, to help deal with the pandemic, more than 80 General Practitioner-led Respiratory Clinics were established in rural and remote areas.
Over 16,000 medical students have trained in regional and rural areas through the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program.
More than 100 million Telehealth services have been provided to nearly 17 million Australians (between March 2020 and February 2022). This rapid expansion of Telehealth particularly helps regional patients.
The Coalition Government has delivered needs-based funding for the first time in Australia.
Since we came to Government in 2013, funding across all schools has increased by 94.4%, with the biggest Commonwealth funding increase to government schools, growing by 113%.
Commonwealth funding for students in regional and remote Australia is growing from $4.4 billion in 2018 to an estimated $7.3 billion in 2029.
To see what long term funding is being provided to your local government school, go to: https://www.dese.gov.au/school-funding/estimator
Information current as at April 2022