RCA Chair Cr Daniel Moloney said the budget included two new initiatives for regional Australia, the Growing Regions Program and the Precincts and Partnerships Program which are replacement programs, in addition to funding for regional telecommunications, roads and housing.
“This budget is a welcome step to help regional cities access better telecommunications, upgrade essential roads and deliver more regional housing” Cr Moloney said.
Key initiatives announced that impact Regional Capital Cities include:
Regional Funding Programs
Two new regional programs totalling $1 billion:
- Growing Regions Program: new opportunities for regional local councils and not-for-profit organisations through an annual open, competitive grants process; and
- Regional Precincts and Partnerships Program: to support community and place-based investment in rural and regional Australia, through both a competitive grants program and collaborative partnerships program.
These programs will replace the Building Better Regions Fund (round 6 projects will not be funded).
City and Regional Deals
- Funding will continue for the existing City and Regional Deals, including $80 million to support projects in the Albury-Wodonga region.
- Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Fund: $250 million for Phase 4 of the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program to support local councils.
- Road Safety Program: $3 billion (total nationwide) to continue through to mid-2025.
- Powering the Regions Fund (from 2022–23) with $1.9 billion allocated to assist industries, regional Australia and communities with the transition to net zero emissions.
- NBN Upgrades: 660 extra homes in regional Australia will receive full fibre upgrades;
- Mobile Base Stations: $400 million (over 5 years from 2022–23) to support the roll out of mobile base stations to improve highway and underserviced community mobile coverage;
- Regional Connectivity Program: $200 million (over 5 years from 2022–23) to fund the delivery of telecommunications infrastructure to improve digital connectivity in regional, rural and remote Australia; and
- Mobile Black Spots Program: $40 million (over 3 years from 2022–23) to implement commitments for new mobile infrastructure to improve mobile coverage and reception quality across Australia.
Skills and Training
- Vocational Education and Training: $921.7 million (over 5 years from 2022–23) to address skills shortages including providing 480,000 fee-free Technical and Further Education (TAFE) and vocational education places in industries and regions with skills shortages.
Disaster and Resilience
- Resilience State Government: $200 million per year (from 2023–24) to co-contribute in support of resilience projects nominated by the state and territory governments to strengthen Australia’s disaster readiness and resilience; and
- Resilience Local Government: $30.4 million in 2022–23 to implement disaster resilience initiatives across 30 local government areas.
Regional Health (specific to the regions)
- Increasing local care options: $143.3 million (over 4 years) to support access to healthcare in rural and regional areas by investing in primary care services, training, workforce incentives and trials for innovative models of care.
- Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee: 10,000 new homeowners each year supported to buy a home.
- National Reconstruction Fund: $15 billion to finance projects that expand our industrial base, diversify our economy, create sustainable, well-paid jobs, and grow our regional centres.
- Co-investments in 7 priority areas: resources; agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors; transport; medical science; renewables and low emission technologies; defence capability; and enabling capabilities.
“We look forward to working with the Federal Government on the development of the guidelines for these new regional funding programs and we have already undertaken consultation with our members to help inform this process” Cr Moloney explained.
“We congratulate the Federal Government on the release their first Budget at a time when our communities and businesses are under a significant level of stress from cost of living, access to workforce and many are experiencing the ongoing impacts of major weather events” Cr Moloney concluded.