Regional Capitals Australia (RCA) tonight has welcomed the Turnbull Government’s 2016-17 budget that signified their commitment to connect regional capital cities to each other and metropolitan cities, through both rail and roads funding.
RCA Chair, Mayor Shane Van Styn said the $594 million commitment to secure land along the proposed Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail line was a step in the right direction to grow regional Australia.
“The government is also continuing to increase connectivity for regional areas through road projects,” he said.
The key new and continuing funding allocations in the budget were:
- $400 million: Midland Highway in Tasmania
- $35 million: Beef Roads – Queensland, Western Australia, Northern Territory
- $100 million: Northern Australia roads in Queensland, Western Australia, Northern Territory
- $1.5 billion: ($345 million regional allocation) in infrastructure funding for Victoria.
The government also continues to invest in the Bruce Highway safety upgrades.
Mayor Van Styn also welcomed the continuation of the National Stronger Regions Fund highlighted in the budget.
“While the National Stronger Regions Fund highlighted in the budget is not a new funding, many regional capital cities have received grants and many more have applied for funding in the previous round of grants, the last of which closed last month,” he said.
The NSRF was announced prior to the 2013 election, and according to the budget highlights the fund is still on track to be exhausted over the original five-year projection.
The fund is aimed at addressing the disadvantaged and continues to be accessible to all of Australia’s regions, not just regional Australia.
With an emphasis on jobs and growth, the 2016-17 budget highlights the government will also continue to invest in Northern Australia through the $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.
“We hope the larger changes to tax cuts for small businesses, and ongoing funding for health, education and youth will stimulate job growth and boost productivity in regional capital cities,” Mayor Van Styn said.
“Regional capital cities are growing, many faster than the national average. We need long-term, forward-thinking planning and investment to support smart, powerful and innovative regional capital cities,” he said.
“The budget papers also indicated a new focus on regional development in the future. We expect that we will see a clear role for regional capital cities and associated investment when the new regional development plan in is launched in 2017,” Van Styn added.
Regional Capitals Australia Secretariat
P: 03 9614 7302
M: 0422 067 858
About Regional Capitals Australia
Regional Capitals Australia (RCA) is an alliance of regional capital local governments across the nation representing Australia’s regional cities. Our mission is to provide a formal platform to champion the continued growth and sustainable development of regional capitals around the nation. To learn more about our work visit http://www.regionalcapitalsaustralia.org.