Regional Capitals Australia Welcomes Budget Reply

Regional Capitals Australia (RCA) welcomes the regional announcements from the Opposition in yesterday’s Budget reply, which aimed to increase the health, education, and welfare of all Australians.

Regional commitments during the speech included:

  • $200 million to fund regional and outer suburban campuses through the Building TAFE for the Future Fund, and
  • $13 million to support regional news and emergency broadcasting in areas affected by natural disasters.

In addition to these regional announcements, the Hon Bill Shorten also included the following population-based announcements in his Budget reply:

  • Education:
    • University places will be uncapped, meaning that regional campuses can grow according to demand with 200,000 extra university places available for students;
    • Access to preschool or kinder for every three-year-old and four-year-old in Australia for 15 hours a week, 40 weeks a year;
    • $14 billion to fund public schools.
  • Health
    • A national $2.3 billion Medicare Cancer Plan
      • $660 million allocated to eliminating out-of-pocket costs for diagnostic imaging
        • Up to 6 million free cancer scans
      • $433 million to cover specialist consultations for cancer patients over four years
        • Up to 3 million free specialist appointments
      • New MRI machines to be provided to communities, with each MRI machine that meets national standards covered by Medicare for cancer scans
      • Affordable medicine guarantee – every drug recommended by the independent export also be listed on the PBS
      • $1.8 billion to fund public hospitals
    • A cap on private health insurance premiums to a two per cent maximum increase per year for two years.

Opposition leader the Hon Bill Shorten said they would also offer dairy farmers greater support, restore the health of the Murray-Darling Basin and, like the Federal Government, invest in eliminating mobile phone black spots.

The Chair of Regional Capitals Australia, Cr Samantha McIntosh, said strong health and education programs that were located in the regions were critical to the future prosperity of regional Australia.

“We welcome the announcements made for regional Australia in last night’s Budget reply and look forward to hearing the Opposition’s plans to better connect the regions through important investments in regional airports, regional rail and roads,” Cr McIntosh said.

“We’re also keen to hear the Opposition’s position on programs that fund social amenity like the Regional Growth Fund and Building Better Regions Fund,” Cr McIntosh said.

“Growing the connectivity and liveability of regional capital cities will allow our members to continue to ease the squeeze on the major capitals, which has never been more important in a growing Australia that it is today,” Cr McIntosh concluded.