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REGIONAL OVERVIEW
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REGIONAL OVERVIEW

The 2017-18 Budget outlines the Australian Government's commitment to regional Australia. Investment in regions is designed to continue to help with creating new jobs, maintaining quality of life opportunities and driving economic growth.

The Budget statement outlines over 450 measures that the Government argues will benefit regional Australia through specific health, education, employment, defence, infrastructure, telecommunications, agriculture and water resources initiatives.

Some of the key initiatives are as follows:

Regional Growth Fund

A new Regional Growth Fund will provide $472 million over four years for construction of community infrastructure and projects that support economic development (Budget Paper No 2: p136)

Stronger Community Fund of $27 million to support small capital projects that deliver social benefits to local communities (p136).

The new regional growth fund will support transformational projects in regions undergoing structural adjustment. This commitment adds to the existing Regional Jobs and Investment Packages, City Deals, Building Better Regions Fund and various structural adjustment initiatives in place for specific regions around the country.

The regional growth fund including $272m for transformational projects in regions specifically undergoing structural adjustment.

Key Regional Transport Infrastructure

Inland rail from Melbourne to Brisbane to be built including $8.4b for delivery of the new rail and upgrades, and a public private partnership for the challenging Toowoomba to Brisbane section to share the major source of project risk.

Upgrades to passenger rail in Victoria as part of a $10b National Rail Program, and $20m of feasibility studies for other areas suggesting the Government is serious about regional cities as part of the solution for population growth in cities.

National Housing Infrastructure Fund

The NHIF will provide $1 billion over 5 years to support local governments through a range of finance critical infrastructure including transport links, utility infrastructure and site remediation works. The Fund is designed to help address infrastructure bottlenecks that impede development in order to speed up and increase the supply of new housing.

The $1 Billion Fund will provide local governments with the opportunity to access up to:

  • $600 million in concessional loans;
  • $225 million in equity investments; and
  • $175 million in grants.

Payments will be made to local governments through State and territory governments.

Housing

There is a raft of new measures aimed at making housing more available and more affordable. The government has said that the NAHA (National Affordable Housing Agreement) was a failure, and has instead proposed putting in place a new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement which will maintain the Commonwealth’s current funding of over $1.3 billion a year.

Skills and Training

The Government will provide $1.5 billion over four years from 2017-18 to establish a permanent Skilling Australians Fund (the Fund) to support the skilling of Australian workers. The Fund will prioritise apprenticeships and traineeships for occupations in high demand, occupations with a reliance on skilled migration pathways, industries and sectors of future growth, trade apprenticeships, and apprenticeships and traineeships in regional and rural areas. The Fund, when matched with funding from the States, will support up to 300 000 more apprentices, trainees, and higher level skilled Australians over the next four years.

Community Health

Commonwealth Home Support Program Funding Arrangements (Budget Paper No 2: p123) This measure provides $5.5 billion over two years from 2018-19 to extend the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) and Regional Assessment Services (RAS) funding arrangements. The CHSP and RAS contribute to essential home support services, such as meals (Meals on Wheels), personal care, nursing, domestic assistance, home maintenance, and community transport, to assist older people to keep living independently in their own home. Funding for these programs has already been included in the forward estimates.



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