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Budget Initiatives to Help Strengthen Regional Australia

The recently announced Federal Budget for 2020-21, provides a range of initiatives to strengthen regional Australia, and to support the unique way that regions have been impacted by the events of 2020.

The initiatives announced in the budget include:

A further $200 million towards a fifth round of the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF), including:

  • $100 million for broader community infrastructure and investment
  • $100 million for tourism-related infrastructure.

$100 million over two years from 2020-21 to fund Regional Recovery Partnerships, which will coordinate investments with other levels of government to support recovery and growth in ten regions.

$41 million in funding for a new Research and Development Program, comprising the Securing Raw Materials Program and a Regional Cooperative Research Centre Projects (R-CRC) Program.

A further $30.3 million to the Regional Connectivity Program to expand the number of eligible projects that can be funded under this program, and enable a broader range of regional communities and businesses to leverage the benefits of improved digital connectivity, including in key sectors such as agriculture, tourism, health and education.

An additional $22.7 million for a sixth round of the Stronger Communities Program, which provides grants of between $2,500 and $20,000 across the country for a range of locally-driven projects that aim to strengthen our regions, their economies and the vibrant communities which characterise them.

The Building Resilient Regional Leaders initiative will invest $5 million over three years from 2020-21 to deliver place based leadership training.

$4.6 million towards the Regional Australia Institute’s National Awareness Campaign, promoting the benefits and opportunities of living in regional Australia.

An additional $2 billion in funding for projects through the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund. This more than doubles the Fund to a total of $3.5 billion and will deliver increased water security, build resilience in our regions, deliver jobs and grow the country’s critical agriculture sector. The fund will also become a 10-year rolling program of priority water infrastructure investments.

The aviation industry, which has been heavily impacted by travel restrictions, will continue to receive support through:

  • The Domestic Aviation Network Support (DANS) Program through to 31 January 2021 to support networks servicing the most critical metropolitan and regional routes in Australia.
  • Up to $198 million through to 28 March 2021 for the Regional Airline Network Support Program facilitating the continued operation of a minimum network of passenger flights to regional and remote communities across Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • $100 million in funding for the Regional Airlines Funding Assistance Program to give direct cash flow assistance to smaller regional air operators to help them remain financially viable, and continue to provide essential air connectivity to regional Australia.
  • $66 million in 2020-21 for the Regional Airports Screening Infrastructure Program to support eligible regional airports meet costs associated with establishing enhanced security screening requirements.
  •  $669 million for the International Freight Assistance Mechanism to maintain supply chains by keeping international freight routes and flights operating, and importantly to re-establish domestic connections for producers in regional and rural areas that rely on airfreight.

The budget will invest in transport infrastructure through:

  • $110 billion over 10 years through the rolling infrastructure plan to meet our national freight challenge, get Australians home sooner and safer, and support regional jobs and investment at the time it is needed most.
  • $2 billion over 18 months on road safety upgrades across the road network to create jobs and support the Government’s new National Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030. Works will commence no later than January 2021 and will provide around 9,000 widely distributed local jobs and support the Government’s objectives on road safety.
  • $1.5 billion to fund local priority projects through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program. This includes an additional $1 billion through the 2020-21 Budget. This investment will support an estimated 3,000 direct and indirect jobs over the life of the projects.

NBN Co will invest $4.5 billion to bring ultra-fast broadband to millions of families and businesses, including an estimated 950,000 homes and businesses in regional Australia. The investment includes establishing 85 Business Fibre Zones in Regional Australia that will provide access to Ultrafast broadband at CBD zone wholesale prices, driving annual cost savings of up to 67 per cent. It also includes $300 million for NBN Co to co-invest with councils, state, territory and federal governments in programs to boost regional connectivity.

A new $37.1 million Strengthening Telecommunications Against Natural Disasters (STAND) Package to prevent, mitigate and manage telecommunications outages during emergencies.

$22.1 million Australian 5G Innovation Initiative to test and trial applications of 5G technology and services in key industry sectors such as agriculture, mining, logistics and manufacturing.

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