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February 2013 Newsletter

In This Issue:

  • Welcome From The Chair
  • RDA Fund Projects in the Northern Inland Move to Next Stage of Assessment
  • Well Deserved Recognition For RDANI Chair In Australia Day Honours List
  • Faster Internet For The Bush As NBN Co Doubles Internet Speeds For Rural And Remote Australians
  • Murray Darling Basin Plan Developments
  • Upcoming Conferences
  • What's On In The Northern Inland
  • Tenders
  • New Grants and Funding Opportunities

Welcome From The Chair

Mal Peters, Chair

Dear Northern Inlanders,

I trust that you all have an optimistic outlook for the rest of 2013 after such welcoming rain over the past month.

It’s been a busy time for the RDANI Committee as tough decisions were made in our assessment of the RDA Fund projects to put forward under rounds three and four. We are confident that these projects will deliver significant benefit to the region and look forward to some successful outcomes.

There are a number of regional conferences scheduled for the first half of 2013.  I would encourage you to attend where possible, such that you and your organisation remain current and up to date with the future of the Northern Inland.

Mal Peters, Chair

RDA Fund Projects in the Northern Inland Move to Next Stage of Assessment

Regional Development Australia Northern Inland (RDANI) has welcomed the announcement of the projects proceeding to full application stage for Rounds Three and Four of the Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF).

Round Three is worth $50 million and will provide grants of between $50,000 and $500,000 for projects located in towns with a population of 30,000 or less.

Round Four will allocate $175 million through grants of between $500,000 and $15 million for priority regional infrastructure projects that also leverage funding from state and local governments and the private sector.

The projects selected to proceed to the final stage of the application process will deliver real benefits to local communities.  RDA Northern Inland had to make some hard decisions, and selected projects that meet clearly identified regional priorities.  RDA Northern Inland received over 30 high quality Expressions of Interest for important projects and congratulates all proponents involved.

“We received a number of high quality project proposals and it was a difficult process for our Committee to choose those that will proceed to the final stage of the application process,” RDANI Chair, Mal Peters said.

“The projects chosen took into the account the priorities of our Regional Plan and other identified community priorities, and address the needs of the region.

“The projects are backed by a strong level of community support and are ready to proceed. They will each have a positive long-term impact on our region and neighbouring regions,” Mr Peters said.

Projects selected to proceed to full application in the Northern Inland region are:

Round Three:

  • Glen Innes Severn Council’s Aviation College;
  • Moree Plains Shire Council’s Evergreen Precinct Spa Water Reuse Facility and Artesian Recreational Reserve;
  • Gwydir Shire Council’s Centre for Regenerative Agriculture at the Living Classroom;
  • Pathfinder’s Tilbuster Station Development; and
  • Inverell Shire Council’s Varley Oval Sporting Complex Redevelopment

Round Four:

  • Tenterfield Shire Council’s Northern Growth Corridor (Mt Lindesay Road Upgrade);
  • Joblink Plus’ E-Waste Recycling Facility in Tamworth; and
  • Walcha Shire Council Consortium - Thunderbolts Way upgrade

A list of projects selected to proceed to full application under both rounds is available at www.regional.gov.au.

The closing dates for full applications are Wednesday 27 March 2013 for Round Three and Thursday 11 April 2013 for Round Four. The Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport will assess all applications to ensure compliance with the Guidelines.

Eligible applications will then be assessed by an independent Advisory Panel and funded projects will be announced from June onwards.

The RDAF is worth almost $1 billion over five years and is designed to boost economic and community development. It is part of the Australian Government’s commitment to regional Australia.

Well Deserved Recognition For RDANI Chair In Australia Day Honours List

A long-time advocate for Australian farmers and our own Chair, Mal Peters, has received a Medal of the Order of Australia for services to primary industry, regional development and the community.

Mr Peters, of Ashford, is best known for his work as president of the NSW Farmers' Association and as a director of the National Farmers' Federation.

"When I get involved in things, I like to give my heart and soul. I'm very honoured to have been recognised. It's indeed a great privilege," he said.

He admits that getting involved in the political decision-making process was a sharp learning curve.

"You have a perception about how governments work and how you seek to influence them but, when you become involved, you find it's actually substantially different."

Mr Peters likens working with government officials to television show 'Yes Minister'.

"You need to be able to go into the bureaucracies, be well-researched and have strong arguments, and that's how you influence government. It's not about talking to politicians."

One of the achievements he is most proud of during his time at NSW Farmers' is the establishment of the Australian Farm Institute.

"It has gone on to deliver some pretty good results for Australian farmers."

Faster Internet For The Bush As NBN Co Doubles Internet Speeds For Rural And Remote Australians

  • 25 Mbps speed tier for fixed-wireless and satellite networks to help end tyranny of distance
  • NBN Fixed-Wireless customers to benefit from as early as June

NBN Co recently unveiled plans to bring even faster internet to the bush by doubling the wholesale broadband speeds it will deliver to rural and remote Australia.

More than half a million homes, farms and businesses eligible to receive the NBN’s Fixed-Wireless and Long Term Satellite services will be able to take advantage of wholesale download speeds of up to 25 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 5 Mbps.

The faster speeds are planned to be available over the Fixed-Wireless network as early as June . The Long Term Satellite Service is scheduled to launch in 2015.

In a boost to rural communities, the new speed tier will provide wholesale upload speeds up to five times faster than available to Satellite and Fixed-Wireless users over the NBN today (1 Mbps).

It will also deliver double the wholesale download speeds currently available over the Fixed-Wireless service (12 Mbps) and a more than threefold increase in wholesale download speeds compared to today’s Interim Satellite Service (currently 6 Mbps).

In addition, the wholesale prices for internet service providers who retail NBN packages to rural broadband users will be pegged at the same rate as they are for fibre users in the cities: $27 per month for the 25/5Mbps service and $24 for the 12/1Mbps service respectively. NBN Co has already committed to reducing wholesale broadband prices in real terms.

Murray Darling Basin Plan Developments

The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Populations and Communities has recently announced their strategy for recovering environmental water in the Murray Darling Basin.  This follows the passing into law of the Murray Darling Basin Plan in November 2012.

Figure 1 illustrates the intended process.  The key features are:

  1. The Basin Plan must recover 2,750 GL of additional water for the environment.  This will bring the Basin surface water Sustainable Diversion Limit (SDL) down to 10,873 GL.  The SDL is the amount of water that can be diverted for non-environmental uses (e.g. irrigation, town water etc.);
  2. 960 GL of water for the environment had already been recovered up to 2009;
  3. Between 2009 and September 2012, another 1,577 GL were recovered, the majority through water buy-backs;
  4. In October 2012, the Prime Minister announced an additional 450 GL to be recovered through on-farm efficiency measures in the southern part of the Basin;
  5. Including the 450 GL announcement, this leaves 1,623 GL still to be recovered by 2019.
  6. The 1,623 GL figure can be reduced by up to 650 GL through the implementation of ‘supply measures’ such as environmental works and measures, rules changes and improved river operations ;
  7. It is expected that 288 GL will be recovered through investments in irrigation modernisation and other water efficiency projects carried out under the Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program (SRWUIP)
  8. The remaining water will largely be recovered via purchases of water licences which are voluntarily offered for sale to the government.

Through our Murray Darling Basin project, RDANI will continue to update the Northern Inland community on important Murray Darling Basin developments, and are pursuing economic development and project initiatives aimed at minimising the loss of productive water and offsetting potential socio-economic impacts.

Upcoming Conferences

RDA-NI is proud to support the following upcoming conferences:

Building Regional Australia 2013 Summit

9, 10, 11 April 2013, Armidale

With the theme ‘regional minds, regional policy, regional outcomes’, the Building Regional Australia 2013 Summit will be a unique opportunity to examine the leading issues for regional Australia; and create a platform to draw attention to regional Australia as the engine room of our nation.

Managing rapid growth in Australian capital cities is a formidable task and places heavy demand on resources (often at the expense of regional areas). In light of this, the 2013 Summit will highlight prospering regional communities and showcase successful strategies being implemented in terms of regional development policy.

Held at the Armidale Ex-Services Club, Building Regional Australia 2013 will focus on building momentum in the lead up to the next Federal election.

Further details are available on the conference website, www.buildingregionalaustralia.org.au

Digital Rural Futures: Smart Farms - Smart Regions

26, 27, 28 June 2013, Armidale

Our digital rural future is bountiful but it will be challenging.  Digital Rural Futures 2013 (Smart Farms – Smart Regions) is a national forum aimed at raising awareness of, and promoting discussion around these challenges and opportunities. You areinvited to attend this 3-day event; to hear, to present, and ultimately play a role in ensuring Australia gets the best out of our digital rural future.

Conference Themes

  • Smart technology: including sensors and sensor networks, immersive and sentinel vision and communication technologies, far-end control and autonomous systems (including UAVs and robotics) for environment and agricultural production:
  • Data and information management: including cloud-based services, interoperability, sharing and security, crowd sourcing and citizen science, remote surveys, web-supported smart phone apps etc:
  • Smart services and decision support systems: application cases including precision agriculture, farm-to-customer retail, remote on-farm product support, teleworking, remote diagnostic and advisory systems including tele- veterinary and tele-agronomic support, assisted living, tele-health, remote extension and training, consumer surveys, intelligent networks for power grid control, emergency and environmental risk management.

Further details are available on the University of New England's website, www.une.edu.au/smart/

What's On In The Northern Inland

Art And All That Jazz
Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd of March

A festival celebrating the Arts through an Arts Exhibition Opening Night with music and light refreshments on Friday and workshops, stalls and entertainment throughout the weekend. At Wallabadah Hall. Further details available on the Visit Quirindi website, www.visitquirindi.com.au/events/

Clean Up Australia
Sunday 3rd of March

Clean Up Australia Day is a simple way you can take action to clean up, fix up and conserve our prized Australian environment.  In 2012 an estimated 591,400 volunteers cleaned up 16,169 tonnes at 7,363 sites right across Australia. Clean up Sites will be run throughout our region, and you can locate one near you through their website, www.cleanupaustraliaday.org.au

Friday 8th to Sunday 10th of March
Glen Innes

Enjoy a weekend of fossicking adventure at NSW’s largest annual fossicking & gem show. Attracting visitors and dealers from all over Australia, Minerama is perfect for all gem lovers, rockhounds and outdoor adventurers. Search for buried treasure in Celtic Country with guided fossicking field trips to suit both beginner and experienced gem hunters. Great fun for the whole family with a wealth of gems just waiting to be unearthed.  Further details are available on the show’s website, www.minerama.com.au

Business Summit
Tuesday 12th to Wednesday 13th of March

The 2013 Business Summit is where regional businesses of all sizes and industries have the opportunity to listen and interact with business experts and thinkers. In today’s fast-paced digital age, and the rate at which things are changing, businesses need to be able to act quickly and adapt as new opportunities or obstacles present themeselves. Further details are available on their website, ww.businesssummit.com.au

Armidale Autumn Festival
Friday 15th of March to Monday 18th of March

The Autumn Festival is a celebration of the Armidale city’s autumn vibrant colours, excellence in education, music, sport, retails and richness in cultures. The festival begins with the Twilight Festival, street markets & entertainment in the Park on 15th March commences at 5pm. Featuring Armidale's 1st Laser Light Show. The Fun Day on 16th March starts with the Pancake Breakfast with the Armidale City Band and the Campus to City canter. The Parade will start at 12.30pm with the route running through the CBD, and will be followed by entertainment throughout the day includes a fun fair and markets, free entertainment and performances by the local pipe band. Sunday morning activities include the Hutchinson & Harlow Real Estate Autumn Festival Criterion covering the CBD area and the Armidale Farmers' Market. Monday’s activities are at the Armidale Racecourse and are run by the Armidale Jockey Club. Further details are available on the Armidale Tourism Website, www.armidaletourism.com.au/pages/autumn-festival-2013/

Inverell On Display
Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th of March

Inverell on Display has exhibits designed to showcase Inverell and the Shire's businesses. The event is being held at Rugby Park in Inverell over two days.  Throughout the two day event there will be demonstrations, parades, entertainment and food available. Various goods will also be on sale. Celebrity guests at this years Inverell on Display are DIY and Renovating expert from Better Homes and Gardens - Rob Palmer, as well as cook and author Belinda Jeffery. Further details are available on the Inverell Tourism website, www.inverell.com.au


Tamworth Hospital Stage 2: Acute Services Building

Closing Date: 12 March 2013

For any businesses interested in submitting an EOI for supplying the fit out/landscaping etc for Stage 2 of Tamworth Hospital please refer to http://gateway.icn.org.au/project/3197/watpac-nat-buildplan-jv-tender-tamworth-hospital-stage-2-acute-services-building-mw-package

New Grants And Funding Opportunities

Small Grants For Small Rural Communities

Round 23 Due: 2 Apr 2013
Round 24 Due: 30 Sept 2013

The program offers grants up to $5,000 for projects and activities that offer clear public benefit for communities, with populations of 10,000 or less,  living in small rural and remote locations in Australia, contributing to their development in social and community welfare, economic development and social enterprise, environmental and natural resource management, health, education or cultural and historic areas.

Applications are invited from not-for-profit, incorporated community organisations. Organisations should have an ABN or Incorporation Certificate and projects must be for a charitable purpose (benefit the whole community).  Deductable Gift Recipient status (DGR) is not required for this grant program.

While the criteria for this program are broad, we cannot fund operational and administration costs, travel or accommodation.

Please note also, that the encouragement or advancement of sport, recreation and social activities is not considered a charitable activity by the Australian Taxation Office. Applications from sporting organisations need to clearly demonstrate a benefit to the wider community.

Biodiversity Fund

EOI: 12 Mar 2013
Application: 10 Apr  2013

The Biodiversity Fund is an ongoing program under the Australian Government's Land Sector Package of the Clean Energy Future plan. The overall objectives of the Biodiversity Fund are to help land managers establish, manage and enhance native vegetation on their land, increase our stores of carbon in the landscape and, in so doing, maintain ecosystem function and improve the resilience of our ecosystems to the impacts of climate change.

The first investment round of the Biodiversity Fund was deliberately broad in its reach. A targeted investment approach has been announced in Northern Australia and Round Two will extend this targeted approach to a number of priority areas across the country.

Investment focus

  • The Biodiversity Fund's targeted investment approach provides an opportunity to focus on environments that are rich in biodiversity but facing increasing pressures. Such pressures include loss of habitat connectivity through land use change and declining ecosystem function due to fragmentation and proliferation of invasive species.
  • The Biodiversity Fund Round Two 2013-14 will invest directly in targeted locations that are considered nationally important owing to their level of species richness and endemism, their potential to support wildlife corridors and their potential to store carbon in the landscape. Many of these areas are threatened by fragmentation and/or invasive species and will benefit from efforts to reconnect the landscape and maintain healthy vegetation.

Community Landcare Grants

Application: 20 Mar 2013

The Community Landcare Grants are small grant available through the Sustainable Agriculture stream of the Australian Government's Caring for our Country initiative.

Grants between $5000 to $50 000 (GST exclusive) are available to help local community-based organisations and groups take on-ground action as well as build their capacity and skills to manage their natural environment and productive lands, while contributing towards program outcomes to:

  • increase the percentage and area of farming entities that have adopted sustainable land management practices to increase productivity and improve the quality of ecosystem services delivered to the broader community from their land, whilst building their resilience to climate change
  • increase the percentage of fishing and aquaculture entities that have adopted sustainable and low environmental impact management practices to increase productivity
  • increase the number and area of farming and fishing entities that have trialled innovative practices for improved natural resources management
  • increase the percentage of farming and fishing entities and land managers improving their knowledge and skills in managing our natural resources to deliver ecosystem services.
  • increase the capacity and confidence of regional community leaders, including women, young people, Indigenous Australians and culturally diverse communities involved in agriculture or fisheries production and the protection of natural resources, and
  • increase engagement and participation by regional communities, including Landcare, professional farming, industry and other community groups or individuals, in activities to manage natural resources.

Further informaiton on grants and funding opportunities are available in the Grants and Funding Opportunities area of the RDA-NI website.

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