The federal budget will target regional Australia with $250 million worth of Building Better Regions grants for councils and community organisations.
In an address to the Regional Australia Institute on Wednesday Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack foreshadowed almost $280 million of budget measures for regional Australia, including a sixth BBRF round of the to support infrastructure and community projects.
Mr McCormack said regional Australia remained at heart of the federal government’s economic recovery plan, and this year’s budget would support that.
“Ladies and gentlemen, yes – we hear the call from regional Australia and this year’s budget will continue and extend that laser-sharp focus on regional Australia’s needs and wants,” he said.
Building better regions
Mr McCormack said last year’s $200 million budget commitment for a fifth Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) round was oversubscribed by almost a billion dollars and the government is still considering applications.
The fifth round offered grants for new and upgraded infrastructure, including $100 million for tourism related projects, and community investments including local events and regional plans.
This year the government will provide a quarter of a billion dollars for a sixth BBRF round, Mr McCormack said.
“I can advise in the new financial year the government will deliver an additional $250 million into a Sixth Round of BBRF,” he said.
“I’m delighted this will further accelerate regional recovery and deliver growth, community renewal, more jobs and new workforce skills, for the long term.”
Recovering from covid
There will also be an injection of funding to drive a Rebuilding Regional Communities program, Mr McCormack said.
“The Australian government will provide $5 million in the 2021-22 Budget to deliver a new Rebuilding Regional Communities Program in partnership with the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal,” he said.
The program will offer community organisations grants across two streams to help with the COVID recovery.
The Micro Projects stream will provide small grants of up to $10,000 for communities with fewer than 50,000 people, and the COVID Recovery stream will provide up to $50,000 for larger projects.
The budget will also commit $22.3 million to develop business cases for eight new water infrastructure projects in NSW, Victoria, SA and Tasmania.
The projects are:
- Lostock Dam to Glennies Creek Dam Pipeline (NSW)
- Nyngan to Cobar Pipeline (NSW)
- Pakenham Cora Lynn Recycled Water Scheme for Agriculture (Vic)
- Coliban Regional Modernisation (Vic)
- Sunbury-Bulla-Keilor Agricultural Rejuvenation (Vic)
- Tyabb-Sommerville Recycled Water Irrigation Scheme (Vic)
- New Water Infrastructure to the Barossa (SA)
- South East Integration Project (Tas)
Disappointment over regional housing
However Mr McCormack indicated the Budget will offer little comfort for those concerned about housing in regional areas.
Asked whether the Budget would address housing shortages in regional Australia, he said housing was was a matter for the states.
“The remit for housing falls largely in the states and we’ll work with them to make sure they’ve got the right programs assistance and support from the federal government to continue to do their job,” he said.
Infrastructure boost for WA
Another winner from next week’s budget is Western Australia, which will get $1.3 billion for roads and transport infrastructure projects.
Key projects to be funded include:
- $347.5 million for METRONET: Hamilton Street-Wharf Street Grade Separations and Elevation of Associated Stations, including Queens Park Station and Cannington Station and an enhanced METRONET Byford Rail Extension project, with new grade separated rail crossing at Armadale Road and an elevated station at Armadale
- $200 million for the Great Eastern Highway Upgrades – Coates Gully, Walgoolan to Southern Cross and Ghooli to Benari
- $160 million for the WA Agricultural Supply Chain Improvements – Package 1
- $112.5 million for the Reid Highway – Altone Road and Daviot Road-Drumpellier Drive – Grade-separated intersections
- $85 million for the Perth Airport Precinct – Northern Access
- $64 million for the Toodyay Road Upgrade – Dryandra to Toodyay
- $55 million for the Mandurah Estuary Bridge Duplication, and
- $31.5 million towards the METRONET High Capacity Signalling project
Treasurer Josh Frydenburg will hand down the 2021-22 federal budget on May 11.
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