ONE month ago, I announced a process to assess which federal government departments, agencies or their parts could be sensibly moved to regional Australia. Regional Australians deserve the chance at a public service career just as much as residents of inner city Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.
After all, regional Australia produces the milk city people put on their cereal, the meat and vegies for dinner, the gas that cooks their dinner, the electricity which powers their households as well as the water they shower in.
The process of assessing which departments, agencies or parts of them are suitable to move to the regions runs until the end of the year when potential moves would be selected.
A proper planning process means the moves would begin next financial year and so money would be allocated in next year’s budget.
We’ve got more than $8 billion going to Inland Rail between Brisbane and Melbourne, a visionary project which will help get our farm produce to port faster and cheaper, boosting many regional towns.
We’ve secured $272 million for a new regional major projects fund to help unlock potential in regions by helping them break into new markets and industries.
Minimum value of these projects is $20 million so regions can really think big about tomorrow and beyond.
The Building Better Regions Fund has been boosted by $200 million to $497 million for medium sized infrastructure and community investments.
Building Better Regions invests in things like regional airport upgrades, a new cultural centre or theatre, conference centre or a new sports stadium.
The community investment part of the fund invests in things like tourism strategies, expanding a local festival or building local leadership.
For small community projects – a new kitchen for community house for example - we’ve got the Stronger Communities Program.
We’ve got $15 million for new community-owned regional university training hubs across the nation, where our children can study any university course in Australia without leaving the region they grew up in.
The Gonski 2.0 reforms will see a true needs-based funding model. Many of the schools who need more are in the country.
For the first time we’ve got remote psychology – through Skye or teleconferencing – covered by Medicare for rural and remote people.
There is $156 million in the budget to continue building the 756 mobile phone towers which are we’ve already signed contracts for through our Mobile Black Spots Program.
The telecommunications companies have booked out the available labour for the next couple of years building those towers.
I aim to help build the regional communities our children and grandchildren either want to stay in or come back to and this year’s budget takes great steps towards that.