Over the last 12 months the federal Labor government has made one of the biggest investments ever in regional health, education, infrastructure and skills development.
The first two rounds of the Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF) saw $350 million of federal government investment leverage more than $1.2 billion in total investment through partnerships — a multiplier of up to four to one.
I recently announced that rounds three and four of RDAF will make available another $225 million in funding from the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT).
Round three will see $50 million dedicated specifically to projects in small towns with a population of 30,000 or less, while round four will distribute $175 million to support strategic infrastructure projects.
RDAF is driving a cultural change in regional funding by focusing on projects that stack-up, leverage investment partnerships, provide strong regional reach and generate significant commercial investment.
The first two rounds of RDAF have demonstrated that we have also changed the culture away from pork-barrelling just before an election — a culture the Coalition has said they’ll return to.
RDAF represents a funding model driven by community demands, backed by an independent assessment panel and underpinned by investment partnerships.
Our regions have a great sense of community — they don’t just want economic outcomes — they also want the social and the environmental context driving regional success.
Stronger regions make for a strong nation and only the federal Labor government has the vision and commitment to ensure that all of the patches in our patchwork economy benefit in growth.
I urge community groups and leaders to persist with projects that missed out in the first two rounds and talk to their Regional Development Australia committee to discuss the sorts of projects that should be put forward for consideration.
Simon Crean, Minister for Regional Australia