Regional Capitals Australia (RCA) tonight welcomed the Federal Government’s 2017-18 budget that included regional funding for community infrastructure, jobs and commuter and freight rail projects.
RCA Chair, Mayor Shane Van Styn stated the investments announced tonight were fundamental to ensuring regional capital cities continue to grow as well as service the smaller rural towns that surround them.
“Combined, our regional capitals cities have a population of more than 4 million people – a similar size to Australia’s biggest cities – and an additional 8 million Australians rely on regional capital cities for their everyday needs,” Mayor Van Styn added.
“RCA has made the case for our cities to be liveable and connected and we are pleased to see these areas reflected in the budget,” he said.
Funding allocated in the budget included new announcements for the following:
- Regional Growth Fund: $272 million (over 4 years) for major regional infrastructure projects that will support long-term economic growth and create jobs in regions.
- Regional Commuter Rail Connectivity: $500 million for upgrades in Victorian regional commuter rail projects:
- North East Line
- Gippsland Rail Line
- Geelong Line
- Murray Basin Rail Project: $20.2 million for infrastructure upgrades to allow better access the ports of Portland, Geelong and Melbourne.
- Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail: $8.4 billion for project construction for he national rail freight line.
- Regional Study Hubs: $15.2 (over 4 years) to establish 6 regional study hubs to improve access to higher education. Students will be able to study locally with courses provided by distance from any Australian university.
Continuation of funding was provided for:
- Building Better Regions Fund: $200 million over 4 years to support the construction of community infrastructure and build the capacity of regional areas.
- Mobile Black Spots Program: $60 million 2017-18 to 2019-20 being made available under the Mobile Black Spot Program
- Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships $24 million (over 4 years) to support regional and remote students to undertake science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) studies.
- Regional Jobs and Investment Packages: $220 million for 11 packages to help regions in Australia with untapped potential to diversify their economies and unlock new sources of growth. $20 million in new funding has been allocated to the Latrobe Valley.
- Stronger Communities Programme: $22.5 million (additional) for small capital projects in local communities.
“It is also great to see the government’s city deal commitments for Townsville and Launceston highlighted in the budget papers tonight” he said.
“It remains however, very unclear how the Government will progress and fund any future city deals for our member cities – this would have been a welcome clarification,” Mayor Van Styn said.
Regional capital cities contribute $225 billion every year to Australia’s economy, which represents more than 15 per cent of total national economic output.
“Our member cities are a viable and immediate option for businesses and people looking to escape the crushing congestion of the metro cities – it’s important that the Government continues to support us so we’re strong into the future,” Mayor Van Styn said.
“We have capacity to continue to grow, however, we know that this will only occur with ongoing investment in infrastructure and services – we will now work with the Government to highlight how tonight’s announcements can be used to support this aim,” he said.
About Regional Capitals Australia
Regional Capitals Australia (RCA) is an alliance of regional capital local governments across the nation representing Australia’s regional cities. Our mission is to provide a formal platform to champion the continued growth and sustainable development of regional capitals around the nation.
To learn more about our work visit http://www.regionalcapitalsaustralia.org/.
Regional Capitals Australia Secretariat
P: 03 9614 7302
M: 0422 067 858