Our farmers and regional communities remain at the core of Australia’s economy and identity.

We are supporting farmers and helping communities rebuild after drought, bushfires, floods and COVID-19.

We will keep working to boost regional industries, grow regional economies and improve regional infrastructure and services.

REBUILDING REGIONAL ECONOMIES

Businesses and workers in regional communities are being supported by the largest economic support measures in Australia’s history, including: JobKeeper; Cash Flow Boost payments; the JobMaker Hiring Credit; 50% wage subsidies for apprentices; and the expanded Instant Asset Write Off.

The $1 billion COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund is also providing support where it is critically needed. Examples include supporting regional tourism and airlines, providing air freight support for fisheries and financial backing for regional zoos and aquariums.

Regional Australia is also being supported by: record investments for roads, rail and Inland Rail; a $3.5 billion fund to build dams, pipelines and weirs; and a $5 billion fund for drought resilience.

The recent Budget also provided an additional $2 billion to provide concessional loans for farmers and agricultural dependent businesses to help them overcome the drought.

To help bushfire affected communities recover, the Government has allocated more than $2 billion to the National Bushfire Recovery Fund.

This is on top of the more than $640 million which has been spent on Disaster Recovery Payments, Disaster Recovery Allowance and other support.

Regional Development is also assisted through the Building Better Regions Fund.

This program delivers tailored projects to help communities – from water recycling facilities, to refreshed streetscapes.

The last round delivered 163 projects across Australia. The next round will include a specific stream for tourism related infrastructure.

BUSHFIRE RECOVERY

Last season’s devastating bushfires required us to do everything possible to fight fires, protect lives, and support communities.

Over 8,000 Australian Defence Force Personnel were deployed, including the first compulsory call-out of reserve brigades in Australia’s history.

Their efforts included creating 240km of fire breaks, clearing 4,800km of roads, repairing 1,250km of fencing and supporting more than 500 evacuees.

Over $1.8 billion (as at 31 August) has hit the ground, which has included:

  • Over 209,000 Australians receiving Disaster Recovery Payments and Disaster Recovery Allowance;
  • Over 88,000 children being helped with education expenses with the Back-to-School support program;
  • Over 3,300 volunteer firefighters receiving financial support;
  • Over 21,000 small businesses receiving small business support grants;
  • Over 2,500 farmers receiving primary producer grants;
  • Over 4,800 properties being safely cleared;
  • Significant support for mental health and counselling;
  • Over $500 million in support for local economic recovery projects and support for local councils.

DROUGHT RESPONSE

This Government has delivered more than $10 billion in initiatives to respond to the drought since 2018-19. Our National Drought Response Plan has three parts:

  • Immediate action for those affected. This includes Farm Household Allowance (including fortnightly payments for up to four years for every 10 year period). The Government also provides other support like rebates for water infrastructure, interest free loans, tax relief and rural financial counselling.
  • Supporting Wider Communities. This has included an additional $1 million for economic stimulus for 180 Councils, plus more money for: local roads and other infrastructure; schools and early learning centres; and local charities.
  • Long term resilience and preparedness. The $5 billion Future Drought Fund will help deal with future droughts. We are investing in over 20 water infrastructure projects around the country.

BOOSTING EXPORTS

Eight out of Australia’s top ten exports are produced in regional, rural and remote areas.

Australia exports around 70% of its agricultural food production.

Australia’s exports have grown from $306 billion in 2012-13 to $476.6 billion in 2019-20.

Australia had a trade surplus of $77.4 billion in 2019-20 - the largest financial year trade surplus ever.

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, Australia has also recorded 34 consecutive monthly trade surpluses, the most consecutive trade surpluses ever.

Since 2013 Australian exporters have gained duty-free or preferential access to 1.7 billion more customers, through landmark free trade agreements with Japan, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Peru, as well as the 10 other nations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

We have ratified the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (between Australia, New Zealand and nine Pacific countries).

We have reached agreement with 14 other Asia Pacific member countries, accounting for 30 per cent of global GDP, to form the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

We are pursuing new opportunities by negotiating free trade agreements with the European Union, the United Kingdom and the Pacific Alliance (Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru).

BOOSTING AGRICULTURE

This year, winter crop production is forecast to be the second highest on record.

The gross value of agricultural production is forecast to rise by 7 per cent to $65 billion in 2020-21.

The Liberal and Nationals Government is supporting the industry’s plan to lift agriculture, fisheries and forestry to a $100 billion industry by 2030.

Our 2015 Agriculture White Paper put in place a long term plan to help farmers, backed by funding, for:

  • Farm Business Concessional Loans.
  • Accelerated depreciation to help investment in fencing.
  • Water reticulation and fodder storage.
  • Stronger biosecurity and control of pest animals and weeds.
  • New investment in R&D.

The recent Budget provided an additional $2 billion to provide concessional loans for farmers and agricultural dependent businesses to help them overcome drought.

The recent Budget included $328 million in funding (over four years) to slash unnecessary red tape to get products to markets faster.

To help farmers with labour shortages, in August, National Cabinet decided to resume the Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme.

WATER SECURITY

The Government has invested more than $3.5 billion for dams, weirs and pipelines through the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund. We added $2 billion in funding over ten years from 2020-21 for the development and delivery of a 10-year rolling program of priority water infrastructure investment.

This additional funding will deliver increased water security, build resilience in our regions, deliver jobs and grow our critical agriculture sector.

Already over 20 projects have been funded, to supply billions of litres of water for productive use.

The construction of Emu Swamp dam (near Stanthorpe, QLD) is already under way.

The recent Budget doubles the Government’s commitment to the Wyangala Dam (in Central West NSW) and Dungowan Dam (in the New England region). Adding capacity to these dams will deliver more than 650 gigalitres – more than is in Sydney Harbour.

LANDCARE

We are investing around $1 billion over five years in Landcare.

This includes the Regional Land Partnerships, which restore wetlands, protect threatened species and improve soil health on farms.

REGIONAL ROADS AND RAIL

Our record $110 billion investment in infrastructure includes major road and rail upgrades to better connect regional communities.

The $14.5 billion Inland Rail project will change the way freight is moved between Melbourne and Brisbane, while boosting local economies and jobs.

Other important regional passenger and freight rail projects include: upgraded passenger rail lines across Victoria; the Beerburrum to Nambour Rail Upgrade in Queensland; the Gawler Rail Upgrade in South Australia; and Tasmanian freight rail upgrades.

To improve local roads, we are investing more in the Roads to Recovery, Black Spot, Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity, and Bridges Renewal programs.

Through our Roads of Strategic Importance initiative we are upgrading key freight routes to help agriculture and mining exporters and improve safety on key tourism roads.

REGIONAL AVIATION

Aviation was one of the industries hit early by COVID-19. Through the Domestic Aviation Network Support and Regional Airline Network Support, the Government has supported more than 6,700 return services to more than 120 locations across Australia.

REGIONAL COMMUNICATIONS

More than 99 per cent of premises across Australia are now able to connect to NBN high-speed broadband.

Businesses in 85 Business Fibre Zones across regional Australia will be eligible to access speeds up to 1 gigabit per second, significantly uplifting the digital capability of small and medium sized businesses.

In Government, Labor didn’t fix a single black spot or deliver a single tower. By contrast, the Liberal and Nationals Government has funded 1,200 mobile base stations across Australia, with more than 890 of these already switched on.

RURAL AND REGIONAL HEALTH

Australians living in rural and regional Australia have access to new services including new regional cancer centres.

Our $550 million Stronger Rural Health Strategy is delivering 3,000 more doctors and more than 3,000 extra nurses and allied health professionals in rural general practice over the next decade.

In 2020, 83 General Practitioner-led Respiratory Clinics were established in rural and remote areas.

Also in 2020, around 42 million Telehealth services have been provided to Australians. This rapid expansion of Telehealth particularly helps regional patients.

REGIONAL EDUCATION

The Liberal and Nationals Government has delivered needs-based funding for the first time in Australia.

This increases average funding per student by 60% over the decade.

To see what long term funding is being provided to your local school, go to: www.education.gov.au/school-funding-estimator

Information current as at December 2020