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

Regional and rural communities have endured very difficult times, with droughts, floods, bushfires and the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.

We are committed to supporting farmers and communities as they rebuild and recover.

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

REBUILDING REGIONAL ECONOMIES

Throughout the pandemic, businesses and workers in regional communities have been supported by the largest economic support measures in Australia’s history.

These include: JobKeeper; Cash Flow Boost payments; 50% wage subsidies for apprentices; the expanded Instant Asset Write Off; and COVID-19 Disaster Payments.

The $1 billion COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund is providing critical support where it’s needed.

This includes 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 2020-21 Budget provided an additional $2 billion for concessional loans for farmers and agricultural dependent businesses to help overcome the drought.

The Coalition Government has committed $60 million for five grants programs directed at the 14 Local Government Areas hardest hit by the 2019 North Queensland floods.

To help bushfire affected communities recover, the Government has allocated more than $2 billion to the National Bushfire Recovery Fund. $1.6 billion of this has been spent.

This is on top of the more than $700 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

The 2019-20 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. This included the first compulsory call-out of Reserve brigades in Australia’s history.

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

Over $2.3 billion of Commonwealth funding has hit the ground (as at July 2021), including:

  • Over 290,000 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 21,400 small businesses receiving small business support grants.
  • Over 2,940 farmers receiving primary producer grants.
  • Over 4,950 properties being safely cleared.
  • Significant support for mental health and counselling. (Over 6,640 people have accessed bushfire specific Medicare mental health items).
  • Over $630 million in support for local economic recovery projects, Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants program 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 includes:

  • 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 for 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.

To support farmers through drought:

  • Over 16,200 farmers have been assisted through Farm Household Allowance.
  • Over 7,767 On-farm Emergency Water Infrastructure rebates have been approved.
  • Over 41,000 households have been assisted through the Drought Community Support Initiative.

NATIONAL RECOVERY AND RESILIENCE AGENCY

The Morrison Government has established the National Recovery and Resilience Agency, to support local communities during the relief and recovery phases following major disasters.

It will also provide advice to Government on policies and programs to mitigate the impact of future major disasters. This work will be supported by an initial investment of $600 million.

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 – our largest trade surplus ever.

Since 2013 Australian exporters have gained duty-free or preferential access to 1.7 billion more customers.

This includes landmark free trade agreements with Japan, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Peru, plus the 11 nations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (between Australia, New Zealand and nine Pacific countries).

A new Free Trade Agreement is being finalised with the United Kingdom.

BOOSTING AGRICULTURE

The gross value of agricultural production is forecast to rise to around $70 billion in 2021-22.

The Coalition 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, with 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 $850 million to boost resilience of Australia’s agricultural industry. This includes over $400 million to strengthen Australia’s biosecurity and $228 million to help farmers look after our land, soils and environment.

Last year's Budget also 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 during the pandemic, the National Cabinet resumed 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 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 30 projects have been funded, to supply billions of litres of water for productive use.

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 1,700 km 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 1.8 million passengers to continue to travel, including essential workers in health care and other front line services.

REGIONAL COMMUNICATIONS

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

Businesses in 111 Business Fibre Zones across regional Australia will be eligible to access speeds up to 1 gigabit per second. This will significantly uplift 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 Coalition 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 has, in its first two years, attracted 800 additional GPs and 700 additional nurses to work in regional and remote areas.

Our goal is to deliver 3,000 more doctors and 3,000 more nurses and allied health professionals over the next decade.

The recent Budget includes funding to boost the bulk billing incentive in regional areas, providing a higher bulk billing incentive for around 12,000 GPs in regional areas.

In 2020, to help deal with the pandemic, more than 80 General Practitioner-led Respiratory Clinics were established in rural and remote areas.

Around 70 million Telehealth services have been provided to nearly 15 million Australians (between March 2020 and August 2021). This rapid expansion of Telehealth particularly helps regional patients.

REGIONAL EDUCATION

The Coalition Government has delivered needs-based funding for the first time in Australia.

The Coalition Government has significantly increased school funding to Government Schools – from $4.9 billion in 2013, to $9.3 billion in 2021, to $13.6 billion in 2029.

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

Information current as at September 2021