Part 2: Performance Report (page 3)

Outcome 1

Program 1.1 Regional Development

Regional Development Initiatives

The department supports measures to facilitate economic transition in specific regions in collaboration with state, territory and local governments.

In 2012–13, the department focused on several regional areas that were repositioning their economies to become more sustainable and resilient: the Upper Spencer Gulf in South Australia, Tasmania, the Latrobe Valley in Victoria, northern Queensland and the Murray–Darling Basin.

Table 8 summarises the department's performance against its key performance indicators for 2012–13. The department achieved almost all of its key performance indicators under regional development initiatives.

Image: Oblique, aerial image showing the town of Renmark in South Australia and featuring the Murray river as it snakes around the town.

Renmark, South Australia — one of the many regional centres located on the Murray River. (Photo courtesy of Murray-Darling Basin Authority.)

Table 8: Program 1.1: Regional development—regional development initiatives—performance results

Table 8: Program 1.1: Regional development—regional development initiatives—performance results
Deliverables
  • Develop and implement the Tasmanian Economic Development Package, as a part of the Tasmanian Forest Intergovernmental Agreement.
  • Oversight the implementation of the funding announced as part of the Economic Development Package in 2011–12.
  • Develop and seek approval for projects to be included in the $96 million remaining in the Tasmanian Economic Development Package.
  • Facilitate engagement with community and business to support the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement.
  • Develop options for the implementation of the Regional Structural Adjustment Assistance Package, including cooperative governance arrangements relating to potentially affected regions, initially focused on the Latrobe Valley, and initiatives to support economic and community transition.
  • Work with affected communities on potential impacts of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan and initiatives to strengthen and diversify Murray–Darling Basin communities.
  • Develop and implement the Northern Queensland Strategy comprising the Northern Queensland Regional Development initiative and the Mackay/Fitzroy Workforce Development initiative.
Key performance indicators Resultsa
  • Agreement reached and implementation commenced on projects to be included in the Tasmanian Economic Development Package.
Partially achieved

Funding for implementation of this package was contingent on passage through the Tasmanian Parliament of the Tasmanian Forests Agreement legislation. The delay in passing this legislation until April 2013 consequently delayed implementation of this package. However, the Australian Government, in partnership with the Tasmanian Government, is working with key stakeholders to outline a range of potential funding initiatives to support the Tasmanian economy.
  • Victorian Minister for Regional and Rural Development and Commonwealth Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government announce joint shared strategic directions to guide diversification in the Latrobe Valley.
Achieved

The Victorian and Australian governments agreed to support the directions for economic diversification provided in a report developed by the Latrobe Valley Transition Committee. The report identifies challenges and opportunities for the region, sets a long-term direction for economic growth and outlines processes to support coordinated planning and investment between levels of government and regional institutions.
  • Reach agreement on projects to be funded under the Regional Structural Adjustment Assistance package.
The Regional Structural Adjustment Assistance program ceased as part of the 2013–14 Budget.
  • Implement the Regional Structural Adjustment Assistance package from 2012–13.
The Regional Structural Adjustment Assistance program ceased as part of the 2013–14 Budget.
  • Implement the 2012–13 component of the Northern Queensland Strategy.
Achieved

The department worked with regional stakeholders to identify regional economic development opportunities as part of the Northern Queensland Strategy in 2012–13.
  • Through RDAs in the Murray–Darling Basin, communities in potentially affected areas are assisted and engaged to identify opportunities to strengthen and diversify their economies.
Achieved

RDA committees in the Murray–Darling Basin actively engaged with their communities to identify opportunities for economic development and diversification and to assist communities in their transition to an environment with less water. This work will inform the $100 million Murray–Darling Basin Regional Economic Diversification Program, announced on 22 November 2012.

a Trend information provided where available.

Major achievements

Tasmania

Funding to support economic diversification for Tasmania through the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement was contingent on passage through the Tasmanian Parliament of the Tasmanian Forests Agreement Bill and on the legislative protection of forest reserves under the Bill. The legislation passed the Tasmanian Parliament in April 2013 and the first reserves are expected to be created between September and November 2013.

The department, in collaboration with the Tasmanian Government, consulted key stakeholders on projects that will contribute to sustainable, long-term growth and diversification in the Tasmanian economy. Following these consultations, a range of initiatives were identified for active consideration for funding.

Funding of $3 million was provided to the Tasmanian Government for research and studies on issues surrounding timber residue and special species timber. Resolution of these issues will support the ongoing sustainability of the sawmilling and processing industries and specialist wood-crafts, wooden boat-building and arts sectors.

In May 2013 the Australian Government announced an additional $7 million for the Tasmanian Jobs and Growth Plan, bringing the package to $100 million available over four years.

The department also continued delivery, through the Tasmanian Government, of ten economic diversification projects worth $16 million. These projects were announced in 2011–12 and are supporting growth and sustainability in key sectors of the Tasmanian economy.

Latrobe Valley economic diversification

In 2012–13, the Australian Government announced funding of $3.35 million towards the redevelopment of the Warragul Railway Station Precinct under the Latrobe Valley economic diversification package. This was a priority regional development project identified by the Latrobe Valley Transition Committee in its Report to government in July 2012.

The Australian Government endorsed the strategic directions proposed by the transition committee to place the regional economy on a sustainable and prosperous long-term path. In 2012–13 the department, through membership of the committee, worked with the Latrobe Valley community on actions to support economic diversification and is continuing to collaborate to identify priority regional diversification actions.

Northern Queensland Strategy

To help address the changing economic conditions in the region, the department worked with the four northern Queensland RDA committees and regional stakeholders to identify economic development opportunities as part of the Northern Queensland Strategy.

Opportunities that were identified as having potential to facilitate growth included the tourism, infrastructure, agriculture and resources sectors. The department is continuing to work with regional stakeholders, including the RDA committees, to create a growth plan that takes advantage of local knowledge and expertise to further develop these sectors.

Murray–Darling Basin

On 22 November 2012, the Australian Government announced the $100-million Murray–Darling Basin Regional Economic Diversification Program to assist Basin communities to sustain and increase their economic base, and to stimulate employment and regional growth. The announcement followed tabling of the final Murray–Darling Basin Plan in Parliament.

The department worked with Basin state governments to finalise the arrangements for implementing the program. The program's commencement is linked to ongoing negotiations with Basin states on an intergovernmental agreement for implementation of the Basin Plan.

Upper Spencer Gulf

In September 2012, a memorandum of understanding was signed by the Australian Government, the South Australian Government and the Local Government Association of South Australia to facilitate collaborative arrangements for regional development in the Upper Spencer Gulf. Under the memorandum, the Upper Spencer Gulf is defined by the boundaries of three RDA committees: RDA Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula, RDA Far North and RDA Yorke and Mid-North.

Under the governance structures established by the memorandum, the department worked with all tiers of government, the three RDA committees and local stakeholders to develop strategies and action plans to maximise the benefits of regional investment for the local communities.

Outcome 1

Program 1.1 Regional Development

National Disaster Recovery Taskforce

The department's National Disaster Recovery Taskforce works with other Commonwealth and state government agencies to administer sound and innovative reconstruction and recovery efforts.

The flooding and cyclones that struck Queensland during the summer of 2012–13 required a timely response from the taskforce. The package of exceptional assistance negotiated by the taskforce to assist communities in their recovery was a major outcome for the year. The taskforce also continued to support the Australian Government Reconstruction Inspectorate as it oversighted the delivery of disaster reconstruction in Queensland and Victoria.

Table 9 summarises the department's performance against its key performance indicators, all of which were achieved in 2012–13.

Image: John Fahey and Ahmed Hummadi discussing national disaster damage in Bundaberg. In the background of the image is a boat perched on a heavily-damaged road.

Australian Government Reconstruction Inspectorate Chair John Fahey inspects damage to McGill's Road, Bundaberg, with Ahmed Hummadi from the Queensland Reconstruction Authority.

Table 9: Program 1.1: Regional development—National Disaster Recovery Taskforce—performance results

Table 9: Program 1.1: Regional development—National Disaster Recovery Taskforce—performance results
Deliverables
  • Provide responsive support to the Minister Assisting on Queensland Flood Recovery and the Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, and the Australian Government Reconstruction Inspectorate.
  • Coordinate and maximise contribution of existing Commonwealth programs to the recovery effort.
  • Assure the Commonwealth that public funding of reconstruction efforts represents value for money.
  • Work collaboratively with other Commonwealth agencies to influence the development of policy to underpin sound and innovative reconstruction and recovery efforts.
Key performance indicators Resultsa
  • Ministers, Cabinet, the Regional Australia and Regional Development Committee (previously the National Disaster Recovery Committee) and the Australian Government Reconstruction Inspectorate are well informed by relevant and timely advice founded on robust analysis.
Achieved

The taskforce provided support to ministers, the Cabinet, the Regional Australia and Regional Development Committee and the Australian Government Reconstruction Inspectorate by providing accurate advice and analysis in a timely manner.

The taskforce provided secretariat support to the Inspectorate in conducting five inspection tours of projects in Queensland and Victoria and eight meetings, some of which were held in regional disaster-affected areas.

2011–12 result: Achieved
  • External evaluations and stakeholder assessments demonstrate that the Taskforce's role in coordinating contributions is supporting the recovery effort.
Achieved

The taskforce assisted to reduce expenditure by approximately $98 million by highlighting ineligible costs claimed under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements for 2010–11 disaster events.

The taskforce negotiated the establishment of an $80-million Betterment Fund that will help disaster-affected communities become more resilient by upgrading damaged critical infrastructure.

2011–12 result: Achieved
  • Percentage and number of projects are reviewed to conform with the approved value for money framework.
Achieved

In Queensland, 116 projects have been either directly selected or sampled for value-for-money review. Of these, 80 project reviews have been completed.

In Victoria, two projects were identified for review. Assessments are currently underway in accordance with the national partnership agreement between the Australian and Victorian governments.

The speed of information flow and the complexity of the projects being assessed impacted on the number of assessments completed.

2011–12 result: Achieved
  • Issues and risks in the delivery of Commonwealth effort are identified and addressed in a timely manner.
Achieved

As issues have been identified they have been managed through consultation with other agencies and stakeholders.

2011–12 result: Achieved

a Trend information provided where available.

Major achievements

Disaster recovery in Queensland and Victoria

A new National Partnership Agreement for Natural Disaster Reconstruction and Recovery was successfully negotiated between the Australian and Queensland governments to cover flooding and cyclones occurring between November 2010 and January 2013.

The National Disaster Recovery Taskforce negotiated a package of exceptional assistance measures to support the recovery of communities affected by the early 2013 flooding in Queensland. This included establishing an $80 million Betterment Fund for upgrading damaged critical infrastructure, which will help disaster-affected communities with any future flooding.

The taskforce assisted in reducing expenditure by:

  • highlighting ineligible claims worth approximately $98 million made under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements for 2010–11 weather events
  • negotiating a trial where Queensland local councils are reimbursed for their labour costs, when this approach provides better value for money in reconstruction projects, reducing reliance on external contract labour.

The taskforce provided secretariat support to the Australian Government Reconstruction Inspectorate to conduct four inspection tours of disaster-affected areas in Queensland and one in Victoria. The inspectorate also held eight meetings during the year, several of them in regional disaster-affected areas.

Honouring Exceptional Achievement

Australia Day Staff Awards

The department celebrates Australia Day by presenting awards to individuals who have made a significant contribution through excellence in service, leadership or outstanding contributions to the achievement of business objectives. The two award recipients for 2012–13 are listed below.

Cassie Alexander For outstanding work in the area of human resources to support staff and the department through machinery of government changes and the functional review process.

Linda Mallory For consistent commitment over a period of more than ten years, and a particularly challenging 2012, to deliver above and beyond through her outstanding client service and efficient administration of the Register of Cultural Organisations.

Image:  Australia Day award winners standing in the foyer of the departments offices. Australia Day awards winners Cassie Alexander (left) and Linda Mallory (right).

Australia Day awards winners Cassie Alexander (left) and Linda Mallory (right).

Regional Development Australia 2013 National Forum

Community representatives from across Australia's regions came together in June 2013 at the Regional Development Australia (RDA) National Forum in Canberra to exchange ideas about the challenges and opportunities of regional development.

Organised by the department, the annual forum is an opportunity for chairs, deputy chairs and executive officers of the 55 RDA committees to hear from experts in the field of regional development and share first-hand knowledge from across the national network.

The forum's agenda focused on human capital, sustainable communities and population change, access to international, national and regional markets, business competitiveness and integrated regional planning. These themes, outlined in the key determinants of long-term regional economic growth, provide a framework for analysing a region's characteristics, identifying economic priorities and delivering RDA regional plans.

This year's national forum emphasised the importance of local leadership and collaboration across communities to strengthen regional economies. It also highlighted the benefit of recognising each region's comparative advantage and using it to leverage economic growth.

Launched by the Secretary, Ms Glenys Beauchamp, the forum featured a range of speakers who presented case studies that were aligned with the key determinants of long-term economic growth in the regions and demonstrated practical solutions to issues.

RDA Adelaide Metropolitan's Gail Sulicich spoke on workforce development, using examples of the programs and initiatives that RDA Adelaide has supported to build resilience by addressing unemployment in key sectors of the state.

The Chair of RDA Sunshine Coast, Professor Max Standage, provided a practical example of how a partnership of seven RDAs in south-west Queensland and northern New South Wales is working together to explore international business opportunities.

RDA Hunter's Todd Williams explained how the Renew Newcastle initiative had reinvigorated Newcastle's city centre. Renew Newcastle encourages artists, cultural organisations and community groups to occupy disused and vacant buildings in Newcastle's central business district until they become commercially viable or are otherwise developed. The outcome is a vibrant precinct which attracts visitors and stimulates activity.

More information on the achievements of RDAs can be found at: www.booklet.rda.gov.au

Image: A departmental representative speaking with an RDA stakeholder at the 2013 RDA national forum.

The department's Director of the South Australian Engagement Team, Leon Mills, and the Chair of RDA Limestone Coast, Dr Ruth Schubert, participate in a sustainability workshop at the 2013 RDA National Forum.

The department's Director of the South Australian Engagement Team, Leon Mills, and the Chair of RDA Limestone Coast, Dr Ruth Schubert, participate in a sustainability workshop at the 2013 RDA National Forum.

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