Regional Development and Local Government

What this Chapter Covers

This chapter describes the Department's regional development and local government portfolio outcome, Outcome 3, and reports on performance for the individual programmes and administered items.

Each report includes:

  • an overview of the programme's functions and how the programme is delivered
  • a summary of the programme's results against key performance indicators, deliverables and targets
  • a summary of results for any administered items delivered by the programme in 2013–14, and
  • a detailed report on the programme's performance in 2013–14.

Outcome and Programmes

Figure 5.1 shows the relationships between Outcome 3 and its programmes, and identifies the business divisions responsible for delivering the programmes.

Figure 5.1 Outcome 3 and Programmes

Outcome 3
Strengthening the sustainability, capacity and diversity of regional economies including through facilitating local partnerships between all levels of government and local communities; and providing grants and financial assistance.
Program
3.1 Regional Development
Division or Office
  • Infrastructure Investment
  • Local Government and Territories
  • Policy and Research
3.2 Local Government
  • Local Government and Territories
  • Policy and Research

Programme 3.1—Regional Development

Highlights

The Australian Government established the Community Development Grants Programme in November 2013 to support needed infrastructure that promotes stable, secure and viable local and regional economies. The Department is administering 294 projects under this $314.2 million programme, with two additional projects being administered under the Tasmanian Jobs and Growth Package and a further seven projects transferred to other departments to administer.

The $106.0 million Tasmanian Jobs and Growth Package established in October 2013 complements the Australian Government's Economic Growth Plan for Tasmania; a package of measures aimed at stimulating Tasmania's economy by supporting growth and employment. Funding of $91.0 million from 2013–14 to 2016–17, administered by the Department, is being provided for up to 33 projects which support the economic development of Tasmania. Additional projects of the package are being delivered by other departments.

Funding agreements were implemented for all Regional Development Australia (RDA) committees and $17.7 million in contract payments were delivered. Three year regional plans for all of the 55 RDA committees were reviewed and approved. RDA committees were active in promoting regional economic development through a range of activities, including analysing investment and growth opportunities and working with industry to assist them to stimulate further investment and grow employment opportunities.

The Australian Government Reconstruction Inspectorate endorsed 82 reconstruction projects as representing value-for-money in Queensland and two in Victoria. The seventh report covering reconstruction activities was provided to the Prime Minister (this report covered the period from April to October 2013 in Queensland and Victoria) and a submission was provided to the Productivity Commission.

The Australian Government announced the Economic Growth Plan for Tasmania focusing on infrastructure, communications, jobs and technology during the 2013 Federal Election. The Department is responsible for coordinating the plan and worked with other Australian Government agencies to implement the plan.

The Australian Government released the Green Paper on Developing Northern Australia in June 2014.

The Department actively supported the development of the White Paper on Northern Australia, Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper and the Energy White Paper by providing staff on secondment as well as working closely with relevant portfolios to shape content and ensure strong policy outcomes.

Evidence-based advice was provided on regional economic development to ministers, other departments and other areas within the Department to support whole-of-government policy development. This included assistance provided to other portfolios in the development of Regional Australia Impact Statements.

The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics has completed and released Report 136 The evolution of Australian towns which studies regional change over the long term. This report looks at the economic processes operating in Australia's towns and identifies the fundamental drivers of economic change in the past and likely future directions.

Progress continued on northern Australia issues through the effective operation of the Northern Australia Sustainable Futures programme initiatives. Advice was provided to the Australian Government including long term options for the development of the region through the beef industry, water, resources and Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander economic development.

The preparation of a green paper on the development of northern Australia was supported including the establishment of the Northern Australia Strategic Partnership.

The north and northwest Queensland sustainable resource feasibility studies were launched by the Hon. Warren Truss MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development in Townsville on 10 June 2014. The Department financially supported the studies and was a member of the oversighting committee. The studies will assist potential investors to develop business cases.

Overview

Programme 3.1 was delivered through work of the Infrastructure Investment and the Local Government and Territories divisions, with input from the Policy and Research Division. This programme contributes to Outcome 3 through a range of regionally focused stakeholder consultation and engagement, research, policy development, and programme delivery activities.

Did you know?

At the beginning of the twentieth century, regional Australia had more people than all capital cities combined. This situation was overturned in 1954 and by 2006 there were around 13 million people living in capital cities and 7.5 million in regional Australia.

Source: The evolution of Australian towns.

Summary of Performance

Tables 5.1 and 5.2 summarise the Department's results in delivering Programme 3.1 against the key performance indicators and deliverables and their targets published in the 2013–14 Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements.

Table 5.1 Summary of performance-Programme 3.1 key performance indicators

Key performance indicator Target Result
Regional Ministerial Budget Statement agreed by Government. Statement delivered in accordance with Budget requirements. 2013–14
Achieved
2012–13* 2011–12* 2010–11*
Achieved.
Effective collaboration on regional policies in areas such as health, education, skills, infrastructure, environment and industry, ensuring major initiatives deliver benefits to regional communities. Liaise with Australian Government agencies to ensure consideration of regional impacts. 2013–14
Achieved
2012–13* 2011–12* 2010–11*
The Department worked across a wide range of portfolios and programmes to improve outcomes for regional communities.
Implementation by states, territories and local governments of the agreed regional economic development framework to build stronger and more sustainable regional communities; improving regional productivity and competitiveness; and improving identification, prioritisation and funding of regional infrastructure. Liaise with other levels of government so they are aware of the framework 2013–14
Achieved
2012–13* 2011–12* 2010–11*
The framework was distributed to states, territories and local governments for their use in regional development following agreement to the framework by the Council of Australian Governments.
Community Development Grants projects are implemented and support and strengthen regions. Projects that support and strengthen regions are delivered. 2013–14
Achieved
2012–13* 2011–12* 2010–11*
Announced in October 2013, this programme is now established, with the Department administering 294 projects. By 30 June 2014, 10 projects were completed with $4.4 million in payments made.
Provide timely advice to the Minister for the delivery of Regional Infrastructure Funds including the Community Development Grants, Regional Development Australia Fund and the Community Infrastructure Grants. Timely advice provided to the Australian Government on performance. 2013–14
Achieved
2012–13* 2011–12* 2010–11*
The Hon. Warren Truss MP, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development and the Hon. Jamie Briggs MP, Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development were provided with reliable, appropriate and timely advice on the performance of the regional grant programmes including due diligence and value-for-money assessments on proposals for Community Development Grants.
Establish the National Stronger Regions Fund. Evidence-based policy advice provided to Government to inform policy decisions on the fund. 2013–14
Achieved
2012–13* 2011–12* 2010–11*
The policy and framework for the National Stronger Regions Fund is being developed and the programme will be ready to commence on time. Funding of $1.0 billion for the programme over five years was provided for in the 2014–15 Budget.
Delivery of programmes to support the sustainable development of Northern Australia. Initiatives that improve economic productivity and sustainability in northern Australia are promoted and delivered. 2013–14
Achieved
2012–13* 2011–12* 2010–11*
The Northern Australia Sustainable Futures programme delivered research and analysis into a range of issues to support the sustainable development of northern Australia.
Northern Australia Ministerial Forum actions are implemented. Participation in the forum's initiatives by the Commonwealth and relevant states and territories is now entrenched and reflects the integrated nature of regional development issues. 2013–14
Achieved
2012–13* 2011–12* 2010–11*
The Northern Australia Ministerial Forum has been replaced by the Northern Australia Strategic Partnership comprising the Prime Minister, premiers of Queensland, Western Australia and the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory.
Implementation of initiatives developed for key priority areas including those related to Murray-Darling Basin, Latrobe Valley, Tasmania and Northern Australia. Ensure projects that have received funding are delivered on time and on budget. 2013–14
Achieved
2012–13* 2011–12* 2010–11*

The Latrobe Valley Economic Diversification Plan, the South Australia River Murray Sustainability Plan and the Tasmanian Jobs and Growth Package are well established with the programmes on track to complete as expected.

The Australian Government is continuing discussion with the Queensland, New South Wales and South Australian governments to finalise agreement on this funding package of $97.5 million. Victoria has entered into a partnership agreement.

The Australian Government and the Australian Government Reconstruction Inspectorate are well informed by relevant and timely advice about reconstruction efforts in Queensland and Victoria. Inspectorate and Australian Government accept assurance findings. Prime Minister to accept six monthly reports. 2013–14
Substantially
Achieved
2012–13
Achieved
2011–12
Achieved
2010–11*
The Australian Government Reconstruction Inspectorate has provided the Prime Minister with the seventh report covering reconstruction activities during April to October 2013 in Queensland and Victoria.
Percentage and number of projects are reviewed to conform with the approved value for money framework. 120 project reviews completed under the Queensland National Partnership Agreements and two project reviews completed under the Victorian National Partnership Agreement. 2013–14
Achieved
2012–13
Achieved
2011–12
Achieved
2010–11*

The Department is on track to meet the requirements under the Queensland National Partnership Agreements with 120 of the 190 project reviews completed as at 30 June 2014.

Project reviews have been completed for two of the three projects identified for review under the Victorian National Partnership Agreement. The third project is still underway and will be reviewed upon completion consistent with the Victorian National Partnership Agreement.

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

Issues and risks in the delivery of Commonwealth effort are identified and addressed in a timely manner. Monthly meetings to identify issues and risk and ongoing reporting to the Senior Executive to monitor timely action. 2013–14
Achieved
2012–13
Achieved
2011–12
Achieved
2010–11*
Ongoing reporting and monitoring of targets has enabled early identification of issues and risks to delivery. As issues have been identified they have been managed through consultation with other agencies and stakeholders.
Regional Development Australia committees work with key regional stakeholders and local governments to develop a regionally supported plan. Each region has a plan endorsed by stakeholders that identifies key economic development priorities and is kept current. 2013–14
Achieved
2012–13
Achieved
2011–12
Substantially
Achieved
2010–11
Substantially
Achieved
All 55 RDA committees refreshed their regional plans and all regional plans were endorsed by governments.
Regional Development Australia plans are recognised and utilised by Commonwealth, state and local governments in developing and reflecting local community priorities. 55 RDA plans are received and reviewed. 2013–14
Substantially
Achieved
2012–13
Achieved
2011–12
Achieved
2010–11
Substantially
Achieved
55 RDA plans were received and reviewed. RDA plans have been used to inform government programmes and initiatives and have been used to assist in providing advice to government on local priorities.

Result Key
Achieved All targets for 2013–14 were met or exceeded.
Substantially achieved Targets were mostly met, and any issues are being managed.
Partially achieved Some targets were met, and any issues are being managed.
Not achieved None or minimal progress was made against targets in 2013–14.
* Result trend data not available.

Table 5.2 Summary of performance-Programme 3.1 deliverables

Deliverable Target Result
Provide advice and build evidence base to support the delivery of the Government's commitment to improved outcomes for regional Australia. Ongoing provision of high quality advice to the Australian Government. The Department worked closely with information services providers, such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics, to improve the range and accessibility of socio-economic data for regions to support major policy considerations.
Collaboration with, and coordination of, Commonwealth agencies to implement regional policies and programmes. Proactive liaison with Commonwealth agencies to ensure a whole-of-government approach to regional Australia. The Department worked across a wide range of portfolios and programmes to improve outcomes for regional communities.
Progress regional initiatives across all three tiers of government to improve regional economic development and infrastructure planning and provision. Engagement across the tiers of Government on regional initiatives that promote sustainable economic development. The Department continues to work productively with other tiers of government as required on issues of regional economic policy and infrastructure development.
Deliver Regional and Rural Research and Development Grants to provide funding for research into issues affecting Australia's regions, and to help communicate this research to national and regional decision makers. Ensure projects that have received funding are delivered on time and on budget.

No funds have been expended under the Regional and Rural Research and Development Grants programme since 2011–12.

Previous research into issues affecting Australia's regions continues to contribute to policy development and is communicated to national and regional decision makers.

Support needed infrastructure that promotes stable, secure and viable local and regional economies through the Community Development Grants Programme. Ensure projects that have received funding are delivered on time and on budget. All contracted Community Development Grants Programme projects are being delivered in accordance with the terms and conditions of their funding agreement.
Establish the National Stronger Regions Fund which will invest in local capital works projects to improve local communities across Australia. Ensure projects that have received funding are delivered on time and on budget. The policy and framework for the programme are in place and $1.0 billion was provided in the 2014–15 Budget. Funds will be available from 1 July 2015.
Enhance engagement with Commonwealth, state, territory and local governments, and regional communities, to better identify issues affecting, and opportunities for, regional Australia. Ongoing liaison with state and local governments to shape regional economic policy. Liaison has continued with states and local governments as required on issues of regional economic policy.
Deliver funding to strengthen Regional Development Australia committees to support sustainable development. Satisfactory delivery of activity against contract milestones and payment of funding to RDA committees. Funding of $17.7 million was provided to 55 RDA committees in 2013–14. RDA committees successfully delivered against contract milestones.
Provide advice to the Government concerning northern Australia issues including long term options for the development of the region such as through the beef industry, water, resources and Indigenous economic development. Ongoing management of Northern Australia Sustainable Future programme initiatives.

In 2013–14 the Northern Australia Sustainable Futures programme delivered research and analysis into a range of issues to support the sustainable development of northern Australia, including:

  • a preliminary assessment of the viability of the proposed Ord River Irrigation Expansion Stage 3 project to extend the current Ord River Irrigation scheme into the Northern Territory
  • logistical and productivity improvement opportunities in the northern pastoral industry
  • assessing the potential for using irrigation mosaics to support the intensification and diversification of beef production in northern Australia
  • a regionally-focused examination of opportunities and constraints to the development of new food and fibre industries in the north, and
  • the North Queensland Irrigated Agriculture Strategy.
Continue to progress Northern Australia issues, effective operation of the Northern Australia Ministerial Forum and Northern Australia Sustainable Future programme initiatives. Ongoing management of Northern Australia Sustainable Futures initiatives and assisting in the development of the White Paper on the development of northern Australia.

Ongoing delivery of Northern Australia Sustainable Future initiatives.

Continuation of the Northern Australia Ministerial Forum responsibilities through the white paper process and the establishment of the Northern Australia Strategic Partnership.

Develop and implement the Tasmanian jobs and Growth Package as part of the Government's Economic Growth Plan for Tasmania. Ensure projects that have received funding are delivered on time and on budget. All contracted Tasmanian Jobs and Growth Package projects are being delivered in accordance with the terms and conditions of their funding agreement.
Support the Latrobe Valley region of Victoria through the Latrobe Valley Economic Diversification Programme. Ensure projects that have received funding are delivered on time and on budget. All contracted Latrobe Valley Economic Diversification Plan projects are being delivered in accordance with the terms and conditions of their funding agreement.
Implement the Murray Darling Regional Economic Diversification Programme to strengthen and diversify the communities that may be affected by the Murray Darling Basin Plan. Ensure projects that have received funding are delivered on time and on budget. The Australian Government is continuing discussions with the Queensland, New South Wales and South Australian governments to finalise agreement on this funding package of $97.5 million. Victoria has entered into a partnership agreement.
Support the development of the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia. High quality and timely support provided to the taskforce responsible for the development of the Northern Australia White Paper.

A number of departmental staff have been seconded to the Northern Australia Taskforce (located in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet) to work on the white paper process.

The Office of Northern Australia has provided the Taskforce with high quality and timely support including research and access to networks of subject matter experts.

Provide responsive support to the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development and the Australian Government Reconstruction Inspectorate. Timely advice on reconstruction progress. The Hon. Warren Truss MP, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development has been supported to make informed policy decisions on exceptional circumstances assistance requests submitted by the Queensland Government. The Australian Government Reconstruction Inspectorate has been supported to make informed decisions on value-for-money assessments across the reconstruction programmes.
Assure the Commonwealth that public funding of reconstruction efforts represents value-for-money. 106 assurance reviews to be commenced and completed. The Australian Government Reconstruction Inspectorate has endorsed 82 reconstruction projects as representing value-for-money in Queensland and two in Victoria. Availability of information has impacted the completion of reviews.

Table 5.3 provides a summary of the results achieved by each of the administered items under Programme 3.1.

Table 5.3 Summary of performance—Programme 3.1 administered items

Administered Item Result
Boyer Pulp Mill—Structural Assistance The Australian Government provided $28.0 million towards this $83.0 million project to assist with structural adjustment.
Community Development Grants Fund Announced in October 2013 this programme is now established with the Department administering 294 projects. Ten individual projects are already completed with $4.4 million in payments made.
Community Infrastructure Grants Of the 88 projects being administered by the Department 71 are completed with a total $152.2 million made.
Latrobe Valley economic diversification Two projects are being administered under this programme. The Warragul Station Precinct has received payment of $1.4 million towards the $3.4 million Australian Government contribution. The Moe Station Precinct will receive $7.5 million of which $1.0 million has been paid.
Murray-Darling Basin Regional Economic Diversification Programme The Australian Government is continuing discussion with the Queensland, New South Wales and South Australian governments to finalise agreement on this funding package of $97.5 million. Victoria has entered into a partnership agreement and has received $2.6 million of the $25.0 million offered in assistance.
Northern Australia Sustainable Futures Completion of a number of initiatives under Northern Australia Sustainable Futures (as indicated above) with implementation of the programme continuing into 2014–15.
Regional Development Australia committees All 55 RDA committees have three-year regional plans in place that identify key economic development priorities. The regional plans were developed with state and local governments and regional stakeholders and are recognised by a range of Australian Government agencies as a reliable source of information. Advice to the Australian Government and effective engagement with diverse regional stakeholders on matters affecting regional Australia was delivered. RDA committees worked with key stakeholders to progress local activities that will assist regional economic growth and development. Appointments have been made to ensure that RDA committees continue to operate effectively.
Regional Development Australia Fund The Department continues to administer the Regional Development Australia Fund which is delivering nearly $425.0 million in funding for 145 projects to 30 June 2017.A total of 42 projects are completed and payment of $255.8 million has been made to 30 June 2014.
Regional Development Projects in Northern Australia The Department worked with project proponents during 2013–14. Funding was reprioritised for some projects in late 2013.
South Australia Economic Development Programme

The $25.0 million South Australian Regional Economic Development Programme comprises of three initiatives:

  • $7.5 million to redevelop the Loxton Research Centre
  • $5.0 million for an industry-led research subprogramme, and
  • $12.5 million for a regional development and innovation subprogramme.

Payments of $7.0 million have been made towards this programme.

Tasmanian Jobs and Growth Package Total payments of $5.1 million have been made towards the $91.0 million administered by the Department for up to 33 projects. Additional projects of the package are being delivered by other agencies.

Note: The budget and actual expenditure for each administered item is listed in Appendix A.

CASE STUDY

The Evolution of Australian Towns

In 2014 the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics released a report, Report 136 The evolution of Australian towns which examined the long term shifts in the nation's settlement patterns by scrutinising the number, location and populations of towns, across three censuses (1911, 1961 and 2006).

Australian towns have always been subject to significant economic, social and technological changes. These changes are usually viewed through the prism of short term industry economics or localised events. This report takes a different view and emphasises spatial change and looking across all of regional Australia over the whole twentieth century. It provides context and a rationale for the change in fortunes of Australian towns over the past century.

The report identifies national trends and the long term impacts through the interaction of geography, existing infrastructure, competition, technology, transport, investment, longer life expectancy and wealth in shaping settlement patterns. Notable broad trends identified include the shift from small towns towards larger ones which occurred right across Australia (see Figure 5.2) and the establishment and growth of towns and cities in coastal Australia in response to natural and man-made endowments.

Figure 5.2 Population by town size in 1911 and 2006

Note: Data does not include major capitals (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth)

Source: The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics analysis of the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census results

A key contributor to this change has been improvements in personal transport. Car usage has been an important mechanism for lifestyle change. The better mobility taken for granted when shopping or going to work has reshaped towns and regional centres. This trend will also have a strong implication for future growth and development, as people increasingly separate their place of residence from their place of work, which leads to a stronger focus on amenity and services as success factors for modern towns.

Detailed Report on Performance

The following report is against the components of Programme 3.1 in the 2013–14 Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements.

(a) Regional Policy

The Department continues to provide advice to all portfolios across the Australian Government during the policy development cycle to support consideration of regional-specific impacts of Australian Government policies. Regional Australia Impact Statement Guidelines were launched on the Department's external web site in January 2014. The Department regularly responds to requests for advice on forthcoming submissions, new policy proposals and general enquires about the Regional Australia Impact process.

The Department also coordinated the production of Building Stronger Regional Communities providing the Budget Outcomes 2014–15 across all Australian Government portfolios. The publication provides a comprehensive overview of new and existing Budget initiatives across the Australian Government which benefit Australia's regions.

Tailored information was provided to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to inform the development of the issues paper and the green paper for the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, particularly around current infrastructure policy, prioritisation of investment, current investment programmes and regional development in the agricultural context.

The Department assisted the Deputy Prime Minister in developing the policy parameters and draft guidelines for the National Stronger Regions Fund which will set out the eligibility requirements and application process for the National Stronger Regions Fund. This work included the development of a monitoring and evaluation framework to guide a future assessment of the programme against its objectives.

(b) Regional and Local Infrastructure Programmes

The Department has completed the policy and framework development for the National Stronger Regions Fund programme in anticipation of a call for applications prior to the release of funding on 1 July 2015.

Under the Community Development Grants programme 294 projects will receive $314.2 million for investment in capital infrastructure. Ten projects are completed and $4.4 million has been paid.

Through the Regional Development Australia Fund the Australian Government is delivering nearly $425.0 million in funding for 145 projects to 30 June 2017. A total of 42 projects are completed and payment of $255.8 million has been made to 30 June 2014.

Through the Community Infrastructure Grants programme $167.8 million in funding is being provided to 88 projects. Of these 71 projects are now completed with a total of $152.2 million paid to 30 June 2014.

(c) Northern Australia Sustainable Futures

The Northern Australia Sustainable Futures programme was established in 2010 as an initial response to the recommendations of the Northern Australia Land and Water Taskforce. The programme has focused on addressing key challenges in regional development in a cooperative manner between the Australian, Queensland, Western Australian and the Northern Territory governments.

In the 2013–14 Budget additional funding was committed for the Office of Northern Australia to continue the Northern Australia Sustainable Futures programme until June 2015.

The Northern Australia Sustainable Futures programme addresses the need for:

  • national leadership and inter-jurisdictional dialogue and collaboration
  • enhanced Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander community engagement in policy and planning
  • development of sustainable career and business opportunities for Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders in northern and remote communities
  • improved understanding of regional infrastructure investment priorities
  • improved water management, and
  • improved understanding of opportunities and risks to sustainable development in the northern beef industry.

Over 2013–14 the Northern Australia Sustainable Futures programme delivered research and analysis into a range of issues to support the sustainable development of northern Australia. These are set out below.

  • Preliminary assessment of the viability of the Ord River Irrigation Expansion Stage 3 proposal and the merits of Australian Government support. The Office of Northern Australia has completed a preliminary assessment of the proposal, with assistance provided by Northern Territory and Western Australia officials as well as the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
  • Developing detailed modelling and scenario analysis capacity to identify logistical and productivity improvements in the northern pastoral industry. This work, which is being led by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), was jointly funded with the Queensland, Western Australian and Northern Territory governments. The results of this work were released in March 2014.
  • Assessing the potential for using irrigation mosaics to support the intensification and diversification of beef production in northern Australia. The results of this CSIRO project were released in March 2014.
  • A regionally-focused examination of opportunities and constraints to the development of new food and fibre industries in the north. This project is being led by Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resource Economics and Sciences and CSIRO with funding provided by the Australian, Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia governments, Rural Industries Research Development Corporation and the Pilbara RDA. This project is expected to be completed in July 2014.
  • Delivery of the North Queensland Irrigated Agriculture Strategy to build capacity for future commercial agricultural development in the north. As part of this strategy, the Australian Government commissioned the Flinders and Gilbert Agricultural Resource Assessments. These consisted of a two-year study by CSIRO with input from researchers in the Queensland Government and TropWATER at James Cook University. The North Queensland Irrigated Agriculture Strategy was completed in December 2013 and released on 6 February 2014.

(d) Regional Initiatives

The Latrobe Valley Economic Diversification Plan, the South Australia River Murray Sustainability Plan and the Tasmanian Jobs and Growth Package are well established with the programmes on track to complete as expected.

The Australian Government is continuing discussion with the Queensland, New South Wales and South Australian governments to finalise agreement on this funding package of $97.5 million. Victoria has entered into a partnership agreement.

The Department worked collaboratively with other Australian Government agencies to implement the Economic Growth Plan for Tasmania.

(e) Regional Development Australia Committees

All 55 RDA committees have three-year regional plans in place that identify key economic development priorities. The regional plans were developed with state and local governments and regional stakeholders and are recognised by a range of Australian Government agencies as a reliable source of information. Advice to the Australian Government and effective engagement with diverse regional stakeholders on matters affecting regional Australia was delivered. RDA committees worked with key stakeholders to progress local activities that will assist regional economic growth and development. Appointments have been made to ensure that RDA committees continue to operate effectively.

Did you know?

While the population share of regional Australia relative to Australia's capital cities has declined from 63 per cent to 34 per cent since 1911, over the same time period, the population share of Australians living in regional cities has more than doubled.

Source: The evolution of Australian

CASE STUDY

Building Stronger Regional Communities

a photograph of a road with trees on both sides

The Building Stronger Regional Communities: Budget Outcomes 2014–15, released in June 2014, highlights key Australian Government investments with relevance to regional Australia. The publication outlines each Australian Government portfolio's role in regional Australia and describes the new and existing Budget initiatives that will benefit regional communities, with a particular focus on infrastructure as a driver of regional development.

Key items include:

  • the Department's commitment of $50.0 billion for investment in infrastructure—the most significant investment in infrastructure in Australia's history
  • over $2.34 billion in water infrastructure upgrades for the Murray-Darling Basin
  • $50.0 million for the 20 Million Trees programme that will provide job opportunities for Australians while also providing solutions to local conservation needs
  • $320.0 million for a comprehensive drought assistance package to help businesses, families and communities affected by drought, and
  • $18.2 million under the Regional Aviation Access Programme for infrastructure upgrades to regional airstrips across Australia.

The Department's Policy and Research Division worked closely with 16 other Australian Government agencies to coordinate production of the publication. In addition to detailed descriptions of each portfolio's initiatives, the publication also outlines several cross-portfolio white papers aimed at informing policy that will have benefits for the entire nation as well as regional Australia. These include the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, the Agriculture Competitiveness White Paper, the Energy White Paper and the White Paper on the Reform of the Federation.

The publication recognises the role of regional areas in overcoming Australia's challenges and driving economic development. It describes that all changes to policies and programmes will be informed by the Australian Government's overarching focus on well-informed investments and reducing unnecessary red and green tape. This will improve productivity growth and enhance competitiveness across the Australian economy. The publication is available at www.regional.gov.au/regional/publications.

Programme 3.2—Local Government

Highlights

In 2013–14 $1.2 billion in untied general purpose and local roads funding was provided to 565 local government bodies across Australia under the Local Government Financial Assistance Grants programme. The 2010–11 Local Government National Report was presented for tabling in Parliament on 29 January 2014 and drafting of the 2011–12 Local Government National Report commenced.

The National Awards for Local Government were held in conjunction with the Australian Local Government Association National General Assembly on 17 June 2014. The awards celebrate the work of local governments in contributing to the national agenda by building a stronger, more productive and diverse economy and delivering better services at a local community level.

The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government completed research and delivered a range of educational products that will continue to professionalise the local government workforce and build its capacity in key areas such as financial, asset and workforce management.

Overview

Programme 3.2 was delivered through the work of the Local Government and Territories Division, with input from the Policy and Research Division. This programme contributes to Outcome 3 through a range of local government activities by working with state, territory and local governments to progress a reform agenda focused on building local government capacity and performance and provision of community infrastructure.

Summary of Performance

Tables 5.4 and 5.5 summarise the Department's results in delivering Programme 3.2 against the key performance indicators and deliverables and their targets published in the 2013–14 Portfolio Additional Estimate Statements.

Table 5.4 Summary of performance-Programme 3.2 key performance indicators

Key performance indicator Target Result
Local Government Financial Assistance Grants programme review responded to. A response is provided to government. 2013–14
Not Achieved
2012–13* 2011–12* 2010–11*
The Australian Government is yet to respond to the Commonwealth Grants Commission's findings on the Local Government Financial Assistance Grants Review. The review was provided to the Treasurer on 13 December 2013.
Consultation finalised with the states, territories and local governments on local government infrastructure financing options. Eight consultations will be conducted on local government infrastructure financing options. 2013–14
Achieved
2012–13
Partially
Achieved
2011–12* 2010–11*
This activity was completed in April 2013.
Deliver a national civics education campaign and implement a referendum on the recognition of local government in the Australian Constitution. A national civics education campaign will be delivered. 2013–14
Achieved
2012–13* 2011–12* 2010–11*
The Department was funded $21.6 million to implement the referendum and to undertake a civics education campaign to better inform the voting public of the proposed reform to the Constitution and the "yes" campaign to be managed by the Australian Local Government Association. The referendum into recognition of local government was unable to proceed due to the timing of the 2013 Federal Election which was announced on 4 August 2013. Consequently, all activity related to the referendum ceased from 5 August 2013. The following unspent funding has been returned to the Australian Government: $9.2 million of the $10.0 million for the civics education campaign; $0.6 million of the $1.6 million to implement the referendum; and $6.6 million of the $10.0 million provided to the Australian Local Government Association for the "yes" campaign.
Participation in National Awards for Local Government is high and used as a tool for promoting innovation and best-practice service delivery. Awards are delivered as part of the Australian Local Government Association General Assembly programme. 2013–14
Achieved
2012–13
Achieved
2011–12
Achieved
2010–11
Achieved
The National Awards for Local Government were held in conjunction with the Australian Local Government Association National General Assembly dinner at Parliament House on 17 June 2014. The awards celebrate the work of local governments in contributing to the national agenda by building a stronger, more productive and diverse economy and delivering better services at a local community level.
Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government contributes to innovative ideas for local government. A contract is in place with the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government to produce a range of reports to build local government capability. 2013–14
Achieved
2012–13* 2011–12* 2010–11*
Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government has undertaken research and delivered a range of educational products that will continue to professionalise the local government workforce and build its capacity in key areas such as financial, asset and workforce management.
Facilitate the Australian Council of Local Government meeting in 2013–14. A meeting is convened in 2013–14. 2013–14
Not Achieved
2012–13
Achieved
2011–12
Achieved
2010–11
Substantially
Achieved
No meetings of the Australian Council of Local Government were held in 2013–14.

Result Key
Achieved All targets for 2013–14 were met or exceeded.
Substantially achieved Targets were mostly met, and any issues are being managed.
Partially achieved Some targets were met, and any issues are being managed.
Not achieved None or minimal progress was made against targets in 2013–14.
* Result trend data not available.

Table 5.5 Summary of performance-Programme 3.2 deliverables

Deliverable Target Result
Build capacity in local government, including through the ongoing operation of the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government. A contract is in place with the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government to produce a range of reports to build local government capability. The Local Government Reform Programme ceased and all outstanding projects were completed. The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government contract expired on 30 June 2014 with the final completion report due on 15 September 2014.
Respond to the review of the Local Government Financial Assistance Grants programme in conjunction with state, territory and local governments. A response is provided by government. The Local Government Financial Assistance Grant programme review has been completed by the Commonwealth Grants Commission and the findings were provided to the Treasurer on 13 December 2013.
Administer the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995. Funding delivered in accordance with relevant legislation and in a manner that reflects the outcomes of the Financial Assistance Grants review. $1.2 billion in untied general purpose and local roads funding was provided to 565 local government bodies across Australia under the Local Government Financial Assistance Grant programme. This total does not include an accelerated payment of two quarters of the 2013–14 Financial Assistance Grant entitlement that was paid in June 2013. All payments were made in accordance with the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995.
Administer supplementary funding to South Australian councils for local roads. Four payments are made in accordance with relevant legislation. South Australian local governing bodies received four payments totalling $17.8 million in supplementary local road funding. This programme ceased at 30 June 2014.
Prepare the annual Local Government National Report. The 2010–11 Local Government National Report is tabled in Parliament. The 2010–11 Local Government National Report was presented for tabling in Parliament on 29 January 2014 in accordance with the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995. Preparation of the 2011–12 Local Government National Report commenced.
Conduct the National Awards for Local Government. The National Awards for Local Government are conducted. The 2014 National Awards were held on 17 June 2014 and continued to showcase the work of local governments that address key national priorities, support diverse communities and deliver benefits to local regions. Six category awards were presented along with one national award.

Did you know?

The Australian Government has provided over $41.0 billion in Financial Assistance Grants to local government since 1974–75 (including 2013–14).

Source: Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development website.

Table 5.6 provides a summary of the results achieved by each of the administered items under Programme 3.2.

Table 5.6 Summary of performance-Programme 3.2 administered items

Administered Item Result
Local Government Financial Assistance Grants

$1.2 billion in untied general purpose and local roads funding was provided to 565 local government bodies across Australia under the Local Government Financial Assistance Grant programme. This total does not include an accelerated payment of two quarters of the 2013–14 Financial Assistance Grant entitlement that was paid in June 2013. All payments, including quarterly payments, were made in accordance with the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995.

The 2010–11 Local Government National Report was presented for tabling in Parliament on 29 January 2014 and drafting of the 2011–12 Local Government National Report commenced.

Local Government Reform Fund The Local Government Reform Fund ceased at the completion of 30 June 2013 and surplus funds of $1.2 million in 2013–14 were returned to consolidated revenue.
Referendum on the recognition of local government in the Australian Constitution The Department continued to support local government in the preparation for the proposed referendum on the recognition of local government in the Australian Constitution until the activity ceased on 5 August 2013 following the calling of the 2013 Federal Election. As the 7 September 2013 election date fell within the two months and eighteen days required for the passage of the Constitution Alteration (Local Government) Bill 2013 through the Australian Parliament it was no longer possible to hold the referendum in conjunction with the election. The following unspent funding has been returned to the Australian Government: $9.2 million of the $10.0 million for the civics education campaign; $0.6 million of the $1.6 million to implement the referendum; and $6.6 million of the $10.0 million provided to Australian Local Government Association for the "yes" campaign.
Supplementary funding to South Australian councils for local roads South Australian local governing bodies received $17.8 million in supplementary local road funding. All payments made in accordance with the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995. This programme ceased at 30 June 2014.

Note: The budget and actual expenditure for each administered item is listed in Appendix A.

Detailed Report on Performance

The following report is against the Programme 3.2 objective in the 2013–14 Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements.

Untied general purpose and local roads funding of $1.2 billion was provided to 565 local government bodies across Australia under the Local Government Financial Assistance Grant programme. All payments, including quarterly payments, were made in accordance with the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995.

South Australian local governing bodies received $17.8 million in supplementary local road funding.

The 2010–11 Local Government National Report was presented for tabling in Parliament on 29 January 2014.

The National Awards for Local Government were held in conjunction with the Australian Local Government Association National General Assembly dinner at Parliament House on 17 June 2014. The Awards celebrate the work of local governments in contributing to the national agenda by building a stronger more productive and diverse economy and delivering better services at a local community level. Entries were received across six categories: arts; disability access and inclusion; multiculturalism; youth employment; Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander recognition; and productivity and regional development. Four of the category winners entered projects targeted towards Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders including the National Winner for Excellence in Local Government, the Latrobe City Council, for the development and delivery of an Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander youth employment programme.

The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government completed research and delivered a range of educational products that will continue to professionalise the local government workforce and build its capacity in key areas such as financial, asset and workforce management.

CASE STUDY

National Awards for Local Government

three honeycomb shaped photos showing a city landscape, a farm and a sheep farm

The National Awards for Local Government is an annual celebration of Australian local government achievements. The awards recognise the important role of local governments in delivering targeted quality services to Australians in urban and regional communities.

Through the awards the Australian Government celebrates local government projects that are innovative, deliver better outcomes for communities, have the potential to be rolled out across the country, and that make a meaningful difference.

The awards are administered by the Department with support from other Australian Government departments. This year there were six sponsored award categories:

  • Arts Animates (sponsored by the Ministry for Arts in the Attorney-General's Department)
  • Disability Access and Inclusion (sponsored by the Department of Social Services)
  • Improve Productivity and Regional Development (sponsored by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development)
  • Multicultural Australia-Strength in Diversity (sponsored by the Department of Social Services)
  • Promoting Indigenous Recognition (sponsored by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet), and
  • Youth Employment (sponsored by the Department of Education).

In addition to the category winners, one entry is awarded the National Award for Excellence in Local Government. This year the winner was Latrobe City Council for the Steps to the Future Indigenous Employment Program. Focusing on reconciliation and commitment to local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Latrobe City Council has developed an exemplary programme to address youth unemployment and the disadvantages facing Indigenous communities.

The Steps to the Future programme delivers employment outcomes using a mentoring process that fosters the development of role models for youth in the community. It enables participants to choose a pathway towards a career opportunity of their choice and has proven to be a powerful tool that has increased Indigenous employment and career development.

All award entries showcased high-impact initiatives that have been changing people's lives and delivering real outcomes. The Deputy Prime Minister congratulated the winners at the awards ceremony in June 2014 for their hard work, success and innovation.

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Last Updated: 3 February, 2015