Chapter 5: Regional Development and Local Government

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

Programme 3.1 Regional Development contributes to Outcome 3 through a range of regionally focused stakeholder consultation and engagement, research, policy development, and programme delivery activities.

Programme 3.2 Local Government contributes to Outcome 3 through providing direct financial support and promoting better practice through the National Local Government Awards.

Programme 3.1—Regional Development

In Focus

Regional Policy

  • The Department coordinated production of the 2015–16 Regional Ministerial Statement: Partnership for Regional Growth, released in the May 2015 Budget. The publication is a comprehensive statement of Australian Government measures which impact regional Australia.
  • A new publication was launched titled Progress in Australian Regions: Yearbook 2014. The yearbook charts the development of Australia's regions over time using indicators in the domains of economic, social, environmental and governance activity. In January 2015 the yearbook was distributed to all local government authorities in Australia and Regional Development Australia committees.

Regional and Local Infrastructure Programmes

  • The Department implemented the $1.0 billion National Stronger Regions Fund with 51 successful applications receiving $212.3 million from round one announced in May 2015.
  • Under the Community Development Grants programme, 87 out of 288 projects have been completed and $65.0 million out of $350.9 million has been administered for investment in capital infrastructure.
  • Under the $106.0 million Tasmanian Jobs and Growth Package, eight out of 31 projects have been completed and $37.7 million out of $89.0 million had been administered at 30 June 2015.
  • Under the Regional Development Australia Fund, 85 of 145 projects have been completed and $349.6 million out of nearly $425.0 million has been paid.
  • Under the Latrobe Valley Economic Diversification programme the Warragul Station Precinct received milestone payments of $2.7 million towards the $3.4 million Australian Government contribution. The Moe Station Precinct has received $2.1 million of the total $7.5 million. Both projects are expected to be completed by 30 June 2016.
  • Under the $25.0 million Regional Economic Development element of the South Australian River Murray Sustainability Agreement, payments of $11.5 million have been made to 30 June 2015 and all projects are on track to be completed by 30 June 2017.
  • The Murray Darling Basin-Regional Economic Diversification package is on track with New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria selecting projects within their jurisdictions to assist communities increase economic diversification and adjust to a water constrained environment.

Northern Australia Sustainable Futures

  • The Australian Government released the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia on 18 June 2015. The white paper is a vision—and a plan—to unlock the great potential and opportunities of the north. It includes measures across six key areas: simpler land arrangements to support investment; developing water resources; growing the north as a business, trade and investment gateway; investing in infrastructure to lower business and household costs; reducing barriers to employing people; and improving governance.

National Disaster Recovery Taskforce

  • The Australian Government Reconstruction Inspectorate completed its work which included assessing a total of 204 projects across the Queensland and Victorian reconstruction programmes. The Inspectorate's main achievement was its finding of value-for-money to a level of 95 per cent confidence for Queensland. The 10th and final report, provided to the then Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott MP, on 30 June 2015, included the final set of progress and project assessments together with lessons learnt from the inspectorate's oversight of the reconstruction programmes over more than four years.

Regional Development Australia Committees

  • In October 2014 the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, the Hon Warren Truss MP, announced a number of reforms to the Regional Development Australia programme, including a new focus on regional economic development, and simplifying the appointment of committee members. In addition to implementing these reforms, the Department negotiated variations of funding agreements to include refined outcomes and key performance areas. Committee membership was refreshed, with over 340 new chairs, deputy chairs and committee members appointed.

Summary of Performance

Table 5.1 Programme 3.1 key performance indicators

Key performance indicatorTargetResult
Regional Ministerial Budget Statement agreed by the Australian Government. Statement delivered in accordance with Budget requirements. 2014–15
Achieved
2013–14
Achieved
2012–13* 2011–12*
The 2015–16 Regional Ministerial Statement: Partnership for Regional Growth was released on Budget night.
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. 2014–15
Achieved
2013–14
Achieved
2012–13* 2011–12*
The Department worked across a wide range of portfolios and programmes to identify regional impacts and improve outcomes for regional communities.
Tasmanian Jobs and Growth Package projects are implemented to support economic growth. Ensure that projects that received funding are delivered on time and on budget. 2014–15
Achieved
2013–14* 2012–13* 2011–12*
The Tasmanian Jobs and Growth Package is well established with the programme on track for completion.
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. 2014–15
Substantially achieved
2013–14
Achieved
2012–13* 2011–12*
The Murray–Darling Basin–Regional Economic Diversification package, South Australia River Murray Sustainability initiative and Latrobe Valley Economic Diversification plan projects approved for funding are on track to be completed on time and on budget.
Regional Development Australia Fund projects are implemented and support and strengthen regions. Projects that support and strengthen regions are delivered. 2014–15
Achieved
2013–14* 2012–13* 2011–12*
The Regional Development Australia Fund is well established and on track for completion.
Community Infrastructure Grants projects are implemented and local priorities met. Ensure projects that have received funding are delivered on time and on budget. 2014–15
Achieved
2013–14* 2012–13* 2011–12*
The Australian Government funded activity for the 88 projects being administered by the Department. The projects are now completed with a total $167.0 million dollars in grants being made.
Provide timely advice to the Minister for the delivery of regional infrastructure funds including the Community Development Grants, Tasmanian Jobs and Growth Package, Regional Development Australia Fund and the Community Infrastructure Grants. Timely advice provided to the Australian Government on performance. 2014–15
Achieved
2013–14
Achieved
2012–13* 2011–12*
The Deputy Prime Minister 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. This included due diligence and value-for-money assessments on proposals for Community Development Grants.
Deliver programmes that contribute to the sustainable development of northern Australia. Initiatives that improve economic productivity and sustainability in northern Australia are promoted and delivered. 2014–15
Achieved
2013–14
Achieved
2012–13* 2011–12*
Research and analysis were undertaken into a range of issues to support the sustainable development of northern Australia.

The Office of Northern Australia led coordination and engagement with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to develop the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia.
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. 2014–15
Achieved
2013–14
Substantially achieved
2012–13
Substantially achieved
2011–12
Achieved
The Australian Government Reconstruction Inspectorate found that value-for-money had been achieved for expenditure on the relief and recovery efforts for natural disasters experienced in Queensland between 2010 and 2013. Three reports were submitted to the Prime Minister including the 10th and final report.
Percentage and number of projects are reviewed to conform with the approved value-for-money framework. 65 assurance reviews are completed for the 2012–13 reconstruction programme. 2014–15
Achieved
2013–14
Achieved
2012–13
Achieved
2011–12
Achieved
The Australian Government Reconstruction Inspectorate completed its work which included the assessment of a total of 204 projects across the Queensland and Victorian reconstruction programmes. The sample size for the 2012–13 Queensland reconstruction programme was reduced to 57 from 65 assurance reviews. This reflected the reduction in the total disaster reconstruction estimate to $10.0 billion in May 2015 from $11.7 billion in 2011. From the 2012–13 programme, 10 Queensland Betterment fund projects were also assessed against value-for-money criteria.
Issues and risks in the delivery of Australian Government effort are identified and addressed in a timely manner. Monthly meetings to identify issues and risks and ongoing reporting to the Senior Executive to monitor timely action. 2014–15
Achieved
2013–14
Achieved
2012–13
Achieved
2011–12
Achieved
Issues and risks were monitored to ensure timely action was undertaken.
Regional Development Australia (RDA) committees work with key regional stakeholders and local governments to develop a regionally supported plan and identify priority infrastructure projects. Each region has a plan endorsed by stakeholders that identifies key economic development priorities and is kept current. 2014–15
Achieved
2013–14
Achieved
2012–13
Achieved
2011–12
Substantially achieved
All 55 Regional Development Australia committees prepared a regional plan, which focused on the economic development of their region and identified key infrastructure priorities. These plans were developed with input from key regional stakeholders and within the context of state, territory and local government plans. The plans were assessed for compliance, completeness and quality.

Result Key
Achieved All targets for 2014–15 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 2014–15.

*Result trend data not available

Did you know?

Northern Australia accounts for the majority of Australia's 30 million tonnes of sugarcane produced each year and more than 90 per cent of Australia's mango and banana production.

Source: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, 2015

Table 5.2 Programme 3.1 deliverables

DeliverableTargetResult
Provide advice and build evidence base to support the delivery of the Australian Government's commitment to improved outcomes for regional Australia. Ongoing provision of high quality advice to the Australian Government. The Policy and Research Division compiles and publishes statistical information on regional Australia that contributes to the evidence base for informed regional policy. For example, the Progress in Australian Regions publication presents a collection of statistical indicators that can help answer important questions about the progress of Australia's regions across four domains of economic, social, environmental and governance activity.
Progress regional initiatives across all three tiers of government to improve regional economic development and infrastructure planning and provision. Provision of regional initiatives that promote sustainable economic development. Regional programmes such as the Community Development Grants and National Stronger Regions Fund are established and contribute to projects across Australia's regions that promote sustainable economic development. Programmes such as the Tasmanian Jobs and Growth package, South Australia River Murray Sustainability package, Latrobe Valley Economic Diversification package and the Murray Darling Basin Regional Economic Diversification package are addressing sustainable development in targeted areas.
Support needed infrastructure that promotes stable, secure and viable local and regional economies through the Community Development Grants Fund. Ensure projects that have received funding are delivered on time and on budget. All contracted Community Development Grants Fund projects are being delivered on time and budget in accordance with the terms and conditions of their current funding agreement.
Support economic growth and employment in Tasmania by delivering the Tasmanian Jobs and Growth Package. Ensure projects that have received funding are delivered on time and on budget. All contracted Tasmanian Jobs and Growth Package projects are being delivered on time and budget in accordance with the terms and conditions of their current funding agreement.
Work with the local community and all levels of government to assist the Latrobe Valley region of Victoria diversify and transition to a clean energy future. Ensure projects that have received funding are delivered on time and on budget. All contracted Latrobe Valley Economic Diversification Plan projects are being delivered on time and budget in accordance with the terms and conditions of their current funding agreement.
Work with affected communities on potential impacts of the Murray Darling Basin Plan and initiatives to strengthen and diversify Murray Darling Basin communities. Ensure projects that have received funding are delivered on time and on budget. The Australian Government has entered into partnership agreements with Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Projects identified for funding are being delivered on time and budget. The $25.0 million identified for South Australia was transferred to support road infrastructure and maintenance within the state under the South Australian Regional Roads Package.
Support infrastructure needs that enhance the economic and community development of Australia's local communities and regions through the Regional Development Australia Fund. Ensure projects that have received funding are delivered on time and on budget. All Regional Development Australia Fund projects are being delivered on time and budget in accordance with the terms and conditions of their current funding agreement.
Deliver the Australian Government's commitments by implementing community and social infrastructure projects identified by local communities as priority investments for their regions through the Community Infrastructure Grants programme. Ensure projects that have received funding are delivered on time and on budget. Australian Government funded activity for the 88 projects being administered by the Department is now complete and was delivered on time and under budget.
Enhance engagement with Australian Government, 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 Regional Development Australia (RDA) committees to support regional economic development. Satisfactory delivery of activity against contract milestones and payment of funding to RDA committees. A total of $19.1 million was provided to assist the 55 Regional Development Australia committees to deliver their contracted outcomes. Each committee provided an annual report on outcomes, including achievements against key performance indicators.
Provide advice to the Australian Government concerning northern Australia issues including long term options for the development of the region. High quality and timely support provided to the taskforce responsible for the development of the northern Australia white paper. The Department continued to lead development of measures and reforms addressing infrastructure and regional development priorities across the north, many of which were announced in the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, including:

  • establishing a new infrastructure pipeline
  • a $600.0 million roads package to improve key roads in the north
  • a $100.0 million beef roads fund to improve the resilience of cattle supply chains
  • $39.6 million to upgrade airstrips and subsidise air services in remote Australia, and
  • $5.0 million in rail freight analyses, starting with a pre-feasibility analysis of the Mount Isa to Tennant Creek railway.
Support for the northern Australia strategic partnership. High quality and timely support provided to the Minister in his role in the Strategic Partnership. The Office of Northern Australia supported the Deputy Prime Minister in his participation in the strategic partnership.
Continue to monitor and progress northern Australia issues and ensure effective delivery of Northern Australia Sustainable Futures (NASF) Programme initiatives. Ongoing management of NASF initiatives. 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 regionally-focused examination of opportunities and constraints to the development of new food and fibre industries in the north, and
  • a preliminary assessment of surface water storage potential for northern Australia.
Oversee the effective implementation of the Tasmanian Economic Growth Plan. Effective coordination and implementation of all components of the plan. The Department continues to implement the key infrastructure measures in the Australian Government's Economic Growth Plan for Tasmania such as the $400.0 million Midland Highway upgrade, the $38.0 million Hobart runway extension and the $106.0 million Tasmanian Jobs and Growth Package. The Department also works collaboratively with other agencies to coordinate the range of measures in this initiative, including the Tasmanian Jobs Programme and establishing the Tasmanian Major Projects Approvals Agency and a new centre for Antarctic and Southern Ocean research.
Provide responsive support to the Minister Assisting on Queensland Flood Recovery and the Australian Government Reconstruction Inspectorate. Timely advice on reconstruction progress. The National Disaster Recovery Taskforce supported the Australian Government Reconstruction Inspectorate. Timely advice was provided to make informed decisions on value-for-money assessments across the reconstruction programmes.
Assure the Australian Government that public funding of reconstruction efforts represents value-for-money. 65 assurance reviews are completed for the 2012–13 reconstruction programme. The revised project sample target of 57 (reduced from 65 reflecting a reduction in the total reconstruction estimate to $10.0 billion in May 2015 from $11.7 billion in 2011) was met for the 2012–13 Queensland reconstruction programme. A total of 204 project assurance reviews were completed for 2010–11 and 2011–13 events across Queensland and Victoria which included 10 Queensland betterment fund reviews.

Did you know?

Northern Australia receives an average of more than two million giga-litres of rainfall ever year (CSIRO, 2015c, unpublished)—which is more than 60 per cent of the national total.

Source: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, 2015

Table 5.3 Programme 3.1 administered items

Administered ItemResult
Bathurst 200 Commemorative Flagstaff Project–contribution Completed on time and on budget.
Community Development Grants Fund Announced in October 2013 this programme is now established with the Department administering 288 projects. A total of 87 have completed and $65.0 million in payments have been made.
Community Infrastructure Grants Australian Government funded activity for the 88 projects has concluded with a total of $167.0 million paid by 30 June 2015.
Latrobe Valley Economic Diversification Two projects are being administered under this programme. The Warragul Station Precinct has received payment of $2.7 million towards the $3.4 million Australian Government contribution. The Moe Station Precinct will receive $7.5 million of which $2.1 million has been paid.
Murray-Darling Basin Regional Economic Diversification Programme The Australian Government has entered into a partnership agreement with Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. The $25.0 million identified for South Australia was transferred to support road infrastructure and maintenance within the state under the South Australian Regional Roads Package.
Regional Development Australia Committees A total of $19.1 million was provided through funding agreements to support the 55 Regional Development Australia committees across Australia.
Regional Development Australia Fund The Department continues to administer the Regional Development Australia Fund which is delivering nearly $425.0 million for 145 projects to 30 June 2017. A total of 85 projects are completed and payment of $349.6 million has been made to 30 June 2015.
Regional Development Projects in Northern Australia Cairns Regional Council is being provided with $4.8 million towards the redevelopment of the Tobruk Memorial Pool. The refurbished pool precinct will include an international-standard pool, shade covering and upgrades to amenities.
South Australia Economic Development Programme The $25.0 million South Australian Regional Economic Development element being managed by the Department comprises three initiatives:

  • $7.5 million to redevelop the Loxton Research Centre
  • $5.0 million for an industry-led research sub-programme, and
  • $12.5 million for a Regional Development and Innovation Fund sub-programme.
Payments of $11.5 million have been made towards this programme to 30 June 2015.
Tasmanian Jobs and Growth Package Total payments of $37.7 million have been made towards the $89.0 million administered by the Department for up to 31 projects. Additional elements of the package are being delivered by other departments.

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

Programme 3.2—Local Government

In Focus

  • Under the Financial Assistance Grant programme, a total of $3.4 billion in untied funding was provided to 571 local governing bodies across Australia in 2014–15. This included a bring forward payment of $1.1 billion from 2015–16.
  • The 2011–12 and 2012–13 local government national reports were tabled, and the 2013–14 Local Government National Report is nearing completion.
  • The National Awards for Local Government were held on 16 June 2015 at Parliament House, Canberra in conjunction with the Australian Local Government Association 2015 National General Assembly. The awards are an annual celebration of Australian local government achievements and recognise the important role of local government in delivering targeted quality services to urban and regional areas across Australia. The National Award for Excellence in Local Government was selected from the winners of six award categories.

Summary of Performance

Table 5.4 Programme 3.2 key performance indicators

Key performance indicatorTargetResult
Participation in National Awards for Local Government is 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. 2014–15
Achieved
2013–14
Achieved
2012–13
Achieved
2011–12
Achieved
Six category awards were presented, with the national winner for excellence in local government selected from the six category winners. Awards were presented at Parliament House on 16 June 2015.

Result Key
Achieved All targets for 2014–15 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 2014–15.

Did you know?

Over 70 per cent of Australia's known resources of iron ore, lead, zinc and silver, as well as significant deposits of bauxite, tungsten and molybdenum are found in northern Australia.

Source: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, 2015

Table 5.5 Programme 3.2 deliverables

DeliverableTargetResult
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. A total of $3.4 billion was provided to 571 local governing bodies in accordance with the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995.
Prepare the annual Local Government National Report in accordance with financial assistance grants legislation. Deliver the annual Local Government National Report in accordance with financial assistance grant legislation. Both the 2011–12 and 2012–13 Local Government National Reports were completed in accordance with the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995.
Conduct the National Awards for Local Government. Awards are conducted subject to the receipt of sponsorship. The 2015 awards were held on 16 June 2015 in conjunction with the Australian Local Government Association National General Assembly at Parliament House.

Table 5.6 Programme 3.2 administered items

Administered ItemResult
Award for Local Government The National Awards for Local Government are an annual celebration of Australian local government achievements and recognise the important role of local government in delivering targeted quality services to urban and regional areas across Australia. This year the National Award for Excellence in Local Government was selected from the six category award winners, with a further seven councils receiving highly commended acknowledgement.  The quality and diversity of entries demonstrates the growing maturity of the local government sector in identifying strong social and economic opportunities for their regions.  The awards were held on 16 June 2015 at Parliament House, Canberra in conjunction with the Australian Local Government Association 2015 National General Assembly.  
Local Government Financial Assistance Grants The Australian Government provided $3.4 billion under the Financial Assistance Grant programme to local government in 2014–15. This included a bring forward payment of $1.1 billion, being two quarterly instalments of the 2015–16 estimated entitlement, to ensure councils have immediate access to untied funding to spend according to local priorities.

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

Did you know?

Northern Australia's beef herd comprises 12.5 million cattle and contributes approximately 90 per cent of Australia's live cattle exports (CSIRO, 2014, Livestock Logistics).

Source: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, 2015

Case Studies

Progress in Australia's Regions: Yearbook 2014

Australia is made up of diverse regions, from busy interconnected urban areas to isolated remote communities. While the majority of Australians live in cities, a significant proportion of our population is also spread across large and often remote areas.

In December 2014 the Department released Progress in Australian Regions: Yearbook 2014, the first in a new and exciting series of publications looking at how our different regions are progressing. The yearbook brings together information about Australia's regions from a range of different sources and presents data in a nationally consistent format over time. This reveals regional trends and patterns that are often hidden when only national level data is examined.

Shown below, the yearbook charts the development of Australia's regions over time in the four critical domains of economic, social, environmental and governance activity. The progress indicators are complemented by contextual indicators which help to interpret the trends within regions.

It also provides a statistical resource to help governments, private organisations and the community identify trends that are important for informed policy development and investment decisions.

a chart illustrating the progress in Australia's Regions indicator framework

White Paper on Developing Northern Australia

four photographs showing the development of Northern Australia

In June 2015 the Australian Government released the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia which delivers a blueprint for the future of northern Australia. The White Paper is the culmination of over 18 months work, by a range of departmental staff including staff seconded to the Northern Australia Taskforce in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, as well as staff located in the Department's Office of Northern Australia. Employees from across the Department were also involved in developing a range of policy options critical to the success of the White Paper.

For the White Paper, northern Australia was broadly defined as those parts of Western Australia and Queensland north of the Tropic of Capricorn, and all of the Northern Territory; an area of over three million square kilometres with a population of over one million people.

Building on the Green Paper on Developing Northern Australia released in June 2014 and wide community consultation, the White Paper focuses on providing the building blocks for growth. This includes building priority roads, developing water resources, promoting better regulation, building a sustainable workforce and ensuring effective governance arrangements are in place.

Northern Australia is strategically located at the intersection of the tropics and the rapidly growing Asian region. It is a natural gateway from Australia to our northern neighbours. The White Paper builds on this as well as other natural advantages in the north relating to agriculture, mining, energy and tourism.

The Department's Office of Northern Australia is also to move to be entirely based in northern Australia and will have responsibility for supporting the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, the Hon Warren Truss MP, and ensuring delivery of all the White Paper measures.

A number of measures are also being delivered specifically by the Department including:

  • the $600.0 million Northern Australia Roads Package
  • the $100.0 million Northern Australia Beef Roads Fund
  • $5.0 million to assess new rail freight options in the north
  • $3.7 million to develop a northern infrastructure pipeline, and
  • $39.6 million to upgrade airstrips and subsidise air services in remote Australia.

The Deputy Prime Minister continues to have portfolio responsibility for all northern Australia issues and in this capacity will deliver an annual report to Parliament on the progress of the White Paper.

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Last Updated: 7 December, 2015