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A Partnership for Stronger Regions

John Anderson

Deputy Prime Minister
Minister for Transport and Regional Services
Leader of the National Party

Wilson Tuckey

Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government


14th May 2002

The 2002-03 Budget continues the Government's focus on strengthening Australia's regional communities. It delivers a range of measures to boost local economies, provide better services and tackle environmental issues.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson, and the Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government, Wilson Tuckey, said the 2002-03 Budget built on the Government's record of delivering practical initiatives that were making a real difference in regional Australia.

"We are delivering on our commitments and continuing the work that must be done to make regional Australia strong and vibrant," Mr Anderson said.

Mr Tuckey said the Budget highlighted the Government's commitment to work in partnership with local communities, to enable them to lead their own development and realise their own future.

"Australia owes much of its economic prosperity to the effort of the seven million Australians who live in rural and regional areas. Our national prosperity will continue to depend on the strength of our regions," Mr Tuckey said.

"We are developing innovative and flexible programmes to help meet the needs of local communities, as well as investing in the infrastructure that is critical to their economic and social development."

The key regional measures in the 2002-03 Budget are:

Transport infrastructure

  • $1.7 billion in 2002-03 for roads throughout the whole of Australia, including $200 million in 2002-03 for the innovative Roads to Recovery programme, and a $180 million extension of the Black Spot Programme over four years. We will spend about $90 million of the Black Spot funding in regional areas. The programme is estimated to have prevented more than 1,500 serious crashes in its first three years of operation.
  • $13 million in 2002-03 to support regional air services and general aviation. Regional airlines will continue to be subsidised for the enroute charges imposed by Airservices Australia. Airservices will also receive funding to provide reasonably priced tower services at regional and general aviation airports.

Environmental sustainability

  • A $1 billion, five-year extension of the Natural Heritage Trust to repair and replenish Australia's natural environment.
  • A $25 million, five year programme to support primary producers in adopting environmental management systems. The Incentives for Environmental Systems in Agriculture is a sub-programme of the Natural Heritage Trust.

Industry and business development

  • $102.4 million over five years to develop and implement a National Food Industry Strategy. This strategy will help position Australia as a significant player in the global food production system, and will create investment, export opportunities, and jobs, largely in regional areas.
  • A $21.5 million extension of the successful Tradestart programme to ensure small and medium-sized companies in regional Australia get the support they need to succeed in international markets. 10 new offices will be opened, bringing the total number of Tradestart offices in regional Australia to 34.
  • $12.8 million in 2002-03 to extend eligibility for the Diesel Fuel Rebate Scheme to retail and hospitality businesses where there is no access to commercial supplies of electricity, and the electricity generated is for their own use.

Health and aged care services

  • $72.7 million over four years for better treatment for cancer patients, with an emphasis on regional communities. The funding will increase the availability of radiotherapy services, provide for up to six new regional radiotherapy centres, and support measures to ensure there are sufficient staff to treat patients.
  • $55 million over four years for palliative care. Regional Australia will benefit significantly from this national measure to enable people to receive care in a dignified manner and in a setting of their choice.
  • $5.6 billion on aged care, an increase of $500 million over the 2001-02 Budget allocation. More than 40 per cent of aged care places are located in remote, rural and regional areas of Australia.

Regional Programmes

  • $113.2 million in 2002-03 to support regional communities, including Regional Solutions, Rural Transaction Centres, Sustainable Regions and Regional Assistance.

"These measures complement other major national programmes, such as Networking the Nation, More Doctors: Better Services, and the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality," Mr Anderson said.

"They demonstrate our commitment to ensuring that the communities of regional Australia have a prosperous long-term future."

A detailed statement of the Government's Budget measures for regional Australia can be accessed at www.dotars.gov.au/department/statements/regional/index.aspx or by phoning 1800 026 222.

Media contact: Paul Chamberlin 02 62777680