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Federal Government Supports Rural and Regional Communities

John Anderson

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

A17/Budget

14th May 2002

The Federal Government will spend $113.2 million in 2002-03 on initiatives to help rural and regional communities build a sustainable future, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson, said today.

The funding is in addition to broader government measures such as Networking the Nation, More Doctors: Better Services, and the Natural Heritage Trust.

"The Federal Government is committed to working in partnership with local communities to make regional Australia stronger," Mr Anderson said.

The main components of the funding are:

  • $40.2 million for the Sustainable Regions Programme to help selected regions undergoing major economic, social or environmental change;
  • $24.5 million for the Regional Assistance Progamme (RAP) for local community-based projects and Area Consultative Committee operations;
  • $20.6 million for the Regional Solutions Programme (RSP) to support remote, rural and regional communities in implementing local solutions to local challenges; and
  • $21.3 million for Rural Transaction Centres (RTCS) to help small rural communities establish centres that provide access to basic transaction services.
  • $2.6 million in structural adjustment funding for Wide Bay Burnett and $3.1 million for the South-West Forests of Western Australia.

"The Government will provide $650,000 to the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal to help it continue its philanthropic work in regional Australia, and will direct a further $228,000 toward research into the socioeconomic challenges facing rural and regional areas.

"The Government's programmes are funding community-driven initiatives. They are making a real difference to the future of people living and working in towns and regional centres across the country.

"We have approved more than 1,800 projects since 1997 under the Regional Assistance Programme, which has boosted local business growth, increased employment opportunities, and built up local skills.

"Around 200 small towns have already received Rural Transaction Centre funding, which has given them access to essential services such as banking, post, phone, fax, internet, Centrelink and Medicare Easyclaim.

"Towns with RTCs are finding that they are helping to revitalise their local communities, with some centres providing access to other services such as Job Network, videoconferencing, and rooms for visiting professionals.

"The response to the Regional Solutions Programme, which helps communities build their economic base and strengthen their social structures, has been overwhelming. More than 1,470 applications have been received to date.

"We have established advisory committees in each of the eight regions participating in the Sustainable Regions Programme. The committees are currently advising the Federal Government on their development priorities and recommending projects for funding.

"We have provided well over $40 million under the Dairy Regional Assistance Programme (Dairy RAP) for more than 200 projects since the Programme began in July 2000. These projects have generated business and employment growth in communities affected by dairy deregulation across Australia.

"These programmes are a real demonstration of the Government's commitment to work in partnership with local communities to help them achieve their goals," Mr Anderson said.

Media contact: Paul Chamberlin 02 62777680