13th May 2003
The Federal Government has integrated its key regional programmes into a new Regional Partnerships programme, to make it simpler for communities to obtain government backing for their development priorities.
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 Regional Partnerships programme would have one set of guidelines, one simple application form and on-the-ground support to help communities develop their own future.
The Government has budgeted to spend an additional $61.8 million on the programme over the three years from 2004-05 to 2006-07. The new measure will effectively extend the funding for the former Regional Solutions Programme, which was due to lapse at the end of 2003-04.
Mr Anderson said: "The Regional Partnerships programme combines all our regional funding programmes except Sustainable Regions. It is based on our partnership approach, which enables local communities to develop their own priorities and then access Government support to help make their priorities a reality."
"The new programme will focus on four areas:
- strengthening growth and opportunities by investing in projects that strengthen and provide greater opportunities for economic and social participation in the community;
- improving access to services by investing in projects that, in a cost effective and sustainable way, support communities to access services. It will give priority to communities in regional Australia with a population of less than 5,000;
- supporting planning by investing in projects that assist communities to identify and explore opportunities and to develop strategies for action; and
- assisting structural adjustment by investing in projects that assist specifically identified communities and regions adjust to major economic, social or environmental change. The existing structural adjustment programmes for the Wide Bay-Burnett, Namoi Valley, Weipa and the South West Forests region of Western Australia will be incorporated into Regional Partnerships. The funds allocated to these regions will not change."
Mr Tuckey said: "The new programme will strengthen the role of the Government's network of Area Consultative Committees (ACCs). The 56 committees cover the whole of Australia and consist of local community leaders."
"The ACCs will be tasked with helping applicants develop their ideas into high quality projects, as well as helping to identify possible project partners. They will also ensure that proposed projects are consistent with the development priorities that have been set by each region."
"An important feature of Regional Partnerships is that private companies will be able to obtain funding under the new programme. At present, some of the regional programmes allow private sector applicants; others do not.
"Local and regional businesses are the major source of employment and economic growth in regional Australia. Our experience is that private firms can often leverage a small and one-off amount of Government support into an expansion of their business that creates jobs and exports long after the funding period has ended," he said.
Mr Anderson said: "The new Regional Partnerships programme will remain separate from the Sustainable Regions programme, which is focused on assisting eight prototype regions lead their own development with up to $100 million in funding. The Government will spend $26.4 million in Sustainable Regions in 2003-04.
The Regional Partnerships programme is just one of our many initiatives for rural and regional Australia. Today's Budget papers include a comprehensive regional statement, Australia's Regions: Working in Partnership, which sets out our measures in detail."
The programme will come into effect in July this year and no existing grants or applications will be affected. It will combine the following programmes: Regional Solutions, Rural Transaction Centres, Regional Assistance and Dairy Regional Assistance, and the structural adjustment programmes for Wide Bay Burnett, Namoi Valley, Weipa and the South West Forests Region of Western Australia.
Australia's Regions: Working in Partnership can be accessed in the Regional Australia Ministerial Statements section or by phoning the Commonwealth Regional Information Service on 1800 026 222.
Mr Anderson's office: Paul Chamberlin 02 62777680 / 0419 233989
Mr Tuckey's office: Graeme Hallett 02 62777060 / 0419 688440