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Delivering Our Commitments to Australia's Regions

John Cobb, Parliamentary Secratary to the Minister for Transport and Regional Services

TRS17/Budget 10th May 2005

The Australian Government will spend $160 million in 2005-06 on the Regional Partnerships and Sustainable Regions programmes as we press on with delivering our election commitments to Australia's regions, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Cobb, said today.

"The funding confirms our commitment to regional Australia, with measures to create jobs and provide better services," Mr Cobb said.

"In contrast, the Labor Party would slash the Government's spending on regional programmes. They regard any spending in regional Australia as a rort, because they do not live there and do not care."

Regional Partnerships

The Australian Government will spend $111.6 million in 2005-06 on the Regional Partnerships Programme, including $16 million on regional icon projects, $6.1 million on Bank@Post and $5 million on the Rural Medical Infrastructure Fund, announced in today's Budget.

"The Government is carrying out our election promise to provide six regional icon projects with $27.8 million over three years. They will become a focus of local pride and together represent the achievements, history and future of our regions," Mr Cobb said.

"The Mackay Science and Technology Precinct will receive $8 million over two years and will be located at the Mackay campus of the Central Queensland University. As the region's premier research and development facility, it will provide a study and career path for young people interested in science, mining or nursing.

"The Government will contribute $5 million over two years to the redevelopment of Buchanan Park in Mount Isa, which will become the new home of the Mount Isa Rodeo. It attracts well over 20,000 visitors and is one of the largest rodeos in the world.

"The Hinkler Hall of Aviation in Bundaberg will receive $2.5 million from Regional Partnerships and $1.5 million from a separate measure to record and commemorate the life of one of Australia's greatest aviators. The museum is expected to attract more than 34,000 visitors a year.

"The upgrade of the Dalby Showgrounds will receive $2 million, and will include a multi-purpose indoor/outdoor arena that will be used by sporting organisations, business and the community. Dalby has a population of 10,000 people, but does not currently have an all-weather venue for major events.

"The Reginald Murray Williams Australian Bush Centre in Eidsvold will receive $4 million over three years. Reginald Murray Williams is an Australian legend. The Centre will preserve his memory with a mix of sustainable hardwood agroforestry and bush tourism.

"Finally, the Australian Equine and Livestock Centre in Tamworth will receive $6 million. It will be a world-class venue for equine and livestock events and will include an indoor arena, seating for 5,000 spectators and stabling for 500 horses.

"The funding for Regional Partnerships includes $6.1 million in 2005-06 for Bank@Post, our plan to extend electronic banking services to more than 200 extra rural communities through Licensed Post Offices. The first 58 Bank@Post sites are expected to be operational by December 2005," Mr Cobb said.

Sustainable Regions

The Government will spend $48.3 million in 2005-06 on the Sustainable Regions Programme. The programme funds important development projects in regions that face the spiralling effects of social and technological change.

"Today's Budget confirms our election commitment to establish two new regions under the programme," Mr Cobb said.

"The Government will invest $21 million over four years in the Darling Matilda Way Sustainable Region, which covers an area the size of South Australia in western Queensland and western New South Wales. The population of the region is slowly declining. Our investment will help create more incentives for young people to stay.

"We will invest $12 million over four years in the Northern Rivers and North Coast NSW Sustainable Region, where the programme will help diversify the region's industries and reduce the level of unemployment.

"The Government has now established advisory committees in the two new regions to provide us with recommendations about the best projects to fund. The first task of the committees will be to consult widely and determine local development priorities for their regions. These priorities will guide their subsequent project recommendations.

"The Regional Partnerships and Sustainable Regions programmes are just two of the Government's many programmes for regional Australia. Today's Budget papers include a comprehensive regional statement - Building Stronger Communities - which sets out our measures in detail," Mr Cobb said.

Building Stronger Communities can be accessed at www.budget.gov.au or by phoning the Australian Government Regional Information Service on 1800 026 222.

More information about the Rural Medical Infrastructure Fund is available in release TRS18/Budget in this kit.

Media contacts:
Ron Kelly Mr Cobb's Office 02 6277 4080 / 0417 862 924