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Delivering Results for Australia's Regions

Minister for Transport and Regional Services - Warren Truss
014TRS/Budget 9 May 2006

The Australian Government will spend $122 million in 2006-07 to support regional development by funding community initiatives that create opportunities for economic growth and provide improved services, the Minister for Transport and Regional Services Warren Truss, said today.

Mr Truss said the funding confirms the Government's commitment to regional Australia and the philosophy of helping communities to help themselves.

"This support will be delivered through the national Regional Partnerships programme, targeted assistance to particular regions of need through the Sustainable Regions programme, and support for the Australian Government's regional development network, the 56 volunteer Area Consultative Committees," he said.

Regional Partnerships

The highly-successful Regional Partnerships Programme has provided more than $225 million for over 800 community initiated projects since it commenced in July 2003. The Australian Government will spend a further $77.2 million in 2006-07 on the diverse projects brought forward by communities - everything from re-stumping community halls to providing the local infrastructure needed to deliver better services.

Mr Truss said it was satisfying to see the difference that these projects make particularly in small and disadvantaged communities.

"The Regional Partnerships programme is extending banking services to more than 260 post offices through the Australian Government's Bank@Post initiative and establishing medical facilities in small communities to help them recruit or retain general practitioners under the $5 million a year Rural Medical Infrastructure Fund.

"The community of Boyup Brook in south-west Western Australia is an example. Their community-owned clinic is being upgraded to a more appropriate medical facility that is capable of delivering a wider range of medical services and securing an additional GP and other health professionals.

"The Regional Partnerships programme is also delivering 36 commitments to local communities made during the 2004 Federal election," Mr Truss said.

Sustainable Regions

The Government will spend $28.3 million in 2006-07 on the Sustainable Regions Programme. The programme funds important development projects in regions that face the spiralling effects of social and technological change.

Mr Truss said this programme has successfully provided vital assistance in eight regions since it commenced in 2001 and is now focussed on the two new regions designated in 2004 election commitments.

"The Australian 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 opportunities in the region and 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 recommendations about the best projects to fund. The committees will continue to consult widely and determine local development priorities for their regions. These priorities will guide their project recommendations," Mr Truss said.

Area Consultative Committees - the Australian Government's Regional Development Network

The national network of Area Consultative Committees (ACCs) provides an important link between the Australian Government and rural and metropolitan Australia. As volunteer community-based organisations, ACCs are uniquely placed to respond to issues in their regions and provide a vital conduit to government on local, social and economic conditions. ACCs work to identify opportunities, priorities and development strategies for their regions.

Funding for operation of the network of 56 Area Consultative Committees ($16.7m) is now guaranteed for three years - providing certainty for ACCs.

Mr Truss said he wanted to strengthen and develop the role of the 56 Area Consultative Committees around Australia.

"The ACCs are a great resource, and we want to make more use of them to help deliver Australian Government programmes, not just the Regional Partnerships programme.

"Funding certainty will make it easier for ACCs to attract and retain quality staff, to institute longer-term strategic plans, and to develop strategies to facilitate other Australian Government programmes," he said.

Further details of Government initiatives to support regional Australia can be obtained at the Regional Entry Point website or by phoning the Australian Government Regional Information Service on 1800 026 222.

Media contacts:
Mr Truss' office - Kylie Butler 02 6277 7680 / 0417 652 488