Infrastructure and Regional Development: Regional Australia—Driving Our Economy 2017–18

The Infrastructure and Regional Development portfolio contributes to investment, delivering jobs, productivity improvements and economic growth to all Australians. Our regions are our nation’s backbone and are critical to our economic prosperity.

Through this portfolio, the Australian Government is delivering vital infrastructure to enable our regions to prosper and grow. These infrastructure investments connect regions to the global economy and enable the safe and efficient movement of millions of tonnes of freight from farm gates and factories, to markets across Australia and overseas. These transport links also ensure access to employment and training opportunities, health, education and other vital services that are central to sustainable communities and economies.

The Infrastructure and Regional Development portfolio also contributes to strengthening regional Australia through facilitating local partnerships with communities, between all levels of government and supporting effective governance of Australia’s local governments and territories. It is critical that our communities have the support they need to build local leadership expertise and maximise opportunities that flow from their comparative advantages. We are continuing to invest in our regions to ensure they are places of commerce and community.

The Australian Government has made an unprecedented commitment to the upgrade and construction of safe and reliable land transport infrastructure across the country. This investment is central to providing connectivity and economic growth. The Australian Government will deliver the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project by a combination of an additional $8.4 billion equity investment in the Australian Rail Track Corporation and a public private partnership for the most complex elements of the project. Work will commence in 2017–18. Inland Rail will connect regional Australia to domestic and global markets, bring Australian rail into the 21st century and help build a stronger and more competitive nation. Inland Rail will complement existing road and rail infrastructure by creating a highly efficient, integrated, freight transport network. The project will improve access to and from regional markets for large numbers of businesses by opening new transport service options, lowering freight costs and enhancing competition in the freight market.

The Australian Government will establish the Regional Growth Fund providing $472 million for regional infrastructure projects that will make a difference to local economies. The Regional Growth Fund will include $272 million to provide grants of $10 million or more for major transformational projects which bring together the three levels of government with businesses and the community to support long-term economic growth and create jobs in regions undergoing structural adjustment.

An additional, $200 million will be provided to the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) to support the construction of community infrastructure and build the capacity of regional areas. BBRF will make sure our regional communities are sustainable and strong into the future, by building communities that people want to live in and come back to for work, business and lifestyle opportunities. This commitment acknowledges that regions are more than bricks and mortar with funding also available for projects that bring social benefit like attracting major events or building local leadership capability. The second round of BBRF will allow more regional communities across Australia to benefit from the fund. This brings the total Australian Government commitment to the BBRF to nearly $500 million. The BBRF will fund only projects in rural, regional and remote Australia and follows the conclusion of the highly successful National Stronger Regions Fund, which delivered hundreds of projects across the nation.

The Infrastructure and Regional Development portfolio is also investing in sustainable regional economies. The $220.0 million Regional Jobs and Investment Packages supports the Australian Government’s commitment to stimulate economic growth and create jobs in ten pilot regions enabling these communities to design unique solutions that are best suited to diversify their economies, drive long–term growth and deliver sustainable employment.

The Infrastructure and Regional Development portfolio will set a future direction for growth and connectivity in regional Australia by releasing a whole-of-government regional development policy in 2017. This policy will focus on investing in rural, regional and remote communities to: drive economic growth and create local jobs; build transport and communications infrastructure; improve access to education and healthcare services; and create confident and strong regions working in partnership with local communities.

The $18.3 million Regional Development Australia Committee program supports the Australian Government commitment to strong, confident and vibrant regions. The Regional Development Australia Committees will have an active and facilitative role in their communities with a clear focus on delivering local jobs, attracting investment and building economic growth in their regions.

New Initiatives

Regional Jobs and Investment Packages

The Australian Government is further committing to the Regional Jobs and Investment Packages by providing $20.0 million to the Latrobe Valley which will bring total funding for the program to $220.0 million over four years from 2016–17. This will help diversify regional economies, stimulate economic growth and deliver sustainable employment in ten pilot regions: Tropical North Queensland ($20.0 million), Bowen Basin ($30.0 million), Wide Bay Burnett ($20.0 million), NSW North Coast ($25.0 million), NSW South Coast ($20.0 million), Upper Spencer Gulf ($20.0 million), Latrobe Valley ($20.0 million), Goulburn Valley ($20.0 million), Geelong ($20.0 million) and Regional Tasmania ($25.0 million).

Local Planning Committees will be established in each region to develop a Local Investment Plan that outlines industry growth sectors, new market opportunities and future workforce needs. Grants will be available in targeted competitive funding rounds to projects that align with the priorities in each region’s Local Investment Plan. Once a region’s plan is finalised, funding is available across three streams: local infrastructure, business innovation, and skills and training.

Regional Growth Fund

The Government will provide $472.2 million over four years from 2017–18 to establish a Regional Growth Fund.

The Regional Growth Fund will include $272.2 million to provide grants of $10.0 million or more for major transformational projects which support long-term economic growth and create jobs in regions undergoing structural adjustment.

Also in the Regional Growth Fund is $200 million for the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) for four years from 2017–18, building on the commitment to the BBRF at the 2016 election, to allow more regional communities across Australia to benefit from the fund. This brings the total Australian Government commitment to the BBRF to nearly $500 million from 2017–18 to 2020-21.

The BBRF will invest in eligible projects in regional and remote Australia, outside the major capital cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, and Canberra. Successful projects will be required to deliver economic and social benefits, and grant funding is available through two funding streams:

  • The Infrastructure Projects Stream supports projects that involve construction of new infrastructure, or the upgrade or extension of existing infrastructure.
  • The Community Investments Stream funds community development activities including, but not limited to, new or expanded local events, strategic regional plans, leadership and capability building activities.

Inland Rail—Delivery

The Australian Government is committing an additional $8.4 billion in new equity funding for the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) to deliver the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project. Inland Rail will connect regional Australia to domestic and global markets, bring Australian rail into the 21st century and help build a stronger and more competitive nation.

Inland Rail will provide a seamless new freight corridor between Brisbane and Melbourne via Toowoomba, Moree, Parkes and Albury, and link to other mainland state capitals through the ARTC network. The project will improve the productivity of the national land freight network and be an enduring economic asset for regional communities in south–east Australia. Inland Rail will complement existing road and rail infrastructure by creating a highly efficient, integrated, freight transport network. The project will improve access to and from regional markets for businesses by opening new transport service options, lowering freight costs and enhancing competition in the freight market.

Spanning three states and 1,700 kilometres, Inland Rail will be a nationally significant civil engineering project. Around 98 per cent of construction and capital expenditure will occur in regional areas particularly in south–east Queensland and north–west New South Wales. In addition to 500 kilometres of new rail track and the upgrade of 1,200 kilometres of existing rail corridor, the project will involve over 8 kilometres of tunnelling in southern Queensland through the Toowoomba Range, which will be among Australia’s largest tunnel projects. Around 16,000 direct and indirect jobs will be supported during the peak of construction and the project will require about 260,000 tonnes of steel.

This investment builds on the Australian Government’s previous commitment of $893.7 million in funding, which has allowed the ARTC to progress work on the Inland Rail corridor and bring the project to construction readiness.

Stronger Communities Programme

The Australian Government will make available an additional $22.5 million to deliver a third round of the Stronger Communities Programme (SPC) in 2017–18, to fund small capital projects in local communities that will improve local community participation and contribute to vibrant and viable communities across Australia.

Under the program, $150,000 will be available in each Federal Electorate in 2017–18. Applicants will be able to seek a grant of at least $5,000 and up to a maximum of $20,000 and will be required to match the SPC grant in cash or in–kind on at least a dollar for dollar basis.

The input of the community is a key element of the SPC. Each Member of the House of Representatives is required to establish a community consultation committee, to identify projects for consideration under the program.

Regional Rail in Victoria

The Australian Government is committed to the development of regional Victorian communities, particularly as the population, outside greater metropolitan Melbourne is forecast to reach over two million people by 2031.

The Australian Government will invest $500.0 million in regional rail in Victoria to improve travel times, reliability and frequency of services which will increase the patronage of regional public transport services. This will include improvements to the North East Line, the Gippsland Rail Line, services on the Geelong Line, as well as a study into improving the Shepparton Line, to support economic productivity and efficiency by connecting people with jobs, education, health facilities, markets and services in Melbourne.

Faster Rail Connecting Capital Cities and Orbital Regional Centres

The Australian Government is focussed on improving the use of rail transport to ease the pressures within Australia’s largest cities, and provide important links to regional centres. It is seeking to improve opportunities for regional centres while mitigating population growth pressures (including congestion, housing supply and affordability, and job accessibility) on our major capital cities.

In 2017–18 the Australian Government will encourage the development of proposals for improving passenger rail services between our big cities and nearby regional centres through faster and higher–speed services. It will call for the submission of formal proposals, and assess them to support the development of formal business cases. Business cases may have the opportunity to attract Australian Government project funding in future years from the $10.0 billion National Rail Program.

The Australian Government will provide $20.0 million in 2017–18 to support business case development.

Keys2drive Learner Driver Programme

The Australian Government will continue to support Keys2drive with a funding commitment of $16.0 million over four years from 2017–18. The program delivers a free lesson to learner drivers and their parent or mentor and will include a number of enhancements to expand uptake in regional areas.

Current Initiatives

Building Better Regions Fund

The Australian Government is investing nearly $300 million under the Building Better Regions Fund from 2016–17 to 2019–20. The Building Better Regions Fund invests in eligible projects in regional and remote Australia, outside the major capital cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, and Canberra.

Successful projects are required to deliver economic and social benefits, and grant funding is available through two funding streams, the Infrastructure Projects Stream and the Community Investments Stream.

National Stronger Regions Fund

The Australian Government has conducted three funding rounds of the National Stronger Regions Fund and is investing more than $630.0 million in infrastructure projects across Australia.

These projects will deliver economic benefits and address disadvantage, with most projects located in regional areas across Australia.

There will be no further funding rounds under this program.

Community Development Grants Fund

The Community Development Grants Fund provides funding for critical projects where the local community has identified the need for new or upgraded facilities. Projects range from new sporting facilities, to upgrading community centres and small-scale infrastructure projects.

Community Development Grants Fund projects contribute to the local economies, create jobs and boost the confidence within a region. To date, funding of more than $941.2 million has been committed to more than 750 projects including more than 450 projects from the 2016 Federal Election.

Drought Communities Programme

The Drought Communities Programme is designed to provide employment for people whose work opportunities have been affected by drought in eligible local government areas. The Australian Government is providing $35.0 million over four years from 2015–16, including $5.0 million in 2017–18.

Funding is targeted at local infrastructure projects that offer the greatest potential to stimulate local community spending, use local resources, and provide a long–lasting benefit to communities and the agricultural industries on which they depend. Eligible local government areas receive funding of up to $1.5 million to support projects. Projects must be completed by 30 June 2019.

Declared councils eligible to receive Drought Communities Programme funding are: Balonne, Barcaldine, Barcoo, Blackall–Tambo, Boulia, Bulloo, Burke, Carpentaria, Diamantina, Flinders, Longreach, McKinlay, Murweh, Paroo, Quilpie, Richmond and Winton in Queensland; Brewarrina, Coonamble and Walgett in New South Wales; and Buloke, West Wimmera and Yarriambiack in Victoria.

Tasmanian Jobs and Growth Package

Delivered by a number of departments, the $106.5 million Tasmanian Jobs and Growth Package is an initiative that complements the Australian Government's Economic Growth Plan for Tasmania—a package of measures aimed at stimulating Tasmania's economy by supporting growth and employment.

The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development is administering $80.3 million from 2013–14 to 2016–17 for 30 projects which support the economic development of Tasmania.

Roads to Recovery

The Roads to Recovery program will deliver funding of nearly $4.0 billion from 2013–14 to 2019–20, to local councils for road works chosen by the councils, and to States and Territories for roads in areas where there are no councils. Each funding recipient has a set allocation of funding over the life of the program.

In the 2016 Budget, the Australian Government committed to an extension of the Roads to Recovery program, with a further $50 million per annum from 2019–20 onwards to support construction and maintenance of local roads. The annual base funding for the program will increase to $400.0 million from 2019–20 and, of this, around $300.0 million will be provided to local councils in rural and regional areas.

Black Spot Projects

Black Spot Projects will receive funding of $624.5 million from 2013-14 to 2019–20, to help make roads safer for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. Each State and Territory receives a share of the total funding, based on population and crash data.

Black Spot Projects will continue to receive $60.0 million a year from 2020–21 for road safety works such as roundabouts, crash barriers and street lights at places where there have been serious crashes or where serious crashes are likely.

More than 60 per cent of road deaths and a significant proportion of serious injuries occur outside metropolitan areas. In line with national road safety policy objectives, approximately 50 per cent of Black Spot funds in each State (other than Tasmania, the ACT and the Northern Territory) are reserved for projects in non-metropolitan areas. This ensures that crash locations in rural areas are treated.

Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity

The Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity program will receive $288.0 million from 2013–14 to 2019–20, to provide funding to infrastructure projects that improve productivity and safety outcomes of heavy vehicle operations across Australia.

The Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity program funds road infrastructure that contributes to the safety and productivity of heavy vehicle operations across Australia delivering benefits to all road users.

Projects funded under the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity program include rest stops and parking bays, upgrading the capacity of roads, and technology trials aimed at improving heavy vehicle productivity.

Bridges Renewal Programme

The Bridges Renewal Programme will receive $360.0 million from 2015–16 to 2019–20 to provide funding for upgrades and repairs to bridges that enhance access for local communities and facilitate higher productivity vehicle access.

Since 2015–16, the Bridges Renewal Programme has funded 205 projects over two rounds with round three until 15 May 2017.

Developing Northern Australia—Improving Northern Cattle Supply Chains (Northern Australia Beef Roads Programme)

The Australian Government has committed $100.0 million from 2016–17 to 2019–20 to improve the productivity and resilience of the cattle industry in northern Australia. Funding will be used for road infrastructure upgrades, with contributions also being provided by the three northern jurisdictions, local governments and potentially industry, for projects which aim to reduce costs to the northern Australia cattle industry.

Opportunities to improve productivity were modelled using state–of–the art transport logistics modelling developed by the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation, (referred to as the ‘TraNSIT’ model). Successful projects were announced in October 2016 and construction on projects is expected to commence from mid–2017.

The Australian Government is also working with jurisdictions to agree Indigenous employment and supplier use targets for all northern Australia road projects under both the Northern Australia Roads and Beef Roads programs.

Northern Australia Roads Programme

The Australian Government has committed $600.0 million for the Northern Australia Roads Programme for priority road projects in northern Australia.

Roads identified in an audit of northern Australian infrastructure by Infrastructure Australia, along with other roads identified as priorities by the States and Territories, such as those connecting communities, or regional towns to ports were considered for funding, with successful projects announced throughout 2016.

Works will include upgrades, as well as safety and productivity improvements, such as widening, overtaking lanes, and pavement renewal. Construction on some projects is expected to commence from mid–2017.

National Highway Upgrade Programme

The Australian Government is investing $225.8 million from 2014–15 to 2019–20 under the National Highway Upgrade Programme.

The National Highway Upgrade Programme provides funding for improvements to Australia’s key national highway networks through works such as shoulder and centreline widening, wire rope barriers, overtaking lanes, turning lanes, bridges, and pavement improvements on highways around Australia.

Developing Northern Australia—Freight Rail Analyses

The Australian Government committed $4.9 million in 2015 as part of the Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia to undertake freight rail feasibility studies in northern Australia, including a pre–feasibility study on a potential rail line between Mount Isa and Tennant Creek.

The analysis is considering the viability and economic opportunities of a new freight transport link between Queensland and the Northern Territory, also considering the broader context of the corridor reaching from Townsville to Darwin.

The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development is collaborating with relevant governments on delivering the freight rail analyses measure.

Tasmanian Freight Rail Revitalisation

The Freight Rail Revitalisation program will raise the quality of the major lines on the Tasmanian rail network through selective re–sleepering and track replacement. The total project cost is $119.6 million with an Australian Government contribution of $59.8 million.

The program will reduce the operational costs of freight movements by providing additional rail capacity, improved reliability and reduced transit times. These upgrades will support the economic viability of high–tonnage businesses in regional Tasmania such as those in the cement and paper industries.

The current Freight Rail Revitalisation program builds on upgrades that were designed to keep the lines at an operational standard, with the objective of improving overall safety, reliability to support the competitiveness of the Tasmanian rail network.

Regional Aviation Access

Through Regional Aviation Access, the Australian Government provides targeted support for aerodrome infrastructure and air services to remote areas where they are not commercially viable.

The 2015–16 Budget allocated $33.7 million over four years to the Remote Airstrip Upgrade funding component to undertake safety and access works at airstrips in remote locations. On 10 February 2017, the Australian Government announced funding of $11.8 million for 91 projects across Australia, with many projects supported into 2017–18 to undertake works that are more complex. This follows the approval of 52 grants totalling $11.6 million announced in December 2015. The program improves the reliability of air transport for communities to access larger centres and receive essential flights.

The Remote Air Services Subsidy Scheme subsidises flights to ensure residents of 260 remote communities have access to regional service centres. $54.1 million is allocated to the Remote Air Services Subsidy Scheme over the four years from 2017–18.

Payment scheme for Airservices Australia’s En Route Charges

The Airservices Australia En route Charges Payment Scheme supports regional commercial airlines operating low volume, commercially vulnerable routes as well as aeromedical providers flying to regional and remote communities. The Airservices Australia En route Charges Payment Scheme offers eligible airlines a rebate of the Airservices Australia en route navigation charge for applicable flights.

Sixty per cent of the applicable en route charge is available to eligible airlines flying commercial routes. As an incentive to promote new services, new routes are eligible to be considered for funding equal to 100 per cent of applicable en route charges. Eligible aeromedical providers receive up to 100 per cent of applicable en route charges.

Aviation Security Enhancements—Regional and Remote Aviation Security Awareness

The Australian Government allocated $4.9 million from 2016–17 to 2020-21 for aviation security training at category 3–6 airports under the Regional and Remote Airports Security Awareness program.

In consultation with aviation industry representatives, security awareness training for people working at security-controlled regional and remote category 3–6 airports has been developed. Other airports and airport industry participants may also access the training if desired.

The training, which is voluntary, aims to embed security awareness into day-to-day operations and ensure that all staff are prepared for a security or emergency incident, should it occur. It also aims to assist workers and managers at airports to develop and/or refresh their understanding of their obligations toward contributing to a secure aviation environment.

Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme

The Australian Government supports the Tasmanian economy and regional Australia by assisting with the cost of transporting freight across Bass Strait. The Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme helps address the sea freight cost disadvantage incurred by the shippers of eligible non-bulk goods moved by sea between: the mainland of Australia and Tasmania; King Island and the main island of Tasmania; and the Furneaux Group of Islands and the main island of Tasmania. This assistance is provided because of Tasmania’s geographical location and because, unlike shippers on the mainland of Australia, shippers on these islands do not have access to a network of road and rail transport.

On 1 January 2016, the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme was extended to provide assistance to all currently eligible goods leaving Tasmania that are being shipped to locations beyond mainland Australia that are being trans–shipped through the mainland.

In 2017–18, the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme is forecast to provide $171.6 million in assistance to eligible Tasmanian shippers.

Victorian Infrastructure Package

In November 2016, the Prime Minister announced that the Australian and Victorian governments had reached agreement on a separate $3.0 billion Victorian Infrastructure Package that will unlock critical funding for more than 40 key road and rail projects across the State.

This package is being jointly funded by the Australian and Victorian governments on a 50:50 basis and, includes Australian Government funding of $345.0 million towards a $690.0 million Rural and Regional Roads package that will improve safety and increase productivity across regional Victoria. Projects to be funded include a new crossing of the Murray River between Echuca and Moama and targeted road upgrades in the Green Triangle.

The $440.0 million Murray Basin Freight Rail project is also jointly funded under the Victorian Infrastructure Package. The project, which will upgrade 1,000 kilometres of freight rail infrastructure across the Murray Basin, is expected to better connect primary producers to the State’s major ports, reduce transportation costs by allowing larger trains to move more product with each trip, and boost export opportunities.

Great Ocean Road (Victoria)

The Australian Government is investing $50.0 million from 2013–14 to 2018–19 to the $100.0 million upgrade of the Great Ocean Road in south–west Victoria. The upgrade is rehabilitating existing pavement, stabilising cliff and land slip sites, strengthening bridges and improving drainage assets between Torquay and Allansford. The upgrade will better connect villages along the south–west coast and increase tourism at famous attractions such as the Twelve Apostles and Bells Beach. The upgrade will also improve safety and reduce travel times.

The Australian Government committed $25.0 million towards this project in 2013 and a further $25.0 million under the Rural and Regional Roads Package that forms part of the $3.0 billion Victorian Infrastructure Package. Both commitments have been matched by the Victorian Government to enable a substantial upgrade of this iconic regional road. Construction commenced in August 2014 and the Victorian Government is developing a schedule of additional works to be undertaken utilising the additional funding.

Great Western Highway (New South Wales)

The Australian Government is contributing $200.0 million towards the $250.3 million upgrade of the Great Western Highway between Katoomba and Lithgow. The works include the upgrade of the highway at Forty Bends, safety upgrades between Katoomba and Mount Victoria, and a program of safety works between Mount Victoria and Lithgow. The project will improve road safety and road freight efficiency, while protecting the area’s natural environment, heritage and community amenity.

Pacific Highway (New South Wales)

The Australian Government is investing $5.6 billion over seven years from 2013–14 towards the upgrade of the Pacific Highway to a four–lane divided road between Hexham and the Queensland border. Over 70 per cent of the final highway length has been constructed and the full upgrade is due to be completed by 2020. This package of projects will reduce travel times, deliver significant freight benefits and reduce crash and fatality rates while meeting the needs of the coastal communities that live along the Highway.

Bruce Highway (Queensland)

The Australian Government is investing up to $6.7 billion towards the ten year program of works on the Bruce Highway from 2013–14 to 2022-23, focusing on a range of specific upgrades and safety packages agreed with the Queensland Government as part of the Infrastructure Investment Programme.

The projects include major upgrades and realignments, strengthening and widening type works, plus a range of safety and efficiency measures to target sites with poor crash histories, widen pavements and to provide additional overtaking lanes and rest areas.

Cape York Region Package (Queensland)

The Australian Government is investing $208.4 million from 2014–15 to 2018–19 to facilitate upgrades to infrastructure including improved road access into Cape York from the south.

The Cape York Region Package will consist of upgrading and sealing priority sections of the Peninsula Developmental Road, five sections of the Endeavour Valley Road and delivering community infrastructure projects to nine local government areas on the Cape.

The projects will provide benefits to the Cape York local community and local industry, including the mining sector.

Outback Way (Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia)

The Australian Government is investing $42.0 million from 2014–15 to 2018–19 towards the $75.8 million Outback Way project to upgrade sections to improve safety and access to remote areas. The project will unlock the potential benefits of the Outback Way, benefitting Indigenous and remote communities and the Australian economy, particularly in the areas of tourism, mining and freight.

The Australian Government has committed an additional $100.0 million to continue upgrading the Outback Way across Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Funding between these jurisdictions has been notionally allocated, with actual funding splits to be informed by an investment strategy to be developed by the Australian Government in consultation with the jurisdictions.

Adelaide to Tarcoola Re-Railing Upgrade Acceleration (South Australia)

The Australian Government has committed to fully funding up to $252.0 million in equity over three years from 2016–17 to the Australian Rail Track Corporation for the delivery of the Adelaide–Tarcoola Rail Upgrade Acceleration project. The Adelaide–Tarcoola section of track forms part of the Melbourne to Perth corridor and is approaching the end of its asset life with the majority of the rail between 45 and 60 years old. Production of steel rail and early preparation works have commenced for the upgrade of this section with stronger 60 kg/m rail.

The project will bring forward an order for approximately 73,000 tonnes of steel from Arrium Steel over the next three years and create up to 130 direct and indirect jobs over the life of the project, as well as other local jobs in the region.

Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands (South Australia)

The Australian Government is investing $85.0 million from 2015–16 to 2019–20 towards the $106.3 million upgrade of sections of the 210 kilometres of main access road between the Stuart Highway and Pukatja, and improving up to 21 kilometres of community roads.

This package of work will provide all weather access to airstrips in Pukatja, Umuwa, Fregon, Mimili, Indulkana, and to the Umuwa and Fregon homelands.

South Australian Regional Roads Package

The Australian Government will provide $11.0 million towards the $13.8 million South Australian Regional Roads Package to boost the economy, increase productivity, improve safety and create jobs. The Australian Government has allocated funds to road projects for regional South Australia, including works on the Sturt Highway, Eyre Highway, Lincoln Highway, Augusta Highway and Riddoch Highway.

Great Northern Highway—Muchea to Wubin Upgrade (Western Australia)

The Australian Government is investing $275.8 million from 2014–15 to 2019–20 towards the $344.8 million upgrade of the highway between Muchea and Wubin which will significantly improve freight efficiency and safety on this section of the National Network. Upgrades to this link will also contribute to the long term objective of enabling road trains to travel further south to Muchea before “breaking down” to B–double or single trailer configurations (road trains are currently required to “break down” at Wubin, some 220 kilometres north of Muchea).

NorthLink WA—Swan Valley Bypass (Western Australia)

The Australian Government is investing $648.4 million (including $54.4 million from the National Partnership Agreement on Infrastructure Projects in Western Australia) from 2014–15 to 2019–20 towards the $810.3 million project to construct a new 37 kilometre highway from the intersection of the Tonkin and Reid highways in Malaga to the Great Northern Highway at Muchea.

This will be divided into two stages: the Central Section from the Reid Highway to Ellenbrook and the Northern Section from Ellenbrook to Muchea. The new route will replace the Great Northern Highway through the Swan Valley as the main road freight route from Perth to the north of Western Australia.

Midland Highway (Tasmania)

The Australian Government is investing $400.0 million from 2014–15 to 2024–25 towards the $500.0 million upgrade of the Midland Highway to a minimum three star Australian Road Assessment Programme safety rating. This package of works will involve approximately 30 individual projects over the length of the highway.

The highway is the major route between Tasmania’s two largest cities, Hobart and Launceston, and the key freight route between Hobart and the northern ports. The project will improve connectivity and road safety on this key north–south corridor in Tasmania.

Regional Roads Productivity Package (Northern Territory)

The Australian Government is investing $90.0 million from 2013–14 to 2017–18 towards the $106 million project. Works include replacing bridges on the Roper Highway, improving flood immunity on Port Keats Road, sealing sections of the Santa Teresa Road, constructing a new bridge over Rocky Bottom Creek on Central Arnhem Road, strengthening, widening and sealing sections of the Buntine Highway, and installing gravel on sections of the Arnhem Link Road.

The Australian Government is also fully funding a $77.0 million package of works from 2014–15 to 2017–18 for the strengthening and widening of road pavements, flood immunity improvements, and fatigue management measures such as upgrading rest areas and intersection improvements through the Northern Territory Roads Package.

Regional Development Australia Committees

The Regional Development Australia Committee program provides a network of 55 committees of community leaders, working to strengthen Australia’s regions and build stronger communities. They achieve this by enhancing economic development opportunities and fostering effective communication between communities, business and all three spheres of government.

The Australian Government is continuing the Regional Development Australia Committee program, providing $74.3 million for the period 2017–18 to 2020–21. Current funding agreements have been extended until 31 December 2017. Key tasks for Regional Development Australia Committees include maintaining three to five year regional plans and advising on critical issues affecting economic development, as well as priority activities to drive economic development in their regions. Regional Development Australia Committees also assist local community stakeholders to develop project proposals, identify appropriate funding sources and promote Australian Government programs.

Local Government Financial Assistance Grant

The Local Government Financial Assistance Grant program established under the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995 provides financial assistance to local governments across Australia to enable them to meet local priorities. The Australian Government is continuing the Financial Assistance Grant program which will provide an estimated $8.8 billion to local government over the period 2017–18 to 2020–21—approximately $2.5 billion per year. The funding is untied and consists of two components:

  • a general purpose component which is distributed between the States and Territories according to population; and
  • an identified local road component which is distributed between the States and Territories according to fixed historical shares.

Services to Territories

The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development administers the Territories of the Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Coral Sea Islands, Norfolk Island and Jervis Bay, and manages national interest in the Australian Capital Territory, and the Northern Territory.

The Department delivers services, provides funding support and undertakes capital works with the objective of ensuring that Territory communities have access to similar services as equivalent mainland communities.

Indian Ocean Territories

The Australian Government continues to support the communities of Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands through the provision of essential services and funding for the operation of major infrastructure. These include healthcare, education, policing and ports and airports management. In 2016–17 the Australian Government provided $118.4 million in funding for services to the Indian Ocean Territories. The Australian Government continues to support air services arrangements for the Indian Ocean Territories, with a focus on placing these on as commercial a setting as possible. The Australian Government further provided funding for water–mapping and stormwater management studies and a Master Plan for Flying Fish Cove on Christmas Island.

Norfolk Island

Since passing legislation which extended Commonwealth laws to Norfolk Island from 1 July 2016, the Australian Government has continued to invest in improvements to service delivery. In addition, New South Wales has agreed for its laws to be applied, creating a modern body of State law. These will be phased in over time in consultation with both New South Wales and the Norfolk Island community so as to facilitate a smooth transition.

State Government type services are provided by New South Wales, the Norfolk Island Regional Council and the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. In 2016–17 the Australian Government provided $22.6 million in funding for services to Norfolk Island. The Australian Government has further invested $16.4 million over four years from 2015–16 in the upgrade of the Cascade Pier which will facilitate greater access to Norfolk Island by cruise ships and support containerised cargo, in addition to $3.4 million from 2016–17 for the Norfolk Island Central School and $2.8 million over two years from 2015–16 for the Norfolk Island Health and Residential Aged Care Service.

Jervis Bay

The Australian Government supports the community of the Jervis Bay Territory by funding the provision of State and Local Government type services. In 2016–17 the Australian Government provided $6.4 million in funding to support these services. State Government services are delivered by the Australian Capital Territory. The Australian Government, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory continue to consider the proposal for New South Wales to deliver State Government type services in Jervis Bay.

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