The Coalition came to government last September with a new focus on regional Australia.
Australia faced a $47 billion deficit for the 2013-14 financial year alone and $123 billion of accumulated Labor deficits to 2016-17.
Expenditure reductions are not the whole answer. We must also invest in things that make our country strong and will drive economic growth.
That’s where the regions are so important.
Our new $1 billion National Stronger Regions Fund will be up and running next year. Organisations, including councils and community
groups, will be able to apply for grants between $20,000 and $10 million for community infrastructure.
We are also investing heavily in the essential transport infrastructure needs of regional communities. Our $50 billion investment in transport infrastructure is the largest by any Australian Government.
The abolition of the carbon tax will save local families hundreds of dollars a year, local businesses thousands of dollars a year and local communities millions of dollars every year.
This Government did not create the economic problems besetting our country, but we were elected to fix them. Fundamental to that repair job
is backing Australia’s regional businesses and communities for growth. The Nationals hold our commitment to regional Australia at our core.
The Government’s Building Stronger Regional Communities commitment includes a range of programmes and initiatives to build stronger regional economies and communities. These include:
> Over $2.34 billion in water infrastructure upgrades for the Murray-Darling Basin, working to restore one of our greatest natural resources to full health whilst supporting economic development.
> $50 million for the 20 Million Trees Programme that will provide job opportunities for Australians while also providing solutions to local conservation needs.
> $18.2 million under the Regional Aviation Access Programme for infrastructure upgrades to remote airstrips across Australia.
> $320 million for a comprehensive drought support package that will support farm businesses, families and communities that are experiencing
hardship and help them recover when the current drought ends.
New Free Trade Agreements with Japan, South Korea and, ultimately, China, mean better deals for our exports.
The Nationals are focused on a strategic plan for growth in regional areas.
These strategies will be based on sound, evidence-based policies informed by a broad suite of White Papers.
The Nationals, as a key part of this government, recognise the vital role regional areas can, and must, play in overcoming Australia’s national challenges and driving economic development.
Through our policies and investment programmes, the Australian Government is building stronger regional communities.