REGIONAL Australia is critical to our national economy and this year’s budget delivers significant new investment across all areas of government that will create jobs and promote economic prosperity in the Far North.
Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch said last night’s 2016–17 Federal Budget boosts connectivity, builds critical infrastructure, supports innovation and fosters local leadership to support communities in the region.
“Building on the Coalition Government’s achievements over the last three years, the 2016-17 Budget will support stronger, more liveable regional communities with better infrastructure—including transport links and digital networks—more support for our rural health workforce and better access to health care,” he said.
“The 2016–17 Regional Ministerial Statement released with the budget, Investing in Regional Growth, outlines almost 400 measures that support regional Australia across health, education, employment, defence, infrastructure, telecommunications, agriculture and water resources and other portfolios which will benefit families in FNQ.”
Approved infrastructure projects that will benefit Far Northern businesses, residents and industry are:
Investment Road and Rail Programme
• $15m in 2016-17 for the Bruce Highway – Cairns Southern Access Corridor (Robert Rd to Foster Rd)
• $48.8m in 2016-17 for Cape York Region Package
• $86.7m in 2016-17 for other Bruce Highway upgrades including Black Spots from Sarina to Cairns, Pavement Widening from Ingham to Cairns, overtaking lanes, rest areas and realignments.
Black Spot Programme
• $450,000 in 2016-17 to upgrade various roads and intersections in Cairns under the Cairns Bicycle Network project through Cairns Regional Council.
Roads to Recovery
• $10.17m in 2016-17 to Far Northern councils to upgrade local roads.
Stronger Communities Programme
• $300,000 over 2015-16 and 2016-17 to Far Northern councils and not for profit community groups towards small infrastructure or capital projects with a demonstrated community benefit.
• $100m in 2016-17 under the Northern Australia Roads Package (Hann Highway etc)
• $35m in 2016-17 under the Beef Roads Package
• $43.8m over 5 years to establish the NAIF in Cairns, with $5b concessional loan facility
• $2b National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility
• The listing of The Retinal Photography of non-Mydriatic Cameras measure on the Medicare Benefits Schedule to cover the testing of diabetic retinopathy disease with a non-mydriatic camera.
• Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine- Independent Pathway to Fellowship will enable general practice registrars training on the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine Independent Pathway to claim Medicare benefits for the services they provide in rural and regional areas whilst training.
• Rural General Practice Grants Program will improve rural health services by redesigning Rural and Regional Teaching Infrastructure Grants Program, in order to create a more streamlined Program.
• Providing $73.6 million over four years for the network of 55 Regional Development Australia Committees (RDAs), to foster and strengthen local leadership across regional communities.
The 2016-17 Budget builds on the record investment the Coalition Government has already made since coming to office to create stronger and more prosperous regions including:
• An unprecedented $50 billion investment upgrading and building safe and reliable land transport infrastructure across the country
• The $6 billion White Paper on Developing Northern Australia
• The $4 billion Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper
• The $2.4 billion for regional roads through the Roads to Recovery programme
• The $1 billion National Stronger Regions Fund
• Investing $5.2 billion to connect regional households and businesses to the National Broadband Network
• More than $710 million in drought assistance and support to farmers and rural communities experiencing hardship
• An additional $298.2 million over four years to support the National Ice Action Strategy, which came after the Australian Crime Commission identified ice dealers were targeting rural and regional Australia
• $160 million to fix thousands of mobile black spots under the Mobile Black Spots Programme all of which goes to rural and regional areas
Further information on the Infrastructure Investment Programme allocations nationwide can be found online at http://investment.infrastructure.gov.au