2018-19 Federal Budget Report: Regional Australia

Regional Australia has been identified as a source of major growth and the Government is keen to continue grow regional economies, creating new and better paying jobs and giving families the opportunity to keep living and working in regional communities.

What was announced

  • $200 million for a third round of Building Better Regions Fund to support regional infrastructure and community investments up to 2021-22;
  • Increased support for farmers, including $102 million for biosecurity and $26.6 million to better manage pests and weeds;
  • Increased spending on Australian tourism locations, including $500 million to support environmental protections and 64,000 jobs connected with the Great Barrier Reef;
  • Significant funding towards 6 university medical schools, 18 rural clinical schools, 15 University Departments of Rural Health, 6 dental schools and 26 regional training hubs
  • New Child Care Subsidy to commence from 2 July 2018, $1.2 billion for Child Care Safety Net; and
  • $40 million in capital grants over four years from 2019-20 for aged care facilities in regional, rural and remote Australia and improve access for older Australians living in these locations.

Practical support to be provided for farmers

In addition to the small business $20,000 instant asset write off and Research & Development incentives, a wide variety of measures are being introduced to support Australian farmers:
  • $2,500 rebates to cover up to half the costs of eligible business in obtaining independent and professional advice in applying for insurance policies with drought management and other production and market risks
  • $250 million made available annually over ten years from 2016-17 for drought loans
  • $6.3 million over two years to be available in grants to support farmers and provide easier access to agricultural and veterinary chemicals

Better connectivity

Connecting regional Australia better including 3.5 million regional Australian premises to better internet as fixed-line broadband, fixed wireless services or improved satellite services and a further $82.8 million to establish a further 125 mobile base stations.

Education

  • The Government has announced $96.1 million over four years from 2019 to support regional education, including:
  • 500 additional Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs) at university annually for sub-bachelor degrees or enabling courses;
  • 185 CSPs annually for bachelor degree courses at Regional Study Hubs; and
  • Increases to the Parental Income Test when considering regional student’s eligibility to access Youth Allowance.

Health

$83.3 million has been committed over five years from 2017-18 to achieve a stronger rural, regional and remote health outcomes. This includes funding towards 6 university medical schools, 18 rural clinical schools, 15 University Departments of Rural Health, 6 dental schools and 26 regional training hubs as well as increased funding for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
 
The Government is looking to simplify child care subsidies by replacing the current multiple payment system with payments direct to child care providers. Specific funding is to be provided for the Child Care Safety Net and the Community Child Care Fund to assist vulnerable or disadvantages families and communities.
 
Aged care providers in regional, rural and remote Australia are potentially eligible for $40 million of Government capital funding grants over four years from 2019-20.

Other measures

$51.3 million over four years from 2018-19 to boost growth in Australian agriculture and food exports, including expending trade networks in the UK, Mexico, Japan, India, Chile and Russia.
 
Wine producers who exceed their Wine Equalisation Tax rebate cap can access a grant of up to $100,000 for cellar door sales from 2019-20.