BUDGET 2020: Nationals In Government Deliver for Regional Australia

The Nationals in Government will continue supporting job-creating, economy-boosting infrastructure, as part of our Economic Recovery Plan for Australia, rebuilding our economy to secure regional and rural Australia’s future.

The Nationals in Government are delivering a record $110 billion transport infrastructure program and $3.5 billion rolling water infrastructure fund to support local jobs and businesses at a time it is needed most.

Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Leader of The Nationals Michael McCormack said the Budget delivered on our economic plan for a stronger and more resilient Australia, boosting the economy, providing water security for regional and rural Australia, meeting our national freight challenge and getting Australians home sooner and safer.

“The Budget includes new and additional funding in the 2020-21 Budget for projects and initiatives, supporting more than 30,000 direct and indirect jobs over the life of the projects, to get Australia back to work and back in business following the pandemic,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

Minister for Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the Government was boosting farm exports, investment in the agricultural workforce and ensuring regional Australia could build resilience to drought, floods and bushfires.

“This is a Budget that makes the necessary investments to set regional and rural Australia up to keep driving the nation’s economic recovery,” Minister Littleproud said.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said the Budget backed the resources industry, unlocked Northern Australia’s potential and boosted water security for farmers.

“Our gas-fired recovery plan will deliver more jobs, as we introduce strong reforms to the North Australia Infrastructure Facility and help farmers lead the recovery effort through a $50 million extension to the On-Farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme,” Minister Pitt said.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Darren Chester said The Nationals in Government were delivering more funding for veterans and our Australian Defence Force.

“We are providing more than $100 million to bolster mental health support for our veterans and their families, whilst providing Defence with more than $42 billion this financial year – that’s what The Nationals in Government are able to deliver,” Minister Chester said.

KEY ACHIEVEMENTS IN PORTFOLIOS HELD BY THE NATIONALS IN GOVERNMENT

National

  • Road Safety program – $2 billion (building on the existing $500 million for Targeted Road Safety Upgrades)
  • Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program – $1.5 billion (including additional funding in 2020-21 Budget of $1 billion)

New South Wales

  • New England Highway – Singleton Bypass and Bolivia Hill Upgrade- $603 million
  • Coffs Harbour Bypass – $1.5 billion (including additional funding in 2020-21 Budget of $490.6 million)
  • Newcastle Inner City Bypass, Rankin Park to Jesmond – $360 million
  • Prospect Highway Upgrade – $120 million

Victoria

  • Shepparton Rail Line Upgrade – Stage 3 – $320 million
  • Warrnambool Rail Line Upgrade – Stage 2 – $208 million
  • Barwon Heads Road Upgrade – $292 million
  • Hall Road Upgrade – $84.5 million

Queensland

  • Coomera Connector Stage 1 (Coomera to Nerang) – $750 million
  • Centenary Bridge Upgrade – $112 million
  • Riverway Drive Stage 2 (Allambie Lane – Dunlop Street) – $76 million
  • Mt Lindesay Highway Upgrade – Johanna Street to South Street – $42.4 million

Western Australia

  • Reid Highway Interchange – West Swan Road – $87.5 million
  • Roe Highway Widening and Abernethy Road Upgrade – $70 million
  • Goldfields Highway (Wiluna to Meekatharra) construct and seal priority sections – $16 million
  • Broome-Cape Leveque Road Upgrading and Community Access Roads – $16 million

South Australia

  • Hahndorf Township Improvements and Access Upgrade – $200 million
  • Main South Road Duplication Stage 2 – Aldinga to Sellicks Beach – $136 million
  • Strzelecki Track Upgrade – $100 million

Tasmania

  • Hobart to Sorell Corridor – Midway Point Causeway (including McGees Bridge) and Sorell Causeway – $150 million
  • Tasman Bridge Upgrade – $65 million

Northern Territory

  • Carpentaria Highway Upgrade – $120 million
  • National Network Highway Upgrades – $46.6 million

Australian Capital Territory

  • Molonglo River Bridge – $87.5 million
  • Canberra – South West Corridor upgrade package – $50 million

AGRICULTURE PORTFOLIO: CONGESTION BUSTING TO BOOST FARM EXPORTS

The support the Australian Government is providing includes:

  • $222.2 million over 4 years for digital services to take farmers to market. This will deliver a modern and reliable digital service to help farmers do business quickly and cost effectively – a single touch point for exporters that is available 24/7.
  • $14.3 million over 3 years for improving regulation post COVID-19 including targeted intervention for the seafood and live export sectors and providing dedicated case managers to help new exporters get on the front foot and existing exporters to expand and diversify their markets.
  • $10.9 million over 3 years for building a more competitive export meat industry and working with industry to streamline export and production costs to remain competitive.
  • $10 million over 4 years for busting congestion for plant export industries. Streamlining border clearances for plant exports by reducing manual processes and improving service times and cost savings for exporters.
  • $71.1 million over 3 years for Australian export services critical to ensuring our products make it to export markets.

AGRICULTURAL WORKFORCE

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the seasonal agricultural workforce, posing major challenges for the 2020-21 summer harvest.

Through the Budget, the Australian Government is investing $17.4 million in relocation assistance and $16.3 million to incentivise young Australians to take up farm work by temporarily changing Youth Allowance (student) and ABSTUDY independence eligibility criteria.

FLOODS AND DROUGHT

The Australian Government is also committed to supporting communities impacted by the 2019 North Queensland floods and the ongoing drought.

The Government is investing $155.6 million over four years to support drought and flood-impacted communities. This includes:

  • $50.0 million in 2020‑21 to extend the On‑farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme,
  • $19.6 million in 2021‑22 to extend the drought function of the National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency for a further year to continue coordination and community engagement for the Government’s response and recovery activities; and
  • $86.0 million over four years from 2020‑21, through the Future Drought Fund, to establish eight Drought Resilience and Adoption Hubs that support networks of researchers, farmers, agricultural business and community groups to enhance drought resilience practice, tools and technology.

The Government is also investing $60 million for 2019 Monsoon Trough: A strategy for long-term recovery to provide a blueprint for recovery from and resilience against future economic shocks as a result of natural disasters. The investment will fund five locally-led initiatives that support resilience, improve access to reliable and affordable telecommunications and energy services, increase disaster planning and preparedness, encourage economic diversification and support the mental wellbeing of young people.

THE RESOURCES PORTFOLIO

As part of our gas-fired recovery plan, the 2020-21 Budget includes $28.3 million to develop five Strategic Basin Plans which will unlock and accelerate the development of vast gas reserves, increase domestic supply and lower prices for households and businesses. This will start with plans for the Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory and the North Bowen and Galilee Basin in Queensland.

The Budget also includes $124.5 million to fund an expanded Exploring for the Future Program.

The program, operated by Geoscience Australia, will deliver detailed data on potential resources in vast areas that have yet to be fully explored. This funding will help unlock new resources along two major corridors identified as resource-rich in both western and eastern parts of Australia generating new job and economic opportunities.

In addition, the Government is providing $13.7 million over four years to provide quality assured scientific research and information to communities living in gas development regions through the CSIRO’s Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance.

THE NORTHERN AUSTRALIA PORTFOLIO

Reforms to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) will ensure the $5 billion facility will have more flexibility to bankroll investment in a wider range of projects across northern Australia, and will speed up investment approvals. This comes on top of July’s announcement of a five-year extension to the NAIF until 30 June 2026.

The Coalition Government is committed to creating jobs across northern Australia to help the region play a stronger role in Australia’s economic recovery.

We are empowering the NAIF to accelerate lending and providing greater flexibility in how it can support projects driving economic and population growth – during the challenging business environment due to COVID-19.

THE WATER PORTFOLIO

The Morrison-McCormack Government is boosting our support for farmers by providing an additional $50 million to extend the On‑Farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme.

This scheme has provided real assistance to some of our hardest-hit farmers by helping them install new water infrastructure to make them more drought-resilient and I am pleased we can work with the states to continue helping them.

The Budget also includes funding for measures announced in August in the Murray-Darling Communities Investment Package that will build trust and transparency, as well as improve the health of the rivers and Basin communities.

The package puts communities and jobs at the heart of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan while also delivering for the environment and agriculture.

THE VETERANS’ AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO

$101.7 million to further bolster mental health support, including increasing fees paid to mental health, social work and community nursing providers, and expanding Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling, especially in regional and remote areas.

$23.7 million for increased transition and employment support, including the establishment of a Joint Transition Authority (JTA) to ensure all transition services and supports are working together, and greater civilian employment opportunities for veterans and support for those starting their own business.

$25.9 million to deliver additional assistance for Totally and Permanently Incapacitated (TPI) veterans, including increased support for those that live in rented accommodation.

THE DEFENCE PORTFOLIO

The Government will provide Defence with $42.7 billion in 2020-21 and $190.2 billion over the Forward Estimates. This includes:

  • $24.3 billion of active infrastructure projects spread throughout Australia’s states and territories, including our regions, which since the implementation of the Local Industry Capability Plans has seen 73 per cent of infrastructure work awarded to local companies and businesses.
  • $728 million to continue to fund major operations. Australia currently has around 2,300 Defence personnel deployed around the world, including on operations across the Indo-Pacific and the Middle East region.

11,000 Australian companies directly benefit from the Defence investments, and when further downstream suppliers are included the benefits flow to approximately 70,000 workers.

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