12 May 2009
Joint media release
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry - The Hon. Tony Burke MP
Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government - The Hon. Anthony Albanese MP
The Rudd Government will invest a record $24 billion in rural and regional Australia, to build stronger communities, deliver better infrastructure, and protect regional and rural communities from the worst of the global recession.
The 2009-10 Budget provides:
– $866 million to support primary producers, including $715 million for on-going drought support measures, such as Exceptional Circumstances assistance;
– $1.7 billion to support local communities;
– $21.2 billion to upgrade regional infrastructure;
– $156 million to protect Australia’s unique biosecurity status; and
– over $450 million to drive rural research and development, which includes matching contributions from industry.
Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Anthony Albanese said, “the Rudd Government is delivering record funding for regional and rural infrastructure to support jobs, stimulate local economies and deliver long-lasting benefits in communities.
“Regional and local infrastructure is central to the Government’s stimulus plan to support our communities during the global recession.
“Regional and rural communities across Australia will benefit from a record infrastructure investment of more than $21 billion on regional roads, highways and railways over six years.
“This funding is more than double the amount spent by the previous government in the same time frame.
“Transport infrastructure projects range from the Pacific, Hume and Bruce highways and regional freight rail networks to black spots, local country roads and boom gates at rail crossings.
“Every council and shire in regional Australia will share in $430 million from the $800 million Community Infrastructure Program.
“Work is already underway, with more than 3,000 local projects being funded across Australia.
“Community infrastructure projects being funded include new and upgraded local community centres, town halls, sports grounds, swimming pools, parks and playgrounds, as well as revitalising town centres and main streets.”
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke said “rural and regional Australia continue to feel the effects of the global recession. The Government is working hard to minimise its impacts on our rural and regional economies, to build stronger communities, and to boost productivity and growth for the long-term.”
“Helping our primary producers prepare for climate change and promoting their role in global food security are also top priorities for the Rudd Government.”
Mr Burke welcomed the general improvement in drought conditions in many parts of the country, but said the Government remained ready to provide support to families still in the grip of drought.
He said the Government was consulting with industry on its response to Inquiry recommendations on how to improve drought support for the future.
Around 44% of Australia is currently Exceptional Circumstances-declared, down from nearly two-thirds of Australia a year ago.
“I am sure all Australians welcome this improvement, but it’s also important to remember many farmers are still struggling in a number of regions,” Mr Burke said.
“We will continue to ensure support is provided to drought-affected families.”
Progress also continues on responding to recommendations from the Beale Review into Australia’s quarantine and biosecurity system.
Other initiatives for rural and regional Australia include:
- $156 million to ensure biosecurity measures continue at our airports, seaports and mail centres (including $92.2 million through the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and nearly $63.8 million through the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service);
- $715.3 million for on-going drought support measures such as Exceptional Circumstances assistance;
- The $46.2 million Climate Change Research Program to help primary producers prepare for climate change, including important work in the priority areas of soil carbon, livestock emissions and nitrous oxide;
- With industry matching, more than $450 million will be committed to support research projects across the nation’s rural research and development corporations;
- Annual reimbursement grants of up to $1,500 for farmers and industry grants of up to $80,000 are available through FarmReady;
- Caring for our Country, which has already provided funding support for 186 Landcare projects worth $38 million in total and Reef Rescue projects worth $29.8 million;
- A $3.2 million Live Trade Animal Welfare Partnership to continue to improve animal welfare in the live exports industry, based on an unprecedented 50:50 government-industry cost-sharing arrangement;
- A $20 million investment in the forestry industry, with $1.5 million already committed in 2008-09 to help predict the impact of climate change at a regional level;
- $2.5 million for 28 weeds research projects through the new, coordinated Weeds Research Centre across areas including livestock grazing, wetlands and rainforests;
- Supporting growers and exporters under the new, reformed bulk wheat export marketing system, including providing up to $9.3 million in transitional assistance; and
- $5.4 million to develop and implement a national fruit fly strategy.