Regions to vie for funding

THE Federal Government is setting regions to compete against each other in order to receive funding.

During the announcement of $1.4 billion for the Regional Development Australia (RDA) Fund at a national forum at the Canberra Convention Centre, Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean told representatives of the 55 RDA committees they would have to fight for their share.

Mr Crean said the government wanted the funds to help boost regional economies with creative solutions.

“It’s not a fund that gives each region the same amount of funds,” he said.

“It’s a competitive fund.

“We want applications that stack up. Projects that will boost economic development, create local jobs and lift the quality of life in local communities and regions.

“The allocation of funding will be competitive, merit-based and only applications that have the backing of local RDA committees will be considered.”

Grants between $500,000 and $25 million will be available.

“Those grants of more than $5 million must be matched by funds from sources other than the Australian Government,” Mr Crean said.

“To ensure an immediate and positive impact, projects also have got to be investment ready. All the planning, rezoning, environmental and native title approvals should be in place.”

The $1.4 billion allocation includes $350 million set aside for disaster relief in regional communities, with the disaster funding to be assessed on the same criteria as the rest of the fund.

“Being voluntary, these committees can not operate on good will alone and that’s why I’m pleased to announce that the government will provide an extra $4 million in additional funds to strengthen the RDAs,” Mr Crean said.

“This is in addition to the $15 million per annum that we already commit to the RDAs. The funding will also support the RDAs in their engagement of measures around the Murray Darling Basin engagement and the NBN feasibility studies.”

How the extra $4m will be spent:

  • all the RDA committees will receive an extra $25,000, GST exclusive, to support RDA community engagement and capacity building;
  • all RDAs will receive $8000 GST exclusive to cover the issue of travel costs;
  • $100,000 GST exclusive to each of the 11 RDA committee in the Murray Darling Basin;
  • $200,000 RDA committees to undertake early feasibility studies on opportunities associated with NBN.

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