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Regional Australia: investing in our future



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Media Release

THE HON ALEX SOMLYAY MP Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government

R E G I O N A L A U S T R A L I A : I N V E S T I N G I N O U R F U T U R E

The Coalition's $3.5 billion Regional Australia Strategy responds to the needs of regional communities with a package of measures to improve services and promote investment and jobs.

The Coalition's Tax Plan delivers significant benefits to regional Australia - slashing costs for regional businesses, producing stronger regional economies, more jobs and better standards of living.

Transport costs in Australia will be cut by $3.5 billion, with regional Australia being a big winner from this. The Tax Plan will cut the costs of agricultural industries by over $1 billion.

The policy statement also highlights a range of new initiatives for regional Australia - initiatives such as:

• the $70 million Rural Transaction Centres programme, to arrest the decline in services in rural communities by establishing 500 locally operated transaction centres in small country towns (providing access to banking, postal, Medicare claim, and telephone and fax services);

• a $41.6 million expansion of the Rural Health Service Centres network (providing access to doctors, aged care, child care and immunisation services);

• a $30 million programme to double the number of Medicare Easyclaim facilities in rural and regional pharmacies;

• a $50 million programme of Rural GP Retention Grants, to help rural communities keep their doctors;

• a new $10 million programme of flood mitigation works in major regional centres (in addition to the previously announced $10 million Rural and Regional Floodplain Management Programme);

• a $91.5 million Regional Skills Shortages Incentive Scheme to encourage employers in regional areas to take on apprentices in trades where there are labour shortages;

a $120 million Television Fund to extend SBS-TV coverage and improve television reception in regional communities;

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• an $81 million expansion of the Regional Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund to ensure Internet access at local call rates for all Australians, to provide continuous mobile phone coverage on our major highways, and to improve communications services on remote island communities;

• a $195 million extension of the Roads of National Importance Programme and an $80 million expansion of the Road Safety Blackspots programme;

• a $20 million programme to upgrade the capacity of Australia’s bridges, a vital component of our national transport infrastructure; and

• a $30 million programme to rehabilitate the Great Artesian Basin, a vital national resource providing an essential water source for the mining and pastoral industries.

The breadth of the Coalition's response to the needs of regional Australia far exceeds anything produced by Labor in 13 years of government.

Only the Coalition has an achievable and realistic plan to boost investment, create jobs and build vibrant regional economies.

Labor’s promises represent a return to their failed policies of the past. The centrepiece of Labor’s promise to regional Australia is to restore funding for regional bureaucracies - a promise which does nothing for jobs, nothing for business investment and nothing for community services.

Labor is opposed to cutting the tax burden on regional Australia. Labor wants higher transport costs.

Labor failed regional Australia in the past and, unlike the Coalition, has nothing to offer regional Australia in the future.

Regional Australia cannot afford a return to Labor.

ENDS

29 September 1998

Contact: Graeme Hallett 0419 218 469