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Budget 2018: More than $10 billion earmarked for Northern Australia

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SENATOR THE HON MATTHEW CANAVAN Minister for Resources and Northern Australia


10 May 2018


The Coalition Government now has more than $10 billion earmarked for spending in Northern Australia.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said today last night’s Budget had added $3.3 billion to funds dedicated to projects in the north.

“Roads funding in Northern Australia has received $1.9 billion in new funding, protection of the Great Barrier Reef over $557 million, remote Indigenous housing in the Northern Territory $550 million and services funding to the NT almost $260 million.

“This adds to the $6.86 billion already committed to Northern Australia across a range of areas, including the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility ($5 billion), the Northern Australia Roads Programme ($600 million), defence capability in the Northern Territory ($200 million), water-related projects ($216 million), the Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor ($147 million), the Townsville stadium ($100 million), the Beef Roads Programme ($100 million) and the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia ($75 million).

“This does not take into account the considerable funding for health and education that will be spent in the North.

“It also doesn’t include the $260 million in new funding to develop more accurate GPS satellite technology, $100 million for the current Exploring for the Future program to help discover oil, gas and mineral deposits and assess groundwater resources, $50.1 million to support regional airports to upgrade security, and $24 million for future rounds of the remote airstrips upgrade program. All of these will significantly benefit Northern Australia.”

Minister Canavan said the Government had extended its commitment to improving vital infrastructure, investing in resources and agriculture, using innovation, science and technology to support industry development, and supporting communities in regional areas.

“Our investment is about growing vital industries such as mining, agriculture and tourism across the North, and providing jobs and support to the vibrant communities these industries help sustain.”

Minister Canavan said a feature of the 2018 Budget was a new program, Roads of Strategic Importance, investing an additional $1.5 billion directly in Northern Australia.

“These funds will upgrade key corridors across Northern Australia to improve road reliability and safety, connect industry and producers to markets, and provide better access throughout the year for communities.

“A further $440 million will be spent on three other road projects in the North.

“We have committed $160 million to the Outback Way, linking Winton in Queensland with Laverton in Western Australia via the Northern Territory.

“Building on previous funding to improve this important inland route, these funds will make the Outback Way safer and more accessible year-round, encouraging economic activity such as tourism right across the country, and making travel safer for communities along the route.

“We have also committed an additional $280 million for upgrades to roads in the Northern Territory, with $180 million for the Central Arnhem Road Upgrade and $100 million to upgrade the Buntine Highway, again supporting the pastoral industry and regional communities.

“A further $3.3 billion has been committed for upgrades to the Bruce Highway, which includes funding for sections in northern Queensland.

“The budget delivers further support for communities in the north through access to the $200 million for a new round of the Building Better Regions Fund, and through $24 million for future rounds of the Regional Aviation Access Programme.”

Minister Canavan said industries and communities in the North would also benefit from the Government’s commitment in the Budget to:

 grow trade links with countries to the north through $51.3 million to increase Australian agricultural exports, $3.6 million for the Indonesia-Australia Red Meat and Cattle Partnership and $20 million for Small and Medium Enterprises Export Hubs;

 access a more reliable workforce through $48.6 million for the Pacific Labour Scheme, and $4.7 million for the Seasonal Agricultural Labour Demand and Supply initiative; and  improve protections for Australian producers through a $102 million commitment to enhancing Australia’s biosecurity system.

“The Government's strong economic management is enabling us to make crucial investments in infrastructure that will grow our northern economy and create more jobs,” Minister Canavan said.

“These funding measures further strengthen the Government’s commitment to developing Northern Australia, a region vital to the economic prosperity of all Australians.”

Media contact: Martin Bowerman 0428 303 189 02 6277 7180

Authorised by Senator M. Canavan, Rockhampton