The NSW Government has announced a $350 million Budget boost to the new NSW Regional Development Trust Fund and reforms to the Regional Development Act to better reflect the needs of regional communities.
Minister for Regional NSW and Western NSW, Tara Moriarty said the Trust defines a new approach to supporting people living in rural, regional and remote areas.
“These reforms to grant funding and the Regional Development Act demonstrate our government is putting the needs of regional people at the heart of our decision making. Our communities deserve this after a decade of waste, pork barrelling and poor results,” she said.
“We are committed to ensuring rural, remote and regional communities not only get their fair share but that we are making a real and positive difference to their lives, towns and businesses.
“We are also committed to distributing funds to where they are needed most.”
The Minister said the Trust will focus on improving the wellbeing of people, by improving local amenities, social cohesion, and job opportunities.
Funding decisions of the Trust will be guided by a new Regional Development Advisory Council that will also play a key role in engaging communities to update the Regional Development Act, she said.
As part of the reforms, the NSW Government will:
- seek community input on updating the Regional Development Act 2004 to better reflect the priorities of regional and remote communities;
- make a starting investment of $350 million into the Regional Development Trust;
- establish the Regional Development Advisory Council to provide governance and expert advice on the priority matters requiring the Trust’s investment and advising on the reform of the Regional Development Act.
The Regional Development Trust Fund will strategically invest in four focus areas:
- Sustainable regional industries, including emerging and engine industries;
- Aboriginal economic development and enterprise;
- Community infrastructure and capacity building;
- Improving regional service delivery.
Decision making on investment from the Trust will be guided by the investment principles of the Australian Government’s Regional Investment Framework.
Establishment of the Advisory Council and public consultation on reforming the Act will get underway as soon as possible, the Minister said.