Orange, Central NSW. Destination NSW

This Government recognises the valuable contribution of our regions and is committed to supporting their growth and prosperity by investing in services and infrastructure across New South Wales.

The Government is on track to meet the Restart NSW priority infrastructure target of allocating 30 per cent of infrastructure spending to our regions over time. This includes the Government’s pledge to invest $6.0 billion of the $20 billion Rebuilding NSW plan in regional and rural infrastructure projects, ensuring that residents across New South Wales share in the proceeds of the State’s poles and wires transactions.

By 30 June 2017, around $9.1 billion will be committed or reserved for projects and programs in regional NSW, including the Rebuilding NSW plan. This is comprised of $3.8 billion committed from Restart NSW and $5.3 billion reserved for a future commitment. Significant new regional reservations include $1.0 billion reserved for the Regional Growth: Economic Activation Fund to unlock economic growth and deliver quality services in regional NSW.

These investments will provide a significant boost to local communities in terms of employment, health, education and lifestyle.

At the same time, this Budget invests in upgraded and new roads as well as railways and bridges to connect regions with cities and one another, making for faster movement of goods and improving access for visitors.

Some of the Government’s new and existing key regional investments are highlighted in this document.

  • $46.0 million over four years to boost wireless access and internet capacity in around 900 regional schools under the Connecting Country Schools program
  • continued funding for the Rural and Remote Early Childhood Teaching Scholarship programs to help early childhood educators upgrade their qualifications.
  • $59.6 million in 2017-18 of the $300.0 million reserved for Regional Multipurpose Services Facilities, which offer medical and allied health services
  • eight additional positions for palliative care specialists in rural and regional locations and 300 scholarships for palliative care training in regional and rural Local Health Districts
  • $214.6 million over four years including $177.7 million over two years to enhance critical communication services used by frontline health, emergency and law enforcement officers to better protect our citizens 
  • $20.1 million to transform 24 motor registries in regional and rural communities into Service NSW centres.

The Government is continuing to progress the following Rebuilding NSW regional transport programs:

  • $2.0 billion for the Regional Road Freight Corridors program to upgrade key regional highways, ensuring regional producers, who feed our State and beyond, can save time and money when transporting their goods (of which $648.5 million has been committed from Restart NSW)
  • $1.0 billion for the Regional Growth Roads program to build new infrastructure in regional growth areas, targeting roads in the Lower Hunter, Central Coast and south of Wollongong in the Illawarra (of which $408.8 million has been committed from Restart NSW)
  • $500.0 million for the Fixing Country Roads program to improve local and regional roads managed by local governments (of which $54.2 million has been committed from Restart NSW)
  • $400.0 million for the Fixing Country Rail program to improve regional rail networks (of which $11.0 million has been committed)
  • $200.0 million for the Bridges for the Bush program to replace and upgrade bridges in regional NSW (of which $38.6 million has been committed from Restart NSW).

Other significant announcements which build and connect regional economies include:

  • $208.0 million in 2017-18 for major road upgrades in regional NSW
  • $322.0 million over four years for the upgrade and maintenance of Country Rail assets, including the replacement of timber sleepers, resurfacing track and replacement of bridges and culverts
  • $439.2 million over four years for Restart NSW grants to regional local communities for essential roads, water and community service projects
  • $25.0 million in 2017-18 to begin planning and commencing procurement of the Regional Rail Fleet program to replace the ageing XPT diesel fleet
  • funding for a new complying development code to fast-track development approvals.
  • $200.0 million over three years toward a Stronger Country Communities Fund to support public facilities such as swimming pools, health centres and community halls
  • $100.0 million over four years for a Regional Cultural Fund to support cultural and artistic activities in regional and rural communities.
  • Rebuilding NSW includes $1.0 billion for the Safe and Secure Water program to address water challenges faced by communities in regional NSW. This includes investing in infrastructure to secure water supplies, providing improved wastewater and sewerage services, and upgrading dams
  • $107.1 million committed from Restart NSW since the 2016-17 Budget for the Regional Water and Waste Water Backlog program to improve water quality and sewerage in regional communities
  • the procurement process is underway to deliver the 270-kilometre pipeline from the Murray River to Broken Hill to secure a permanent and reliable water supply for Broken Hill.
  • $177.0 million for Local Land Services to work with farmers, landholders, and rural and regional communities to improve primary production and better manage our natural resources. This includes $20.0 million in 2017-18 to implement and deliver the New South Wales Government’s Land Management and Biodiversity Conservation Reforms
  • as part of the Sustaining the Basin program supported by the Commonwealth Government, New South Wales will spend $78.0 million in 2017-18 to deliver the Basin Pipes, Irrigated Farm Modernisation and Healthy Floodplains projects
  • $75.0 million for the continuation of concessional loans under the Farm Innovation Fund to assist farmers to prepare their business for future drought
  • $65.0 million investment over 10 years for an historic research and development partnership with the Grains Research and Development Corporation to extend research into winter crop development, infrastructure capacity development and skill development
  • $64.0 million over 10 years on the national project to eradicate Red Imported Fire Ants
  • $15.0 million over four years for the AgSkills strategy to support the New South Wales agriculture sector to attract and retain workers
  • $6.0 million over four years for the Young Farmer Program, to help young farmers improve long-term financial resilience and build capacity and capability.

In addition to sustainability measures, the regions are a significant beneficiary of Government investment to protect and maintain our natural environment. Some of these measures include:

  • $44.0 million in 2017-18, with a total of $240.0 million over five years, invested in facilitating strategic biodiversity conservation on private land 
  • $41.0 million in 2017-18 to help local councils prepare and implement coastal and floodplain management plans and undertake works
  • $35.0 million in 2017-18 to manage pest animals and weed populations to reduce their impacts on biodiversity, cultural heritage and other values within the state’s national park system and on park neighbours
  • $40.0 million in 2017-18 to manage fire risk in national parks and reserves, including $3.3 million ($6.6 million over two years) to replace two helicopters with a newer fleet to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of fire response services
  • $9.4 million in 2017-18 to ensure ongoing availability of large air tankers to enhance the State’s bush emergency fire-fighting capability during the fire season
  • $24.0 million in 2017-18 (part of $100.0 million over five years) to protect threatened species through the Saving our Species program.

Investing in our environment also helps our regional economies by growing tourism and supporting sustainable jobs.

The Government is assisting regional NSW with:

  • continued support for events such as the Australian round of the World Rally Championships in Coffs Harbour, Ironman Australia in Port Macquarie, the Deni Ute Muster in Deniliquin and a world-class motorsport racing track at Mount Panorama in Bathurst
  • a $43.0 million regional commitment over four years from 2016-17 for the creation of six new Destination Networks, tourism marketing, and a Regional Conferencing Unit aimed at attracting more visitor dollars to our regions
  • a $24.4 million Restart NSW commitment to the Visitor Experience program at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, from within the $300.0 million Regional Growth: Environment and Tourism Fund. This is part of the $20 billion Rebuilding NSW plan
  • various investments in National Parks and Wildlife initiatives to improve facilities, amenities and the overall visitor experience.
  • Employment in regional NSW has grown by 4.9 per cent since April 2015, the strongest regional employment growth of all states. 
  • New South Wales regions have experienced a significant uplift in employment growth over the last two years. This reflects the ability of the regions to adapt to a growing demand for services.
  • Over the last two years the move towards a service-based economy has been particularly pronounced, with almost all of the regional employment gains driven by the services sector.
  • Regional NSW now has the highest share of service-based employment compared to regions in other states. This share has increased from 51 per cent in 2008 to its current level of 57 per cent. This growth has been across all service sectors, including social services, personal services and business services.
  • In particular social services to households, such as public administration, education and health, have grown at an annual average rate of 3.4 per cent over the last decade and accounted for more than two thirds of regional employment growth. Health and social assistance is among one of the largest sectors in regional NSW.
  • The overseas and domestic visitor boom has benefited the whole state. In 2016 rural and regional NSW welcomed nearly 60 million visitors, a rise of more than 7 per cent. Regional tourism accommodation added a total of $1.0 billion to the economy in 2015 16.
  • Regional employment in food and accommodation services grew 4.1 per cent in the year to February 2017, well above the decade average of 1.7 per cent.
*Based on ABS data for state comparisons.