A Shorten Labor Government will help drought affected towns get back on track with a $20 million Regional Economic Development Fund, that will be used to help stimulate local economies and support local jobs.
New South Wales and Queensland have been battling severe drought, with parts of Western Queensland like Longreach, drought declared since 2013.
With no rain in sight, and hot and dry conditions predicted over spring and summer, the severe and harsh conditions are taking a terrible toll on farmers and their families.
As assistance to farmers is rolled out, drought-affected towns and their local economies dealing with the flow on effects of the drought will also need support to get back on track.
Labor will create a new $20 million fund to stimulate local economies and support local jobs. The Fund will continue the work of the existing Drought Communities Programme that the Government has failed to fund beyond this financial year, and be re-designed to provide local communities with the support they need.
This fund is a targeted investment, based on local knowledge, and will be directed to local government to invest in shovel-ready projects, but also towards diversifying and strengthening local economies for the future. This may include boosting local tourism opportunities and attracting new industries to the regions.
Labor knows the crucial role local councils play in the regions. Local councils know what the community needs to get back on track – which is why we will work directly with them to fund projects.
Projects which could expect support under this fund include local road and street infrastructure, and small-scale capital developments like community facilities and sporting fields.
For example, the Palaszczuk Government’s initiative to erect wild dog fencing around Western Queensland, which provided a big boost to the region’s sheep industry, is exactly the sort of practical economic-boosting projects it is envisaged this fund will support.
This new fund is all about providing that extra bit of targeted assistance direct to local councils, harnessing the local ideas and know-how only held by those on the frontline of the drought.
Labor knows the strength and resilience of Australia’s rural and regional communities. Our regions have a bright future, and we want to ensure they have all the help they need to get back on track.