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Regional Growth Fund

If elected in March 2018, a Liberal Government will commit to injecting $150 million over the following 10 years to support employment growth in the regions.

The Problem

Our regions are the backbone of our economy.

They contribute over $25 billion of our annual Gross State Product.

They represent 29% of South Australia’s population.

But they have been neglected by the city-centric Labor Government since 2002.

At the last election, the Liberals announced a policy to provide annual funding of $15 million to the regions to support job creation.

Labor only matched that commitment after the 2014 election when it was forced into minority government.

Labor’s lack of commitment to the regions means that long-term funding to important regional projects is not guaranteed through the current Regional Development Fund (RDF).

The Weatherill Government has also failed to administer the RDF in a consistent way.

For example, round four of applications has been abandoned due to over-subscription to previous rounds while some projects have received RDF support when the funding could have come from other programs.

Concern has also been expressed during our consultation about the application of RDF funds that more smaller businesses have not always been able to benefit because in some cases funding has gone to bigger companies with greater capacity to make investments without government assistance.

The State Liberals' Plan

If elected in March 2018, a Liberal Government will commit to injecting $150 million over the following 10 years to support employment growth in the regions.

To reflect a new focus on regional growth, we will re-badge the funding mechanism as the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) with new criteria for allocating funds.

Our vision for our regions is that they are supported to grow in economic prosperity, security and opportunity.

To help achieve that vision, the objectives of the RGF will be to:

  • Facilitate new economic opportunities
  • Build and strengthen communities

Applications for RGF support will be assessed and prioritised against the ability to deliver on these objectives.

The framework for assessment of funding applications will be based on the following principles:

  • Support for new economic activity that would not occur otherwise
  • The activity can be sustained without further intervention by government after the funding is provided
  • The activity creates benefit for multiple entities, including entities not directly associated with the application
  • The activity contributes to the scale of an industry or sector
  • The application has a connection to and has vested an interest in a specific regional community

Assessments made in accordance with these principles will ensure the activities funded are those best able to grow employment and regional communities.

Under our RGF, funding will only be contributed to activities which result in net increases in employment rather than re-allocating existing employment between businesses or locations.

Growing employment in this way will support stronger population centres and contribute to the vibrancy of regional communities. In turn, our regions will be able to support a broader range of amenities and community activities, helping to attract and retain younger populations.

Requiring activities receiving financial support from the RGF to deliver broader economic growth will also encourage clustering of businesses participating in the same value chain.

This longer term commitment to support regional employment growth will provide greater certainty in the same way our Regional Roads and Infrastructure Fund will guarantee another major funding stream over the next decade to recharge our regions.