Regional Australia measures

Budget Review 2022–23 Index

Elliott King

Regional areas of Australia typically receive substantial spending commitments in each Budget. Spending can be characterised as:

  • direct spending through measures which have a particular region or regions in focus, such as the construction of new facilities, or
  • indirect spending through national programs, such as grant programs, Medicare, research, and general assistance programs which are not necessarily geographically confined and impact all Australians.

The minister responsible for regional affairs generally releases a Regional ministerial budget statement (RMBS) detailing current initiatives and new measures that affect regional Australia across all portfolios. The RMBS effectively provides a snapshot of programs that the Government considers ‘regional’. For example, the Keys2Drive program (RMBS, p. 243) is reported, but is available to all Australians.

The 2022–23 Budget includes a range of new spending measures with a regional focus covering infrastructure, dams, and ‘regionalisation’ packages. It also extends measures from previous budgets and repackages measures that have previously been provided for in economic statements.

This article focuses on the Regional Accelerator Program and Energy Security and Regional Development Plan measures, and also includes some other smaller measures targeted at regional Australia. Infrastructure investment, dams, and energy measures are covered in other Budget review articles.

Regional Accelerator Program

The Regional Accelerator Program (RAP) is a grant program intended to administer $2 billion over 5 years across a range of sectors. Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2022–23 (p. 150) describes the RAP as providing dedicated funding for ‘regional businesses and communities to access programs targeted to local priorities in infrastructure, manufacturing and industry development, skills and training, research and development and education’.

The RAP appears to operate as a grant program within a grant program—specific RAP grant rounds will be run under other Commonwealth grant programs. In a post-Budget media release, the Minister for Regionalisation, Regional Communications and Regional Education set out the amount of RAP funding allocated to each grant program:

The ‘Regionalisation Fund’ is a new grant program intended to provide ‘investment in regional infrastructure’ through ‘larger grants, of, say, $10 million or more’. Minister McKenzie’s media release states that program guidelines will be released and applications will be open from 1 July 2022. The Infrastructure portfolio budget statement allocates $400 million of the fund over the forward estimates (p. 56).

At time of writing, it is unclear whether the RAP will have specific eligibility criteria, and if so, what they may look like, given it is running within other grant programs.

Energy Security and Regional Development Plan

According to Budget paper no. 2 the Energy Security and Regional Development Plan will provide $7.1 billion in funding ‘to support existing programs’ in 4 regional hubs across Australia over the next 11 years (p. 133). The plan’s funding is intended for infrastructure projects specific to each hub’s identified strengths (RMBS, p. 216). Budget paper no. 2 (p. 133) and Minister Joyce’s related media release include additional details about these projects, including the total funding allocated to each hub:

  • $2.6 billion to the Northern Territory to support critical mineral processing, local manufacturing, and ‘the region’s position as an industrial and renewable energy hub’
  • $1.7 billion to North and Central Queensland to support the agricultural industry and ‘industry diversification’, water infrastructure investment, and ‘supply chain projects that promote water security’
  • $1.5 billion to the Pilbara region in Western Australia to support mining, mineral processing and local manufacturing, and to provide investment in hydrogen and renewable energy projects
  • $750 million for transport infrastructure projects in the Hunter region in NSW.

Specific projects earmarked for funding in each hub account for about $5.39 billion of the $6.55 billion total allocation. According to the minister’s media release, the NT’s project list accounts for $2.55 billion, Queensland projects account for $1 billion, WA comprises $1.47 billion, and NSW, $368.8 million. The minister has alluded to additional projects being announced under this program ‘in due course’.

Stakeholder views

The Regional Development Plan has generated some controversy due to the absence of projects in Victoria, claims that the funding priorities are mistargeted, and that this package may only exist due to the Liberal and National parties’ agreement concerning the Government’s position on a net-zero target by 2050.

A range of mining companies operating in the Pilbara welcomed the measures targeted at the region.

Other measures which target regional Australia

Budget paper no. 2 details several measures that support regional and peri-urban Australians. The 2 largest new measures are the recently announced South East Queensland (SEQ) City Deal and Albury-Wodonga Regional Deal. Funding of $680.6 million has been allocated to projects in SEQ over the next 11 years (p. 151) and $83.2 million has been allocated to projects in Albury and Wodonga over the next 5 years (p. 129).

The Prime Minister also announced on 17 March additional funding—amounting to $49.0 million over 3 years—through the Perth City Deal to support the construction of Edith Cowan University’s Cultural and Creative Industries CBD campus.

Funding for existing city and regional deals is generally made under National Partnership Payments (NPP) to the relevant jurisdiction. Table 1 sets out the payments for the new expenditure items in the 2022–23 Budget over the forward estimates. A full table showing NPPs under all regional deals and city deals is available in the annex to this article.

Table 1 2022–23 Budget new city and regional deals

$ million Albury Wodonga Regional Deal South East Queensland City Deal Perth City Deal Total
  NSW Vic Qld WA Selected regions
2021–22 - 0.7 86.8 87.5
2022–23 7.5 12.5 44.8 78.7 143.5
2023–24 9.5 10.5 122.0 74.0 216.0
2024–25 21.0 - 111.5 74.0 206.5
2025–26 15.0 - 85.6 - 100.6
Total 53.0 23.7 363.9 313.5 754.1

Source: Australian Government, Budget Paper No. 3: Federal Financial Relations: 2022–23, 62 and 66.

Note: These figures may differ from figures reported in the annex due to the time differences in reporting for the Budget and the response to Senator Sterle’s Question on Notice.

Other measures in Budget paper no. 2 that will directly affect Australia’s regions and are not already covered in the Budget review, include:

  • the extension of Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program ($501.7 million over 3 years from 2022–23) (p. 144)
  • funding to support agriculture shows ($15.4 million over 2 years from 2022–23) (p. 50)
  • funding to support the development of community microgrid projects in regional and rural Australia ($148.6 million over 5 years from 2022–23) (p. 125)
  • the extension of the Regional Airports Screening Infrastructure, and an extension of the Regional Airline Network Support program to 30 June 2022 ($28.5 million over 2 years from 2021–22) (p. 132)
  • upgrade the ACT’s Scrivener Dam ($38.5 million over 4 years from 2022–23)
  • installation of 3 new sculptures in the Parliamentary Triangle ($38.5 million over 4 years from 2022–23) (p. 147)
  • support state-type service delivery on Norfolk Island and continue funding for essential services ($118.0 million over 4 years from 2022–23) (p. 150).


Table 2 presents the total payments and estimated payments made under each city and regional deal since 2019. These agreements are usually negotiated to last a decade and do not tend to have new expenditures announced in different budgets. Details from Budget paper no. 3, and the 2019–20 and 2020–21 Final Budget Outcomes have been compiled to show payment allocations across all signed city and regional deals. It should be noted this reflects ‘on budget’ expenditures and may not capture other financing arrangements (such as concessional loans) to which the parties may have agreed.

Table 2 City deal reporting in Budget documents ($m, nominal)

Payments ($ million) 2019–20 2020–21 2021–22 2022–23 2023–24 2024–25 2025–26 Total
Adelaide City Deal 3.2 9.6 51.7 42.0 49.5 5.0 - 161.0
Albury Wodonga Regional Deal 1.5 0.7 20.0 20.0 21.0 15.0 78.2
Barkly Regional Deal 1.3 3.8 11.4 10.8 - - - 27.3
Darwin City Deal 25.0 45.0 27.8 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 99.7
Geelong City Deal 1.5 10.1 25.3 48.0 51.7 44.6 - 181.2
Hinkler Regional Deal 0.3 7.5 3.0 - - - 10.8
Hobart City Deal - - 128.6 254.6 351.2 194.2 91.2 1,019.8
Launceston City Deal 2.5 3.9 98.8 67.7 30.3 - - 203.2
Perth City Deal 27.8 130.4 104.3 80.7 57.5 - 400.7
South East Queensland City Deal - - - 44.8 122.0 111.5 85.6 363.9
Townsville City Deal - 15.0 48.0 121.4 74.2 18.0 - 276.6
Western Sydney City Deal 23.7 530.2 717.1 780.1 452.3 192.3 2,695.6
Total 33.5 140.7 1,060.4 1,434.2 1,560.1 904.6 384.6 5,517.9
Basis FBO Budget  Total

Source: Australian Government, Final Budget Outcome, various years; Australian Government, Budget Measures: Budget Paper No. 2: 2022–23; Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee, Answers to Question on Notice, Infrastructure Portfolio, Budget Estimates 2022–23, Document provided in response to Senator Glenn Sterle, 31 March 2022.

Note: FBO means ‘Final Budget Outcome’ for the corresponding financial year, and Budget means ‘Federal Financial Relations: Budget Paper No. 3’ in this case for 2022–23. Figures are presented to one decimal place.


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