The Regional Investment Corporation will fund water infrastructure.
The Regional Investment Corporation will fund water infrastructure. Alistair Brightman

Billions budgeted towards regional infrastructure

BILLIONS will be spent on regional infrastructure under new funding methods in the Federal Budget.

But the budget did not specify what areas the money will be spent in, nor did it set aside new money for new "city deals" in regional areas.

The Federal Government will fund a $4 billion Regional Investment Corporation to assist with farm debt and water infrastructure. Half the scheme will manage farm business concessional loans and the other half water infrastructure loans.

A $472 million Regional Growth Fund will target infrastructure needs across regional Australia including $200 million to expand the Building Better Regions program. 

The budget has also targeted regional students with six community-run "study hubs" to be in regional areas. The location of the hubs was not revealed.

The number of university students in regional Australia was predicted to grow from 216,000 this year to 225,000 in 2020-21.

Regional lobby groups had called for the widely-praised agreements with local and state governments to be expanded beyond Townsville, Launceston and Western Sydney but the budget was restricted to those three.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said the growth experienced in major cities was not universal.

"Not all Australians have shared in this hard-won growth. Many remain frustrated at not getting ahead," he said.

"This is especially true in areas where technological change, globalisation and the end of the mining investment boom has had a significant impact."

But changes to regional funding will also cost some farm households who will no longer be able to access long standing support.

The Farm Household Allowance will now be capped at a maximum of three years. Households that have accessed the fund since it was founded will be no longer eligible.

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