Regional fund feud

REGIONAL JOBS: The State Government and State Liberal Leader have clashed over the Liberal's announcement of their $15 million per year Regional Growth Fund.
REGIONAL JOBS: The State Government and State Liberal Leader have clashed over the Liberal's announcement of their $15 million per year Regional Growth Fund.

State Liberal Leader, Steven Marshall announced a policy on Monday, committing $15 million a year to support job growth in regional South Australia, through a Regional Growth Fund (RGF), which will match the State Government’s current funding through the Regional Development Fund. 

This policy has been quickly criticised by Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis who says the policy could amount to a funding cut for regional South Australia. 

“All the Liberals have announced today is that they will match what Labor is already doing.”

“The State Government already invests $15 million each year through the Regional Development Fund, so what the Liberals have announced is nothing new.”

The State Government increased the Regional Development Fund (RDF) from $1.6 million to $15 million four years ago through an agreement with Regional Development Minister, Geoff Brock. 

In the past four years, the RDF has provided $60 million in grants to support job growth in the regions. 

“The Liberal policy announced effectively puts a cap on that regional development funding, meaning it can’t be increased to account for inflation.”

“That will amount to a funding cut for regional South Australia after the next four years.”

“We have supported the successful sale of Arrium, delivered solar thermal for Port Augusta, helped upgrade Nyrstar in Port Pirie and backed the world’s biggest battery for Jamestown. That amounts to thousands of jobs in the regions”, Treasurer Koutsantonis said.

The policy locks in funding for 10 years, resulting in an outcome of it being unable to increase over time to account for inflation.

Liberal Leader, Steven Marshall says the $15 million a year will be delivered over a ten year period and have a clear mandate to facilitate new economic opportunities.

“It will advantage small business and empower local communities by ensuring that grants are awarded to projects that genuinely need additional funding to become a reality.”

“We will work with communities and businesses to help deliver important local projects rather than just wasting taxpayers’ dollars on bureaucracy and chasing cheap headlines.”

Shadow Minister for Regional Development, David Ridgway says the Treasurer’s claim is absolutely laughable and shows he is just playing political games with our regions. 

“The State Liberals have committed $150 million over ten years to establish the Regional Growth Fund, which creates a long term funding source to support regional job creation.”

“By contrast the Weatherill Labor Government’s Regional Development Fund commitment was a pathetic $1.6 million prior to their agreement with Geoff Brock.”