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Budget wins for growth areas

  • $4 billion to the Urban Congestion Fund - Despite this Fund appearing to be a non-competitive discretionary fund, NGAA many NGAA members have benefitted from it, including with highway and arterial road upgrades in Melbourne’s north and south-east, Perth’s north and south-west and Sydney’s west. This augurs well for continued focus on growth areas and plays well for the positive, lighthearted tone we have taken for National Nightmare Commute Day on Thursday 4 April.
  • Establishment of Centre for Population to inform and coordinate the development of population policy across Government which is a good start to our call for reformed and rebalanced planning and cities policies.

Status Quo

  • Extension of the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education for the 2020 calendar year and to undertake the related National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection in early 2021. The extension will support 15 hours of preschool each week (600 hours per year) for children attending preschool in 2020 before starting school in 2021.
  • $206.2 million from 2019-20 for a further round of the Building Better Regions Fund, to support investment in community infrastructure and capacity building projects in regional areas – noting only some sections of some NGAA members are eligible.
  • No new Community Infrastructure funding with only $42.5 million for the Community Sport Infrastructure Program.

Potential wins (but more detail required)

  • Establishment of the National Faster Rail Agency with priority given to faster rail Melbourne-Geelong (noting the Victorian Government is not on board).
  • $27.2 million over four years for a Social Cohesion Package, in line with NGAA members community building priorities including Community Languages Multicultural Grants Program and Fostering Integration Grants Program to support community organisations to assist newly-arrived migrants to integrate into Australian society    

Omissions

  • Community Infrastructure at the scale needed in growth areas
  • Capacity building for local government entering City Deal negotiations

Overall, this Budget – at a time of political uncertainty – has a strong focus on infrastructure, with new initiatives that could further support growth areas, dependent on the outcome of the May election.

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