Regional Growth Fund

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (15:00): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. You are very popular. How will the Regional Growth Fund assist to grow the regional economy and create jobs?

The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE (Chaffey—Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development) (15:00): It's a pity the opposition don't think more about the regions than they do about the member for Lee. I thank the member for Hammond.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Members on my left!

The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE: He's a champion for the regions.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE: He's one of the champions for regions here in South Australia. One of the key election commitments that this government made was that we were going to underpin regional development. We were going to give long-term certainty to the regions here in South Australia. Under a Marshall Liberal government, we are going to shine the spotlight on regional South Australia.

For many, many years—16 to be precise—the regions have been forgotten, but under a Marshall Liberal government we have made a long-term 10-year commitment of $150 million that we would put in place as the Regional Growth Fund here in South Australia. The fund will support projects that unlock the economic activity in our regions and create jobs, building and strengthening regional communities. For far too long, a previous government was just handing out little pockets of cash. The member for Lee wouldn't understand what it's like for the regions to miss out when it comes to infrastructure and when it comes to growth. The regions do matter. The regions here in South Australia are critically important to our economic—

Mr Bignell interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The member for Mawson is warned.

The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE: —prosperity.

The Hon. S.K. Knoll: And that was just your expenses bill.

The SPEAKER: The Minister for Transport is also warned.

The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE: What I can tell you is that the Regional Growth Fund guidelines are part of our 100-day commitment, our 100-day election pledge to South Australians. The regions have long wanted a government that would actually put a spotlight on and support regional South Australia to grow jobs and build our economy, remembering that 28 per cent of South Australia's population generates over 50 per cent of South Australia's merchandise exports. It's a critical platform to growing our exports, growing our economy and driving those jobs.

Essentially, this Regional Growth Fund will provide funding that will be of benefit to regional centres and industry to build the commodity sector. It won't be there to pick winners and it won't be there to pick individual businesses over other businesses. It won't give one benefit of a business next door to another business. What it will do is develop and create opportunities for sectors—regional sectors, industry sectors and community sectors—that have long been forgotten by a previous government.

What is really important is that, through that consultation period, that 100-day commitment will be met in the coming days. This government will make an announcement on how that Regional Growth Fund will be rolled out and how South Australian regions will benefit from that $15 million per year. It's also critically important to note that the RDA (Regional Development Australia) groups will be consulted, as will local government organisations and industry. We will consult far and wide to make sure that regional South Australia is given a fair share of taxpayer funds. It's also critically important to understand that the commitments for that Regional Growth Fund will be based on the following principles:

support for a new economic activity that would not otherwise occur;

the activity can be sustained without further intervention by government after the funding has been 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; and

the application has a connection to and has vested an interest in a specific regional community. This is a regional growth fund that has long been wanted. It's about supporting the regional sector. It's not about supporting individuals, it's not about putting one business over another business or one town over another town: it's about supporting regional South Australia because hashtag #regions matter.