REGIONAL GROWTH FUND (2)

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (15:08): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Can the minister inform the house as to how the state government is stimulating the economy through the Regional Growth Fund?

The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE (Chaffey—Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development) (15:09): Yes, I can. I thank the member for Hammond for his important regional question, because on this side of the chamber, representing all of South Australia once again, the regions are the beneficiaries.

What we have seen is that the Marshall government has brought forward the Regional Growth Fund, once again, a $15 million stimulus round of the Regional Growth Fund, to give more life back into the regions, particularly after the COVID-19 impact, particularly after we have seen the continual headwinds that the regions have endured not only through bushfires, not only through drought, but again the COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted on many, many businesses not only in the city but in regional South Australia; they, too, have had the headwinds.

To facilitate the Regional Growth Fund, we have seen fit to bring forward another $15 million as a stimulus round. This round is a new round. It will fast-track the recovery in our regional economies. It is critically important that businesses that see fit and want to be a part of a growing economy put submissions into this latest round. It will close on 6 July, but it's about stimulating an economy in the regional centres that, again, are critical to the state's economy. It's also important to note that this is on the back of another stimulus round. Directly after the COVID-19 pandemic was announced, we also announced an extra $5 million of stimulus through the Regional Growth Fund. That is key to rebuilding the confidence in the regions' economy.

The applications are now open; $2 million is the cap to unlock business investment. It is really about jump-starting some of those regional economies. It's also very, very important to understand that sits on the back of the amount of applications that already came in. The $5 million stimulus round has had 33 applications seeking over $19 million of funding. That's $19 million of stimulus into the regions.

We are also seeing the confidence in the business models that is now being exposed, with the stimulus round of the Regional Growth Fund. This is on the back of and just exemplifying what the regions are going through at the moment. The Seasonal Jobs website, if we look at that, has over 2,000 page views every day. That's almost 70,000 since the Seasonal Jobs website was released. That's more than 57 job advertisements across a number of industries. For example, Citrus South Australia has been inundated with applications for jobs, and that has saved the 2020 citrus season, so that's an outstanding success.

What I will say is that the Regional Growth Fund, the stimulus round, is open. It's open for businesses in regional South Australia. So for every member in this chamber that has a regional representation, I urge you to tap on the shoulder of those businesses to say that you've got a government that is again stimulating the local economy, and it's about building our businesses. It's about giving them the opportunity to employ more people and to give every regional person an opportunity to be part of a stimulus package.

Here in South Australia we are attracting investment into this great state, strengthening regional economies and creating regional jobs in a scandal free, non-toxic environment, unlike our friends across the border with their rotten Labor branch-stacking scandals. Here in South Australia #RegionsMatter.