Regional Growth Fund

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (15:00): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Can the minister advise the house on how the state government is delivering on its commitment for the Regional Growth Fund?

The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE (Chaffey—Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development) (15:01): I certainly can. I thank the member for Hammond, a great champion of the Murraylands, one of the great regions of South Australia. As many members of this house are aware, the Regional Growth Fund was a 100-day commitment by the Marshall Liberal government. It was there to support regions to grow their economy and employ more people and to make sure that growth fund was launched in a way that was competitive, fair and didn't prioritise individuals as the previous government did.

We have opened up that $150 million Regional Growth Fund. It was recently launched with the $5 million competitive funding round, and it is currently open until 31 August. Funding is available from $50,000 to $2 million on a matched dollar-for-dollar basis. In addition, the $10 million strategic stream through the Regional Growth Fund is open for applicants all year round. I would encourage members in this house to assess the guidelines as to whether there are opportunities for their constituents to apply. The fund will support projects that unlock new economic activity in our regions, creating jobs and building and strengthening regional communities.

It's also important to note that there has been extreme interest since it opened. In the first 17 days we had 130 views per day, and the guidelines in the frequently asked questions have been downloaded hundreds of times. As I travel across regional South Australia, this initiative is being applauded because it is there for the growth of regional communities, and it is there for regional industry and for commodities to advance their businesses to make sure that they can grow.

It's there for regional communities, for regional industries, so that they can work as a cluster. They can work as collaborators so that we can actually see regions grow, rather than individuals gaining a benefit over their neighbours or over their competitors. For too long, we have seen the previous government picking winners to the detriment of their neighbours. What I will say, travelling across the regions, is this fund has been opened. It was a 100-day commitment. It's supporting growing our economy and employment in our regional centres. We all know that the regions here in South Australia have been neglected for 16 long years.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE: Those regions are now seeing the green shoots of support through a Liberal government. This government is essentially putting funds in place that will support communities, supporting those industries that are looking for that support. It's about helping growers, industry and regional communities to help themselves. It is not about individuals having a benefit or an individual competitive advantage when it comes to government taxpayers' money being issued. I want to encourage that clustering of businesses. I want to emphasise to every member in this house that clustering and collaboration of the communities and the businesses will be the way of this government's future in growing our economy and growing jobs.

It's also important to note that the regions are the backbone of our state's economy—$25 billion, which is supported by less than 30 per cent of the state's population. It's also important to note that a Marshall Liberal government recognises the need to support our regions to grow our economy and create jobs. We know that the regions are one of the great sustainable industries. They have been for over a century now and they will continue to be. With good governance and good support, the Regional Growth Fund will be a great asset to the regions of South Australia because remember that hashtag #RegionsMatter.