CONTINUED funding for health services and infrastructure in regional Australia were the feature of a business- as-usual budget yesterday.
The recent passage of the Minerals Resource Rent Tax secured the remaining $573 million needed to fill the coffers of the $974 million Regional Development Australia Fund, but there was little indication yesterday where the $200 million earmarked for the second round of funding would be heading.
Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean pointed to the benefits of broader projects, many of which were leaked before budget day.
The $3.7 billion national aged care plan, aimed at improving aged care service delivery, recognised special regional needs and included zero real interest loans and a viability supplement to assist providers in targeted areas.
The second regional specific round of funding under the Health and Hospitals fund provided more than $475 million for 76 new health infrastructure projects across regional Australia.
The roll-out of the ehealth system was boosted to the tune of $233 million, including $35 million for the regional Queensland ehealth project.
From July 1 this year the program will allow Australians to register and create a personal and portable ehealth record, which will help ensure they can receive the care they need, where and when needed.
There was also money, more than $100 million over four years, to help dentists and doctors move to rural areas and keep the ones already there.
The regional road network attracted big dollars with billions promised for highway upgrades as well as $300 million over five years to continue the Black Spot program and $1.75 billion over the same period for the Roads to Recovery Program.
The Seatbelts on Regional School Buses program will be maintained with $4 million allocated over four years.
An additional $1.6 million was allocated to extend Federal assistance to the National Disaster Recovery Taskforce until June next year. The Taskforce was set up in response to the flood and cyclone disasters of recent years.
Natural disaster early warning capabilities were also boosted with almost $5 million allocated to retain 20 internationally-recruited meteorologists and train a further 10, with flood forecaster numbers also boosted.
The country's $36 billion agriculture, fisheries and forestry export industries will be protected with $380 million committed, over seven years, to build a state-of-the-art, post-entry quarantine facility in Melbourne.
Federal Budget Revenue vs Expenditure since 1970-71
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