Future Drought Fund passes Parliament
I’m thrilled that the Future Drought Fund legislation passed through the Senate last week, meaning a new centrepiece for Australian drought, and a guaranteed investment of $100 million a year towards drought preparedness. I’m proud that this Government delivers for our farmers and rural and regional Australia.
Investments from the Fund will happen each year, starting next July. This could include funding for climate adaptation, extension work, or region-wide projects such as pest and weed control. All of these projects will offer value and growth potential for agricultural industries in my electorate.
Farmers and businesses in my electorate know how hard this drought has been. The Prime Minister has visited the Dubbo region in particular, twice within three months, with drought at the top of the agenda on both occasions. Protecting the viability of our regions impacted by drought is a priority for this Government.
We promised to do this to support our farmers for future droughts as well as this one, and we’ve delivered. The $5 billion Future Drought Fund means $100 million every year will be invested in drought resilience and preparedness. This is on top of the $1.9 billion we’ve already invested in the Farm Household Allowance, Rural Financial Counselling, mental health funding, low interest loans and more.
I am advised that a consultative committee will soon be formed to decide how the $100 million will be invested, as per the legislation. Key to this initiative will be consultation with the people we’re elected to serve, on how this investment should be spent.
Money on offer for schools
Up to $200,000 is available for schools in my electorate to fund projects that benefit students and the school community, under the Coalition Government’s $30.2 million Local Schools Community Fund.
I hope every school leader in my electorate takes this fantastic opportunity to throw their hat in the ring for funding on behalf of their school. We’ve seen some outstanding projects roll out in recent years – whether it may be upgraded learning areas, or new sporting facilities, our Government continues to back school projects large and small.
All schools in my electorate will be eligible to apply for funding ranging in value from $1,000 to $20,000, with the money going towards a school project that makes a real difference.
Projects will be assessed on the benefit they would bring to the school community. This might be small-scale extensions or classroom refurbishments, new computers, mental health and counselling services, playground equipment, library resources, or sports facilities.
School leaders know what is best for their schools, and I’m encouraging those of you to head to SchoolsHUB to lodge your application: https://schools.education.gov.au
It’s important to remember that schools can actually lodge one application for each of their campuses, and that projects must be completed by the end of 2020. Applications close 30 September 2019. For more information, visit www.education.gov.au/local-schools-community-fund
More apprenticeships for businesses
Employers and the new apprentices they hire, in ten national skills shortage occupations, may be eligible for the Additional Identified Skills Shortage (AISS) Payment.
The AISS is a key initiative from the 2019 Budget and will help create and support up to 80,000 new apprenticeships over five years. It will deliver up to $4,000 in support to eligible employers and $2,000 to new apprentices.
As our economy grows and changes, our skills system needs to evolve as well. This new incentive targets occupations with critical skills shortages, including carpenters and joiners, plumbers, hairdressers, bakers, tilers and more. The full eligibility requirements and a list of occupations can be accessed through Australian Apprenticeship Support Network providers.
Initiatives like the AISS ensure Australians can develop the skills they need to succeed in a changing workplace, and provide industry with a pipeline of qualified workers needed to keep our economy strong.