Photo Caption: Member for Parkes Mark Coulton with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, marking the completion of the Parkes to Narromine section of Inland Rail.
Inland Rail full steam ahead
What a great pleasure to be part of the history made at Peak Hill last week with my Federal colleague and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, with the final golden clip hammered into place to signify the completion of the first section of Inland Rail – Parkes to Narromine.
This is real progress on a project which has been talked about since federation. Already our Government has delivered more than 1,800 jobs and $100 million in local stimulus through Inland Rail. This milestone demonstrates Inland Rail is happening and will become a vital part of the network required to meet Australia’s growing freight transport task for the next 50 years.
The future of an efficient rail freight network is achievable, and will enable effective supply chains, national productivity and competitiveness for our nation.
New Regional Digital Tech Hub
It was terrific to join National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) CEO Tony Maher during the week in my role as Regional Communications Minister to announce the NFF will deliver a Regional Digital Tech Hub. This hub will support people in regional Australia to find the right telecommunications for their homes and businesses.
People will be able to access support over the phone, through social media and online, to help solve issues with their phone and internet services, find the latest applications for their homes or businesses, and understand their rights as consumers and where to go to escalate faults.
Thank you to Better Internet For Rural, Regional And Remote Australia volunteers who have, for more than six years, provided volunteer troubleshooting and connectivity support for rural, regional and remote Australians.
Boosting our fuel security
The Coalition Government is acting to secure Australia’s long-term fuel supply, keep prices low for consumers and create over 1000 new jobs through a new domestic fuel security package.
As part of our 2020-21 Budget, the Government will deliver a $211 million investment in new domestic diesel storage facilities, reforms to create a minimum onshore stockholding, and measures to support local refineries.
This will be delivered with three key elements:
• Investing $200 million in a competitive grants program to build an additional 780ML of onshore diesel storage, supporting up to 950 jobs, along with 75 new ongoing jobs, many in regional areas;
• Creating a minimum stockholding obligation for key transport fuels; and
• Backing the refining sector by entering into a detailed market design process for a refinery production payment.
Our positive changes to the fuel market will ensure Australian families and businesses can access the fuel they need, when they need it, for the lowest possible price.
Interest free drought loans
Farmers and farm-related small businesses have up to 30 September to take advantage of two-year interest free loans from the Regional Investment Corporation (RIC) in order to qualify for the interest free period, before the drought-related loan terms change.
These loans assist farmers to refinance existing debt, fund activities such as replanting and restocking and operating expenses.
For Drought and AgBiz Drought loan applications made from 1 October onwards, the terms will revert to five years’ interest only and five years’ principal and interest.
The variable interest rate for Drought and AgBiz Drought Loans has dropped to 1.92 per cent effective 1 August 2020 – the variable interest rate for farming loans is at a record low for the RIC.