A BILLION-dollar Recharging Our Regions package designed to create regional jobs and drive regional investment has been announced by state Opposition leader Steven Marshall.
The package will endeavour to reduce the cost of living, invest in infrastructure and restore regional health, education and other front line services across the state.
“For 16 long years this city-centric Weatherill Labor government has neglected our regions and we’ve seen a decline in some regional populations as our young people continue to leave in drove because of the lack of opportunities,” Mr Marshall said.
Mr Marshall said the Liberals had a number of policies to ease the cost of living pressures, such as capping council rates and NRM levy increases.
“We will also put $360 million back into the community by restoring the Emergency Services Levy remission and our Liberal Energy Solution will deliver lower electricity bills for households and residents.”
Mr Marshall has spent this week selling the package to residents in the South East and will make his way to the Riverland to detail the policy.
Part of the policy includes setting aside $150 million for a Regional Growth Fund, which aims to support job creation and boost regional investment. The package will be rolled out at $15 million a year for 10 years.
Mr Marshall said the fund could support job creations across a broad range of regional industries, from primary industries to tourism and advanced food manufacturing.
“We want to support projects that will deliver long-term and sustainable jobs so that there is a lasting benefit in regional communities, and we can grow our regional population,” he said.
He said regional communities from the West Coast through to the SE would benefit from the fund, but did not pinpoint any specific towns.
“We want to help businesses expand so they can create more regional jobs and grow our regional economies, as well as help get local projects off the ground,” Mr Marshall said.
But Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis has criticised the Liberals’ announcement, saying it is “nothing new”.
“All the Liberals have announced is that they will match what Labor is already doing,” he said.
“The state government already invests $15m each year through the Regional Development Fund, so what the Liberals have announced is nothing new.”
Mr Koutsantonis said the Liberals’ policy effectively placed a cap on regional development funding, meaning it could not be increased to account for inflation.