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The Building Better Regions Fund

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

The Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) was a program of the former-Coalition government which was introduced in 2017 and discontinued in 2022. The fund was intended to support regional areas by funding infrastructure projects and community development initiatives.

The title cover of the Building Better Regions Fund Round 6 featuring the Australian Government logo and a photo of a rural windmill. The text "Regional Grants" is foregrounded.

The fund was criticised in the media and labelled as a form of "pork-barelling" by the Labor party for seemingly favouring coalition seats. In 2021, as part of the fifth round of grants totalling $218 million, the Australian National Audit Office found that nearly 73% of available funding was directed to Coalition seats. Despite Labor holding 34% of eligible seats, the allocation of funding to these seats totalled only 16%.

According to the grant guidelines, eligible projects needed to score 60% or higher across a variety of criteria including the potential social and economic benefits to a region, impact of government funding and the applicant's capability to deliver on the project. Following this process, the grants were then to be decided upon by a ministerial panel chaired by then-Infrastructure Minister, Barnaby Joyce.

In response to the findings of the 5th round of funding and Labor's criticisms, Mr. Joyce said "I don't care." Then-Shadow Infrastructure Minister, Catherine King, stated that this was "just the latest in a long line of rorts from the Morrison-Joyce government.":

“The numbers don’t lie, Barnaby Joyce and his ministerial panel clearly prioritised their own seats over worthy projects in other parts of the country.”

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