Budget shows no empathy for the bush: Littleproud

The federal budget has failed Australians living in rural communities, Nationals leader David Littleproud has declared, calling it a targeted assault on the regions.

Following the Albanese government's third budget, handed down on Tuesday night, Mr Littleproud said there were few new investments outside the major cities.

"It's clear that these are the practices and decisions of a government that is blinded by an ideology, which has no empathy, no understanding and no recognition of the practical realities of living in regional Australia," he told parliament on Wednesday.

"What we've seen in the 24 months since the Albanese government was elected is an unprecedented and targeted assault on the regions."

The nation's regional think tank was far more optimistic, describing the $1.7 billion Future Made in Australia Innovation Fund as a "huge" boost for communities moving away from fossil fuel economies.

The 10-year program will drive early-stage projects in renewable hydrogen, clean energy technology and manufacturing.

Regional Australia Institute chief executive Liz Ritchie said the budget's jobs and skills packages, changes to the Child Care Subsidy and paid placements for students in key industries underpinned the plan.

“Place-based, well-paid, sustainable jobs for regional Australians are a starting point for the social licence to operate these industries of the future," Ms Ritchie said.

Mr Littleproud also took aim at the government's decision to phase out live sheep exports by 2028, pledging the coalition would restore the industry should it win the next election.

The MV Bahijah is seen in the Port of Fremantle in Perth
Mr Littleproud pledged to restore live sheep exports if the coalition is elected.

"It's inexcusable that we have just witnessed the Australian government throw more than $100 million in money to shut down a lawful, profitable and sustainable animal production industry," Mr Littleproud said.

"Ruining innocent livelihoods in this process is not the Australian way."

Rural health care received only a modest lifeline in the budget, with incremental boosts or continuations of previously announced measures.

A $116 million rural health workforce program from 2023 will include extending a trial of the popular Single Employer Model.

The model gives doctors better pay and leave entitlements when working across rural clinics and hospitals.

Regional Development Minister Kristy McBain said the workforce package would increase the number of rural GPs.

"Regional communities are screaming out for doctors, which is why we're incentivising doctors to train and work outside of our big cities," she told parliament.

"We want more people to study in their own backyard and to continue working in their local community."

Ms McBain also said regional communities would spearhead many of the projects included in the government's $22.7 billion Future Made in Australia plan, which will support clean energy industries.

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