Random Analytics: RDAF Rd 3 Funding Analysis (Final)

by Shane Granger

On 26 October 2012 the third-round of Regional Development Australia Funding (RDAF) grants were opened to Expressions of Interest and for those that were successful the full applications were to be submitted no-later-than 27 March 2013.

An overview as per the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport website:

Round 3 is providing $50 million for priority infrastructure in towns with a population of 30,000 people or less. Grants of between $50,000 and $500,000 are available to eligible applicants.

Local governments and not-for-profit organisations with an annual income of at least $500,000 (averaged over the most recent two years) were eligible to apply for Regional Development Australia Fund Round Three of the Regional Development Australia Fund. Other organisations were able to participate in the program as a member of a consortium led by an eligible applicant.

The Department announced the successful applicants with a comprehensive list of project financials and details on 24 May 2013.

Here is my analysis.

RDAF Round 3 Funding by State

1 - RDAFRd3FundingbyState_130528

The first infographic is funding by State.

Of the 79 RDAF Round 3 grants 18 are located in NSW, 16 in Queensland, 15 in Victoria, 12-each in South Australia and Western Australia, three in Tasmania, two in the Northern Territory and one in Australian external territory of Norfolk Island.

At 15-projects and $7,175,721 (23.2%) Victoria was the state given the most funding at an average of $478,381.4 per project. The Northern Territory had the least funding of any internal state or territory with two projects and $580,000 (1.9%). South Australia had the lowest grant average with 12-projects and $3,463,498 in funding, or $288,625 per project.

Of the $50-million on offer only $30,895,933 was distributed, a shortfall of 38.2%. Included in this amount Australian external territories (in this case Norfolk Island) also were granted one project worth $411,193 in funding.

Note: This infographic was created using Tableau Public.

RDAF Funding by Population Centre

2 - RDAFRd3FundingbyPopCentre_130528

This chart breaks down the funding by the size of the population centre that it is being deployed in. Population size is based upon Australian Bureau of Statistics Census 2011 data and then allocated to one of into five categories. The categories are:

  • Town: A town or a rural region with a population under 10,000
  • Regional Centre: A small city or rural centre with a population between 10,001 and 30,000
  • City: A city or regional centre with a population between 30,001 and 100,000
  • Large City: A city with a population between 100,001 and 500,000
  • Metropolis: Any city with a significant urban area greater than 500,000.

From the 79-projects and $30,895,933 which was allocated 75.4% went to towns under 10,000, 23% went to regional centres and only one project went to an area that I would consider a city and another was partially linked to a city, although the bulk of the funding went to surrounding towns. Details of the two issues are:

  • The Leopold Community Hub project won by the Greater Geelong City Council, an outlying suburb of Geelong which has a total population of 173,452 should not have been allowed to proceed on the basis that it is not a “located in a town with a population of 30,000 or less” as per the guideline Department criteria;
  • The Skate in the Tropics project won by the Cairns Regional Council included three small regional towns and an outer suburb of Cairns. Mossman, Babinda and Wonga Beach all qualify under the Department criteria; however Gordonvale falls into the significant urban area of Cairns with a population of 133,911.

Round 3 Funding by Political Party

3 - RDAFRd3FundingbyPolParty_130528

This chart looks at funding by political party.

The biggest winner from RDAF Round 3 was not a political party but Treasury which was able to not expend $19.1-million in revenue or 38.2% of the promised funding grants.

Of the RDAF Round 3 grants where funding was allocated 47 went to seats held by the Coalition, 26 went to Labor, there were three for the Independents (two for New England and one for Lyne), two for the Katter’s Australian Party and one to Norfolk Island which is party non-affiliated.

Of the $30,895,933 which was allocated seats held by Labor received $10.156-million (20.3%), the Coalition $18.157-million (36.3%) (split between the Liberal, Liberal National Queensland and National parties) and the minor parties and independents received $2.150-million (4.3%).

Round 3 Funding by 2PP

4 - RDAFRd3FundingbyMarginalSeat_130528

The next chart looks at funding by how safe the seat is (the Australian Electoral Commission states that Divisions with a 2-party preferred (2PP) percentile of 60% or greater are safe, those between 56 – 60% are fairly safe and those between 50 – 56% are marginal. Where a seat is considered marginal (based on 2010 election results) I have split into Labor, Coalition and Independent (to cover the seat of Denison).

From the 79 projects 41 are in seats considered safe, 12 are fairly safe and one was in a non-affiliated external territory.

25 grants are from marginal seats with a total funding allocation of $9.910-million (32.1%). The marginal seats were split 15 to Labor and ten to the Coalition. They include:

  • Blair: One project ($500,000) held by Labor;
  • Capricornia: Two projects ($734,203) held by Labor;
  • Canning: One project ($365,749) held by the Liberals;
  • Casey: One project ($300,000) held by the Liberals;
  • Corangamite: Three projects ($1,480,000) held by Labor;
  • Eden-Monaro: Two projects ($882,250) held by Labor;
  • Flynn: Two projects ($716,693) held by the Liberal National QLD Party;
  • Gilmore: One project ($400,000) held by the Liberals;
  • Herbert: One project ($450,000) currently held by LNQ;
  • La Trobe: One project ($500,000) held by Labor;
  • Leichardt: Two projects ($615,000) held by the LNQ;
  • Lingiari: Four projects ($1,099,870) held by Labor;
  • McEwan: One project ($500,000) held by Labor;
  • McMillan: One project ($490,000) held by the Liberals
  • Page: One project (425,500) held by Labor;
  • Paterson: One project ($450,000) held by the Liberals.

Round 3 Funding by Electorate

5 - RDAFRd3FundingbyElectorate_130528

The second last chart looks at funding by Electorate.

48-electorates won funding as part of the RDAF Round 3.

The most funding awarded to a Coalition held seat is O’Connor (WA), with four projects and $1,555,300 dollars in funding. Given that Tony Crook was elected to Parliament on a National Party ticket but considers himself an independent the next best Coalition seat is Durack (WA) with three projects and $1.5-million in funding.

Corangamite was the highest funded Labor seat with three projects and $1.48-million dollars in funding.

As for the Independents, New England currently has the most funding with two projects worth $500,000 apiece.

Round 3 Funding by Regional Development Australia (RDA) Region

6 - RDAFRd3FundingbyRDA_130528

The final chart looks at funding by RDA Region.

45 out of 50 RDA regions who were able to apply for funding received a project as part of RDAF Round 3. Capital cities, representing six regions were not allowed to apply for funding in this round.

The most funding awarded to a region was shared between Lodden Mallee (VIC) and Barwon South West (VIC) with three projects and $1.5-million dollars in grants, followed closely by the Grampians (VIC) with three projects and $1.48-million in grants.

Final Thoughts

The Regional Development Australia Fund Round 3 was setup to allocate much needed funds to genuinely regional centres and to respond to criticisms of previous rounds where funding had gone to cities over regional centres and dominated coastal regions over the interior.

The positives out of this round is that the funds have been equitably distributed on many of the normal indicators and where there is a higher ratio, they are within acceptable margins and should be an expectation of incumbency.

Although I hesitate to make a criticism, I feel obligated given the funding shortfall of nearly $20-million dollars which has not been widely publicized, nor adequately explained by the Department or by the relevant Ministers. That amount of funding would have supported another 40 plus projects in the bush and regions.

I’m empathetic of the Federal treasuries structural budget issues but the RDAF funding rounds were a $1-billion dollar programme designed to support one-off projects and tens of thousands of jobs in some of Australia’s most regional and economically disadvantaged areas.

It is ironic that on the same day as the RDAF Round 3 funding was publicized Ford announced that it would stop building cars in Australia. This announcement was soon followed with an immediate pledge of $39-million by the Federal & Victorian governments to support the 1200 employees of Ford, a company which has received more than $1.1-billion in tax-funded support over the past 12-years.


Declaration of Interest: I have utilised only publically sourced information and all analysis and views expressed are my own and do not reflect that of any employer or organisation that I am associated with.

Note: My previous post on RDAF Round 1 & 2 funding can be found at Random Analytics: RDAF Funding Analysis



Updates (16/06/2013)

  • The RDAF Round 3 analysis was returned to the Random Analytics site at the commencement of RDAF Round 4 announcements.