The Nationals in Government are spending big to help agricultural show societies and regional communities recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Federal Nationals in Government are spending $36 million to help support show societies hit by social distancing restrictions, while the NSW Nationals in Government have allocated a further $10.77 million to its showground stimulus program – bringing the total to $35.77 million across the State.

State focus

NSW Nationals Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said it was important to support our iconic local shows and showgrounds.

“The showground stimulus program is generating economic activity in local economies impacted by COVID-19 while supporting the long-term sustainability of showgrounds right across NSW,” Mrs Pavey said.

“Showgrounds are community hubs and multi-use facilities and these projects will improve safety and enhance community enjoyment by providing upgraded facilities to support a range of uses.”

The NSW Nationals in Government have allocated $23.27 million this financial year to support showground upgrades and a further $12.5 million will be spent next financial year.

NSW Nationals MLC Wes Fang announced $1,065,023 in improvement works would be spent on six local showgrounds in the Riverina.

Mr Fang said Deniliquin, Barham, Hillston, Moama, Wakool and Griffith showgrounds had been approved for upgrades to improve the safety, use and condition of their infrastructure and support jobs in the local economy.

“Our showgrounds play an important role at the heart of our communities so I welcome this further investment,” Mr Fang said.

“This further investment by the NSW Nationals in Government will provide a boost for our local showgrounds and the community by supporting trade work and strengthening showground infrastructure for the future.

“It follows the announcement last month of $649,114 in improvement works for Deniliquin, Barham, Hillston, Moama, Hay, Wakool, Finley and Berrigan showgrounds.”

Federal focus

Nationals Member for Parkes Mark Coulton said he was thrilled that the Australian Government was offering up to $70,000 under the Supporting Agricultural Shows program to to help eligible local shows deal with cash flow pressures.

“This is fantastic news for the many hardworking show society volunteers we have in the regions, who because of COVID-19, were unable to stage a show for their communities this year,” Mr Coulton said.

“Not only are these show societies dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they have also been contending with the devastating drought, making it especially difficult for them.

“The Federal Nationals in Government are reimbursing shows for costs incurred in 2020 and funds will be paid in 2021. I urge show societies to check their eligibility and apply when the grants open.”

Mr Coulton said the funding acknowledges the role country shows play in connecting agriculture and regional Australia to our metropolitan counterparts, and helping locals to stay in touch with their community.

“Ag shows form part of the social fabric of country communities. For many who attend, it’s one of very few occasions they can catch up with their peers, making shows important for the mental health of attendees,” he said.

“Funding is also being provided to support the cancelled agricultural shows in our capital cities meet sunk costs – this is great news for exhibitors who showcase their produce and livestock to a wider audience at Royal Shows.”

The Supporting Agricultural Shows program will also provide $100,000 to Agricultural Shows Australia (ASA) for its National Rural Ambassador competition in 2020 and 2021.

This funding complements the Australian Government’s existing $20 million Regional Agricultural Show Development Grants Program and will be provided under the $1 billion Relief and Recovery Fund, which is supporting regions, communities and industry sectors that have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus crisis.