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Julia Gillard announces $10b windfall for the bush

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Prime Minister Julia Gillard will implement a $9.9 billion additional regional Australia package. She announced the plan in her first press conference after rural independents, Rob Oakshot and Tony Windsor confirmed their support for the Labor Party.

The plan will see the next rounds of health and education funding commitments fast-tracked and delivered exclusively to rural areas and ensure a priority is given to regional areas in the National Broadband Network (NBN) roll-out.

According to the plan: "regional Australia will receive better services, infrastructure and experience better economic development opportunities through the new Government’s up to an additional $10 billion investment."

Regarding the NBN, the Government has offered to ensure uniform wholesale prices across the country. In other words, country people will pay the same for broadband services as those living in cities.

In addition, the Government says it will provide a one-third guarantee in new regional investments which aim to improve rural education and health services.

"I will work tirelessly to do what we said we would do, and that is of course to forge a new paradigm of modern government in this country; to deliver for regional Australia, recognising that in our nation one size does not fit all; to redeem the hope you have placed in me and Labor; and to be faithful to the trust that has been extended to us," Gillard said.

"Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor came and they asked us for fairness for regional Australia and we were happy to work through with them to achieve that fairness…

"We will make sure that regional Australia gets its fair share of our upgrade of primary care facilities from which doctors work; of our critical skills investment fund; of our new reward payments for schools and our new funding for local school control.

"We will also ensure that the National Broadband Network offers the benefit of uniform wholesale prices to end the difficulties with telecommunications and difference in price for regional Australia, and we will ensure that priority is given to regional Australia as the NBN is built."

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