Government committed to grants despite mining tax shortfall

THE Federal Government remains committed to delivering $650 million in grants under the Regional Development Australia Fund, despite the mining tax raising only $126 million for government coffers.

Among the initiatives meant to be funded by the mining tax was the RDAF, and was touted as a crucial plank in Treasurer Wayne Swan's Spreading the Benefits of the Boom budget in May last year.

The regional infrastructure fund was also a crucial promise to independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor as part of the agreement to form government in 2010.

And despite a shortfall of nearly $1 billion in the first six months of the mining tax revealed last week, the government has emphasised its commitment to the regional infrastructure fund.

Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean said the government was already part way through assessing applications under rounds three and four of the fund, and details of round five would be announced soon.

But after Treasurer Wayne Swan backed away from a budget surplus last year, neither Mr Crean or Mr Swan will reveal where the money will come from for the remaining rounds of the fund.

And while Opposition Regional Australia spokesman Senator Barnaby Joyce has attacked the government over the missing funds, it was revealed the Coalition would not deliver the funds if elected.

Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield told Sky News on Monday that as the Coalition would repeal the mining tax, any measures funded by it would not be supported - which include the regional fund.

Mr Oakeshott has said he has had commitments from the government to complete the promised fund, and as long as the government delivered on its promise, he did not mind where the money came from.

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