Liberal & Nationals Government backs Regional Australia
13 February 2019
The Liberal & Nationals Government has reinforced its absolute commitment to growing rural and regional Australia through a strong regionalisation agenda and an ongoing drive to deliver much-needed infrastructure to the regions.
Responding to the Regions at the Ready: Investing in Australia’s Future report, Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation, Senator Bridget McKenzie, said the Government had carefully considered its 13 recommendations aimed at driving the economic development of regional communities.
“Australia’s regions generate more than 30 per cent of our annual GDP and that’s why the Liberal & Nationals Government continues to back our regional communities every day,” Minister McKenzie said.
“Our regional communities are vibrant and incredibly diverse, and we are committed to supporting them to be safe, prosperous and sustainable over the long term.
“The report is the result of a 12-month inquiry by a select committee into best-practice approaches to regional development, and the Government strongly endorses the committee’s recognition of the benefits of relocating Commonwealth entities closer to the communities they serve.
“Since the Decentralisation Agenda was formally launched in April 2017, 239 jobs have been announced for relocation outside Canberra, inner Sydney and inner Melbourne. This includes regional jobs at the Australian Maritime Safety Organisation, Australian Space Agency and Aboriginal Hostels Limited—taking the number of Australian Government jobs moved to the regions to more than 1200 since 2013.
“The Liberal & Nationals Government will continue to look for opportunities to decentralise public sector jobs to our regional communities—creating new employment opportunities, promoting economic diversification and stimulating regional growth.
“We are already delivering a number of pilot Regional Deals, including in the Northern Territory’s Barkly region and Queensland’s Hinkler region, which involve all three tiers of government creating a long-term strategic approach to developing regional Australia.
“In further support of this agenda, we will establish an expert panel to undertake a targeted assessment of the key issues identified by the House of Representatives Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation. The panel will be asked to develop a blueprint to guide the Government’s policy response to the issues highlighted by the committee.”
Minister McKenzie said the report also highlighted the importance of investing in enabling infrastructure to improve connectivity, key services and amenity across regional Australia.
“In the 2018-19 Budget alone, the Liberal & Nationals Government committed to funding more than 100 new regional programs that create jobs, support economic growth and improve access to essential health, education and communications services,” Minister McKenzie said.
“For example, our $550 million Stronger Rural Health Strategy will improve access to health services in the regions by delivering around 3,000 additional specialist GPs for rural Australia, over 3,000 additional nurses in rural general practice and hundreds of additional allied health professionals in rural Australia over 10 years.
“Through the Government’s Regional, Rural and Remote Education Strategy we continue to back our regional universities and create further opportunities for students in the regions to meet the skills, research and development needs of industry.
“And we understand the importance of digital connectivity by investing $220 million in the Mobile Blackspot Program that has delivered 671 operational base stations so far, driving a new spirit of small business investment in the regions and improving the safety of local residents in times of natural disasters.
“I thank the committee’s chair, the Member for Murray, Damian Drum, and his colleagues for their thorough and considered report, which will help inform the Government’s support for strategic regional development, including through decentralisation, for many years to come.”
To read the Government’s full response to the Regions at the Ready: Investing in Australia’s Future report, please visit: infrastructure.gov.au/regions-at-the-ready-response.