The future of Australia is in the Country
As we prepare for the upcoming Federal Budget, rebuilding the affected regional communities – and strengthening regional communities generally – will be a priority.
Increasingly across Australia there is a growing understanding and appreciation that regional Australia remains the strength behind our nation’s economy. In the first quarter of this year, Australia’s National Account figures were released. They showed that the industries of regional Australia continue to drive the nation’s economic growth: agricultural production and the resources sector.
One reason for this is simple: Regional New South Wales has strategically positioned itself to be a major beneficiary of the significant trade agreements being meticulously drafted and entered into by the Coalition Government.
They are delivering real, tangible and measurable achievements – for the jobs and industries of regional Australia, all delivered by the Nationals and Liberals in Government.
Over this term, you will also see The Nationals lead the push for greater decentralisation: creating the infrastructure to attract the investment, the jobs and the families to regional Australia.
In the Federal Parliament, Nationals ministers hold the keys to the portfolios that will drive a decentralisation agenda whether that be my own portfolio of Agriculture and Water; the Regional Development and Local Government portfolio held by Deputy Leader, Fiona Nash; Infrastructure; Roads; Resources; Small Business… all driven by Nationals Ministers.
In contrast, Bill Shorten and Labor have vowed to unwind decentralisation. They’ve even started a Senate Inquiry to block it, an Inquiry that they won’t even hold meetings for in regional New South Wales.
Of the 85 councils and 28 regional development associations that made submissions to the inquiry, not one was invited to the Canberra hearing. Even Bendigo, Ballarat, Cessnock and Lake Macquarie councils put in submissions supporting decentralisation but have not been backed by their local members.
Meanwhile, the town of Armidale, which is at the centre of this debate, has been refused a hearing to present the community’s case on the benefits of moving government jobs to regional areas.
On top of this, local councils and business and jobs representatives have been told they will need to go to Townsville – some 2,470kms away and a full day of flying – if they are invited to make a presentation.
Furthermore, Bill Shorten (who has already vowed to cut water investment in the regions) is vowing to stop decentralisation.
We know that every dollar spent in country small businesses helps to create more jobs, higher wages and better confidence in regional Australia.
That is why The Nationals are the only Party to be the true advocates for regional and rural communities and the sharing of public sector jobs, which will deliver long-term dividends to regional towns.