The Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s regional headquarters in Coffs Harbour has officially opened as part of The Nationals’ commitment to decentralisation.

It will deliver improved access to services for the maritime sector and more jobs for the major regional centre.

Deputy Prime Minister, Leader of The Nationals and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the new regional HQ would provide a more convenient point of contact for the commercial vessel industry in the northern New South Wales region.

“This builds on our decentralisation agenda with commercial vessel operators and seafarers from Northern NSW no longer needing to travel to Newcastle to get face-to-face help from the National Regulator,” Mr McCormack said. “It makes perfect sense for our national maritime safety agency to expand its footprint into regional areas such as Coffs Harbour, bringing increased access to services and improving the local economy.”

“Regional centres are a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family and I’d like to see more people moving out of the capital cities and explore what communities such as those here on the Mid-North Coast have to offer.”

Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government Mark Coulton said a larger public service presence in areas such as Coffs Harbour brings Government closer to the people it serves.

“In my new role as the Minister responsible for decentralisation, I’m focused on enhancing the reputation of our regions as viable places to do business, both private and government sectors,” Mr Coulton said. “When additional regional jobs are created, it’s about finding the right fit to ensure those jobs connect well with the area, and that certainly is the case with AMSA in Coffs Harbour.”

Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan said seven staff had already relocated to work in Coffs Harbour and recruitment was underway for a further 20 employees in the coming months.

“I understand there have been plenty of AMSA staff from Canberra putting their hands up to move to beautiful Coffs Harbour,” Mr Conaghan said. “My wife Ilona and I can certainly attest to the quality of family life possible in regional Australia, particularly living on the North Coast of NSW and I can recommend the move to those working in maritime safety and regulation in our national capital.”

The opening of the regional headquarters is just one part of AMSA’s plan to have 50 per cent of its workforce based outside of Canberra by 2022. The Nationals’ decentralisation program is another valuable driver of jobs in regional Australia.