Local, Independant and Effective

Community leadership vital for policy initiatives to work

Posted March 24, 2017


Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (10:14): Policy is one of the main things that this government does. I have to say that I am so sad that in this government we do not have regional policy. I am told that we have not had a regional policy since John Anderson was the relevant minister. I have got a little bit of hope that the current minister, Senator Fiona Nash, is promising us something in early April. But it is in terms of policy that I would like to make my comments today, because, in terms of being effective, policy by itself just exists. Without leadership, it cannot be implemented. My comments today are about the role of community based leadership. In particular, if we want to make sure that government policy is effective in rural and regional Australia and delivers its outcomes, we have to work in partnership with our community leaders.

I am delighted to tell the House that yesterday and Monday I welcomed to parliament members of the Alpine Valleys Community Leadership Program. They spent a day learning about how parliament works and how policy works. As part of that process we had a really interesting meeting with the Prime Minister. The group were talking about the community leadership program in Victoria. We have 10 community based leadership programs. They were talking about how they work with government—local, state and federal—to deliver policy. He was quite inspired—I have to say, 'Good on you, Malcolm!'—and he has asked us to go away and do some work on how we might develop a national approach to community based leadership, to work hand in hand with the Commonwealth government.

I want to acknowledge the work of the Alpine Valleys Community Leadership Program and say to Helen, Luke, Sandra, Catherine, Karen, Ben, Will, Alison, Laura, Troy, Katie, the two Nicoles, Richard, Chris, Jacqueline, Tammy, Kim, Ryan, Shane, Tamara and Amy: you heard it from the Prime Minister. You heard his request to work hand in hand with him. I am sending you off with that really clear task now to step up, to become leaders, to stand for election. I am also acknowledging the work of Karly and Kim in making it happen and to you, Kerryn Lee, for being the facilitator of the work.

But it is not enough to come to Canberra. It is not enough to speak with the leaders. What is really important in leadership is to go back to your communities and say to your community, 'I am prepared to stand for election, I am prepared to put some ideas out there, I am prepared to work together and, most importantly, I have a vision for how our community can be a better place.'

My call-out is to the minister in charge of rural and regional Australia. Let's have that vision and, with it, let's have funding for a national program of community based leadership so that right across this magnificent nation we can support community leaders to do their bit in delivering what all of us want: a chance for rural and regional Australia to reach its potential.

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