Local, Independant and Effective

Hansard Transcript, June 5, Adjournment Debate - Regional Living

Posted June 05, 2014


CATHY McGOWAN (Indi) (12:29):  I rise today to reflect on this week in parliament. As MP for Indi, my focus has been on regional living—what communities in regional Australia need to have good and productive lives in the places they choose to live. I have brought the views of my constituents to this place using the information collected from 726 constituents during the Indi budget impact tour.


I have spoken about the importance of Landcare, and I have spoken about telecommunications and the importance of mobile phone coverage for regional people. I have asked the Minister for Communications that his plans to further combat this issue of mobile phone black spots. I have spoken about the National Rural Women's Coalition e-Leaders Program as a great example of innovation in rural community leadership.

I have spoken about how Indi young people are responding to mental illness in regional communities. And today I have spoken about Bruck Textiles and the devastating impact that changes to the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Investment and Innovation Programs Act 1999 will have on this great business manufacturing in Wangaratta.

As you can tell, I am proud of regional Australia, especially the communities I represent, such as Wodonga, Wangaratta, Benalla, Yea, Mansfield, Kinglake, Mount Beauty, Beechworth and Rutherglen. I am proud of the people who live there, the ideas they have for their communities, and the actions they take to implement these ideas.

While acknowledging that the government has a clear mandate to manage the economy—and I will support them when I am sure there will be benefits for the people of Indi—there is one element of the budget that gives me great concern. It is the absence of a rural and regional ministerial statement for the 2014-16 budget. To my knowledge, every budget since 1996-97, with the exception of 2006-07, had a rural and regional ministerial statement which outlined the impact of the budget on rural and regional Australia.

Without this statement in the budget people who live in Corryong, Eldorado, Alexandra, Marysville, for instance, cannot be sure—in fact, are worried—that they have not been taken into account in the creation of the budget. The discipline of doing these statements means that every department has had to look at the budget measures and do the work, often the hard work, of understanding how their policies will impact on regional Australia.

I believe that uncosted interventions and the unintended consequences of some measures of the budget will have significant long-term impacts on rural and regional Australia and in the end it will cost us more money.

Mr Deputy Speaker Bruce Scott, I ask you and members of the coalition opposite if you could help me with this—that is, to ensure that the next two budgets that the government brings down have both a statement on rural and regional Australia and a statement on the impact on women.

In previous years we have had a statement on the impact on women, but I note it was not included this year. I believe that the government needs a long-term plan for rural and regional Australia. I believe the government is committed to looking after us, but it needs to involve and talk to the communities and the stakeholders who best understand how we work.

In closing, I am very proud of regional Australia. It is a place that is full of fantastic people who need excellent representation in this place. I will support those elements of the budget, and I will support the appropriations bills, because I believe the government has a mandate to reform the economy.

However, I will be working very hard over the next two years to ensure that regional Australia gets a better deal. I have started the process of consulting with members of the community in Indi, my community, and communicating their views to many of the members, senators and members of the crossbench, particularly in the other place. All groups, particularly the government ministers, have shown great willingness to work together with me on these issues. I believe that many people in this parliament know what needs to be done in regional Australia, and I am optimistic that the much needed planning and reforms for regional Australia will come to fruition.

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