Office for Regional Australia is required
Independent Member for Indi Ms Cathy McGowan says an Office for Regional Australia would supercharge the regional policy landscape, putting regional development front and centre in the work of Government.
In tabling her Private Member’s Bill in Parliament today, Ms McGowan called on the Government to step up and establish this official office after significant failures in regional policy over many years.
Ms McGowan said she was ‘disappointed and absolutely underwhelmed’ by the Liberal and National Parties’ lack of focus on regional Australia.
“It has taken the voice of Independents, myself and Rebecca Sharkie, to shed light on the Government’s inaction on the need for a co-ordinated and planned approach to regional development,” she said.
“The Government’s response to the Regions at the Ready report, tabled last week, demonstrates a vacuum in Government policy in this area. This Office for Regional Australia would fill that void and provide the co-ordination of regional policy initiatives for Australia. It’s not rocket science.”
“This Bill puts into practice the principles and recommendations in the Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation Regions at the Ready report.
“It calls for real action with the creation of an Office for Regional Australia that will conduct inquiries, research and report on matters impacting regional Australia, regional development and decentralisation. The office will collaborate across governments and jurisdictions.
“It will support the development of regional deals and strategic plans. It will act as an important filter for the likely impacts of Government initiatives.”
Ms McGowan said the Office would:
- Provide a strategic oversight and co-ordination of regional policy initiatives for Australia.
- Report annually to the Minister on the impacts of budget initiatives and recommendations to achieve policy outcomes in regional areas.
- Provide advice to the Minister on regional deals and regional planning.
- Require the Minister to table a statement embodying the Government’s policy for regional Australia, developed through a formal white paper process.
- Base the content of this statement on Recommendation 12 in the Regions at the Ready Report. It would require a public consultation period.
- Provide oversight of the Office by a Parliamentary Joint Committee.
“We can’t force the government to do a good job for regional Australia, but we can put in place checks and balances to make sure they are accountable and respond to the realities of living in a regional community,” Ms McGowan said.
To see Cathy’s speech -