PM called to show commitment to regions with a white paper from Task Force
Posted March 24, 2017
Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (14:18): My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, last week you announced the Regional Australia Ministerial Taskforce. This is a welcome innovation and I look forward to a coherent regional policy that ensures that we have the right policies delivered for all Australians. But, as we have discussed, the opportunities for rural and regional Australia are many and the needs are great, and there is strong interest in regional Australia in the terms of reference for the task force, time lines, budgets, community engagement processes and the relationship between the task force and the budget process. Prime Minister, will you commit to delivering a full white paper process that sets out a vision for regional Australia with strategies that enable us to reach our full potential?
Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth—Prime Minister) (14:19): I thank the honourable member for her question. She is right: we have often discussed the priorities in regional Australia. And we thank her for her suggestions and her very deep experience and expertise in the field of regional development over many years, long before she came into parliament.
It is vitally important that economic opportunity and security is enjoyed by every part of Australia. And it is vitally important that the economic growth and the jobs we are delivering are enjoyed right across Australia. That is why we have set up the task force. It is a key priority of my government to ensure that every part of Australia benefits from the economic growth we are seeing. We know that some regions are doing it extremely well—are prospering and are seeing strong growth. Others are not doing so well, very often because of the transition from the mining construction boom to more diversified growth. It is a complex mesh of opportunities and challenges, as the honourable member knows very well. So we are focusing on that issue. We recognise across the board that we need to provide support, and I will give some examples.
Our $30 million grant to the Portland aluminium smelter, for example, secured the jobs of 700 workers along with the 2,000 people in the region whose livelihoods depend on it. As honourable members know, we provided a $49 million loan to Arrium to ensure and support the continuance of the steelmaking operations there in Whyalla. We have brought forward the upgrade of 1,200 kilometres of rail line between Adelaide and Tarcoola using steel from Arrium. And our regional jobs and investment package is helping regions to diversify their economies and grow sustainable employment, including $20 million in the Goulburn Valley. We have a $50 billion infrastructure program, including record commitments to the Bruce and Pacific highways. We are committed to the inland rail. We have also committed towards $10 million in the honourable member's electorate for road upgrades. And, as the honourable member is well aware, her electorate has done very well in terms of mobile phone black spots and, indeed, the rollout of the NBN.
But she is not alone. Right across Australia, we are investing in telecommunications infrastructure to ensure that the tyranny of distance is overcome.
The SPEAKER: The member for Indi on a point of order?
The SPEAKER: What is the point of order?
The SPEAKER: The member for Indi will resume her seat. The difficulty with 30-second questions, let alone 45-second questions, is: there was a lot of ground covered. The Prime Minister is in order. He has concluded his answer.
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