Independent Member for Indi Cathy McGowan has challenged the government to reveal the impact of budgets on rural and regional Australia.
Ms McGowan introduced a Private Members Bill into the parliament in October to this effect and is calling on the Prime Minister to agree to debate and pass the legislation as a matter of urgency.
The Charter of Budget Honesty Amendment (Regional Australia Statements) Bill 2016 calls for detailed regional impact statements to be included in each Budget and Mid-year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO).
“Government policy often has a disproportionate impact in the country due to distance, lack of public transport and lack of access to mobile phone and internet coverage,” Ms McGowan said.
“What the people in Indi are saying to me is that they expect the government to consider their needs when they are making decisions. Regional impact statements demonstrate that this has been done.
“There are too many instances of government making decisions without fully considering their impact on rural and regional communities. Examples are the design of the dairy assistance scheme, childcare reform proposals and the backpacker tax. Too often the onus is then on the community to fight to fix the problem after the fact. By that stage the harm is already done.
“The debate and adoption of this Bill would be a first step. Beyond this the government needs to develop a national plan for rural and regional Australia.”
With Parliament due to resume in early February, Ms McGowan has written to the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stressing the importance of this legislation.
Ms McGowan is also writing to other federal members of Parliament.
“Getting the needs of rural and regional Australians recognised in Parliament will be one of my highest priorities this year,” she said.
“It should also be the highest priority for a government in coalition with the National Party. This is an opportunity for the government to demonstrate that it governs for all Australians.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues in Parliament to deliver this important reform.”