Local, Independant and Effective

Prime Minister agrees to look at Bill to take rural and regional into account

Posted December 02, 2016


Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (14:16): My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, this morning in this place I introduced a private member's bill, the Charter of Budget Honesty Amendment (Regional Australia Statements) Bill 2016, and this bill calls on the government to release with each budget or MYEFO regional Australia statements that outline the impact of fiscal policy on those of us who live outside the city. My question, Mr Prime Minister, is: can you give the assurance to the House that this bill will be brought on for consideration and, to demonstrate to those of us who live in rural and regional Australia, that our issues are taken account of by the government in preparation of its fiscal policy?

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:16): I thank the honourable member for her question and I acknowledge her and my colleagues' very keen interest in regional Australia and the impact of budget measures on it. I note for all honourable members' benefit that in every budget there is a statement, and I have in my hand the one from the last budget, Investing in Regional Growth. It is a statement which is presented by the Minister for Regional Development, Senator the Honourable Fiona Nash, and it sets out the key Australian government initiatives in regional Australia by each portfolio. I think this statement would largely meet the matters raised by the honourable member. But I can say to her that we will nonetheless closely look at the amendment she is proposing to see how we can continue to strengthen our support for and understanding of regional Australia in all of our government's decisions. It is an absolutely key focus of the government. Most of the regional Australian seats, as the honourable member knows, are represented by members of the coalition—

Mr TURNBULL: so it is always clearly in our thoughts. I want to remind honourable members that six of my cabinet colleagues are from rural and regional Australia. They provide a very strong voice on all government policy in the cabinet. We are backing regions through a $297 million Building Better Regions Fund. We are supporting regions to drive sustainable growth and employment through our $220 million Regional Jobs and Investment Packages, including $20 million for the Goulburn Valley—a particular interest to the honourable member. We are committed, as the honourable member knows, to a $10 million road upgrade package for her electorate of Indi. We are rolling out 30 new or upgraded mobile base stations in Indi under the Mobile Black Spots Program. I might say, on the matter of the NBN—an issue the honourable member is very enthusiastic about—there are 7,382 active NBN services in Indi and over 34,000 premises are able to order an NBN connection if they wish, including of course access to the Sky Muster satellite. The honourable member and the coalition will no doubt have differences at election time, but we are absolutely united in our commitment to regional Australia and our determination to ensure that the budget and every element of our policy delivers for regional Australians. We will have a very close look at her bill and I thank her for raising it.

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