Local, Independant and Effective

QT - RIRDC relocation and decentralisation

Posted May 27, 2015

 

CATHY McGOWAN (Indi) (14:20): My question is to the Minister for Agriculture. Minister, I am so pleased to see the commitment by the government to decentralisation—in particular, the decision to relocate three regional development corporations. Can you please outline why decentralisation is important to Australia, and particularly the benefits that will flow to my creative, innovative and totally flexible electorate through the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation coming to Albury-Wodonga?

Mr BARNABY JOYCE (New England—Minister for Agriculture) (14:20): I thank the honourable member for her question
and note that the Victorian RIRDC's woman of the year, Julie Aldous, was from Mansfield. It stands to reason that if one were to suggest that we move the cotton RDC from Narrabri back to Canberra then that would be an absurdity.

It probably is part of the result of the cotton RDC being in Narrabri that Australia has the highest yields in cotton in the world. And I note some of the issues that have been brought forward by the Labor Party about relocations, where they say it is outrageous. The actual total costs of all the relocations is less than that of the security refurbishment of Parliament House. It gives you a sense of what we want to do on this side, because this side of the parliament believes in decentralisation. This side of the parliament believes that we can create centres of excellence. This side of the parliament believes that we have a vision for the future, a plan for the future, and that we want to make sure that the largesse of government does not reside just in Canberra but in other places as well.

I also note that a discussion is happening in Canberra right now—it is a great city and will continue to be a great city—about a light rail that will cost in excess of $700 million. The reason they give is congestion. The way to deal with congestion is, obviously, to start looking at alternatives. It is not just this side of the parliament that believes in moving. I have been reading the state Labor Party manifesto of Western Australia, which believes in decentralisation, which believes in moving to Bunbury, which believes in moving to Albany, but of course that view is not held on the other side of the parliament.

What we want to do is make sure that we go about the process of giving tertiary students and university students a line of sight to a career in agriculture so that we can duplicate the great success that we have had in places such as Narrabri and other towns. Might I also remind people on the other side that, although they might not support relocations, their state system—

CATHY McGowan: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order about the relevance of the answer to the question,
but I think he has finished now.

The SPEAKER: I think not. I think the minister has the call.

Mr JOYCE: No, I am not. I think it is very important that we understand that it is Labor Party policy to relocate
—here it is—

The SPEAKER: No props.

Mr JOYCE: They are off to Bunbury, they are off to everywhere, but they are not off to very many places in
this joint.