Question about regional policy
Posted December 04, 2018
Cathy has called on the government to provide an update of its response to the Regions at the Ready report.
Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (15:09): My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister. The Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation tabled its report Regions at the readyin June this year. It found that we need long-term flexible strategies that adapt to the individual regions of Australia. The bipartisan report also recommends the government develop a regional Australia white paper. After a year of analysis, 14 public hearings and almost 200 written submissions, there is great interest in the government's response. Can the Deputy Prime Minister provide an update on when we can expect the government's response to this very important report?
Mr McCORMACK (Riverina—Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development and Leader of The Nationals) (15:10): How refreshing it is to have two questions about the economy, about the importance of regional Australia, from the crossbench. We don't ever hear any Labor member getting up and asking questions about the economy. They're always delving into those Canberra bubble issues.
We intend to have the government's response finalised by the end of the year. Minister McKenzie, in the other place, will coordinate the whole-of-government response. I note the member has indicated the number of round tables and submissions to get to this point. That's part of the process. This is a good thing. It's a good thing because people are interested in regional Australia. The member knows and we on this side know that, when our regions are strong, so too is our economy. When the regions are strong, so too is our nation. Many, many people have fed into the process, and it shows that regional people are engaged. They are committed, they are passionate and they are wanting to build a better economy and, through that, wanting to build a better nation. Thanks to good economic management, we will deliver a surplus budget next April. And next year that will enable us to invest in the essential services and the infrastructure that regional Australians want, expect and deserve.
We thank the committee members, including the member for Indi, and I note that the member for Murray has also played an important part in that committee. We thank him for his work and we thank the members on that committee for their important work in making sure that there is a spotlight on regional Australia, making sure that all the sorts of things that we talk about in the regional Australia space are recognised, such as decentralisation. The government believes in and is delivering decentralisation. We also welcome the interest in regional deals. We talk about the Barkly deal at Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory and the deals at Bundaberg and Hervey Bay in the member for Hinkler's electorate. They are progressing and progressing well. The report will also be an important input into our policy development in these areas, including regional deals, decentralisation and the all-important population strategy.
We believe rural and regional Australia deserves good long-term local jobs, and we're committed to doing just that. We are helping small business. We're helping them with the lowest tax rate for 78 years. We're helping them with the instant asset write-off—we're extending that measure, which so many regional businesses have participated in. Talking about decentralisation, just last week we heard the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources highlight the skills of people who want to move to Armidale or Orange through the APVMA, through the Regional Investment Corporation. There were applications from across the world and across Australia for those important positions. We've got AMSA moving their regional headquarters to Coffs Harbour—50 new jobs. People want to get involved in regional Australia. The member for Indi knows how important it is. It's a shame those opposite don't.