Question to PM about policies and resources for regional Australia
Posted February 14, 2019
Cathy has asked a follow-up question to the Prime Minister, asking him to undertake to provide regional Australia with appropriate policies and resources.
Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (15:08): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to my question yesterday and acknowledge the release of the government's response to the Regions at the ready report. The response, sadly, confirms that regional policy is uncoordinated, without planning or strategy. Traditionally people in regional Australia have supported the government, but, as outlined in the Rusted Off book, that is clearly changing as we are continually treated as second-class citizens. That's confirmed by this response. Prime Minister, as you prepare for the budget, will you personally commit to read this government response and undertake to give regional Australia the policies and resources we deserve to take our place with this great nation?
Mr MORRISON (Cook—Prime Minister) (15:09): Yesterday the member asked me whether we had committed to a white paper on regional Australia. As you'd know, in that response, we have committed to doing exactly that. That is exactly what the member had been advocating to this government, that we should do that, and that is exactly what the government is going to be doing.
The other thing I'd say to the member is this: the one thing that will continue to fund services to the record levels that we are as a government, not just in metropolitan Australia but in rural and regional Australia, is the economic plan that we continue to operate. In this country, as a result of the economic plan of this government, we have seen record growth in employment. We have seen businesses started, established all over the country. We have lowered taxes. We have provided a $5.6 billion investment into drought-proofing and providing support to Australians in rural and regional areas that are afflicted by the drought, with, I'd argue, one of the most comprehensive responses to drought that this nation has seen. I commend Minister Littleproud and I commend Major General Day for the work that he's been doing, working with rural and regional communities all around the country.
Mr Shorten: And the envoy.
Mr MORRISON: You're right: I commend the member for New England as well and his responsibilities as the special envoy, out there working with rural and regional communities all around the country. Whether it's the Inland Rail, whether it's our investment in regional universities, whether it is our investment in mobile towers, as the Deputy Prime Minister has reminded us, our government will continue to invest in the infrastructure, the services and the support that rural and regional Australians depend on. And they are represented by the countless number of rural and regional members that sit on the coalition benches, who are the most—the most—voracious advocates for the people of rural and regional Australia.
There is not a day that goes by in my responsibility as Prime Minister that my rural and regional members are not raising these issues and championing the cause of rural and regional Australia. That is why, under our government, rural and regional Australia is getting the level of service and support that it has only seen under this government at those record levels. And it will continue to receive it. I want to thank the members for their wonderful advocacy as rural and regional members to ensure that it will always have a voice in government here in Australia.