Will the Government commit to a regional Australia white paper?
Posted February 13, 2019
Today Cathy asked Prime Minister Morrison to outline his Government's response to the recommendations of the Regions at the Ready report including a regional Australia white paper.
Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (14:13): My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, the Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation tabled its report Regions at the ready in June last year. The report recommends the government develop a comprehensive regional Australia white paper to provide a clear statement of the government's vision for regional Australia. After a year of analysis, 14 public hearings and almost 200 written submissions, there is enormous interest in the government response, particularly in my electorate of Indi. Is the Prime Minister now in a position to outline a response to the recommendations of the report? Prime Minister, will you please commit to a regional Australia white paper?
Mr MORRISON (Cook—Prime Minister) (14:14): I thank the member for her question. My government is committed to taking a strategic and long-term approach to regional development. That's demonstrated in the policies that we've pursued as a government and continue to implement. The Regions at the ready: investing in Australia's futurereport canvassed a range of issues from population, economic growth, employment to livability, as I'm sure the member is aware. The Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation will table the government response in the Senate later today. We have accepted or noted all of the recommendations. I understand that the member for Indi has been offered departmental briefings on the response, and I understand she's agreed to undertake those briefings.
The government will convene an expert panel to undertake a targeted assessment of the issues raised in the report, and they will report back to the government by 31 March 2019. In the meantime, there is $641.6 million for three rounds of the Building Better Regions Fund; $270 million supporting transformational investments through the Regional Growth Fund; $220 million through the regional jobs and investment packages; $137 billion for the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund; $2 billion for the National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility to help identify and build water infrastructure that supports jobs creation and opportunities; $1.8 billion in drought assistance measures and concessional loans to support drought-affected farmers—
The SPEAKER: The member for Indi, on a point of order.
Ms McGowan: It's a point on relevance. The question was: will the Prime Minister commit to a regional white paper?
The SPEAKER: That was one of a couple of questions, and I've made the point to members in this situation on numerous occasions that, if there's more than one question, on a point of order you can't demand that just one part be answered. The only way to have a minister or a prime minister stick to that point is simply to ask them one question. So the Prime Minister is in order and has the call.
Mr MORRISON: $3.9 billion for the Future Drought Fund, which will grow to $5 billion; and $220 million through the Mobile Black Spot Program, co-investing with the private sector, the states and local government in new mobile telecommunications infrastructure to improve mobile coverage. The specific points raised in the member's question will be addressed in the government's response, which will be tabled in the Senate today.