REGIONAL Development, Local Government and Regional Communications Minister Fiona Nash has launched a new policy document outlining her government’s vision for regional communities.
Senator Nash unveiled the “Regions 2030 - Unlocking Opportunity” paper today, ahead of the NSW Nationals’ conference in Broken Hill.
The 30-page document strings together a summary of regional funding initiatives like the inland rail and health, communications and education initiatives and an additional $200 million budgeted last week for Building Better Regions Fund - but only makes brief references to farming and agriculture.
For new initiatives, Senator Nash refers to the government’s decentralisation policy in the foreword to the strategic document.
“We will lead by example by creating jobs in regional communities,” she said.
“The Australian government’s commitment to the structured decentralisation of Australian government jobs from Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra will benefit regional Australia through the creation of local jobs and career paths, increased economic diversification and the stimulation of economic growth.
“This commitment builds on the decentralisation of Australian government activities with core relevance to rural and regional Australia, such as the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation’s relocation to Wagga Wagga.”
Senator Nash said agriculture was vital not only to the regions but also the national economy.
“Regional Australia is not just important to those of us who live here,” she said.
“The Australian economy is largely driven by its regions.
“Australia’s agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining industries, predominantly located in regional Australia, made up 57 per cent of the value of Australia’s merchandise exports in 2016.
“Forty five cents in every dollar spent in Australia by international or local visitors is spent in regional areas.
“Most of the gas and electricity which powers city households is produced in regional Australia.”
Senator Nash said the establishment of the new Regional Australia Ministerial Taskforce was a “significant indicator” of the government's commitment to regional Australia.
“Like other regional Australians, I know that government does not have all the answers,” she said.
“The most sensible solutions are often developed in the regions themselves.
“That is why the Australian government will continue to back local communities to drive their own futures and be the leaders of their own destinies.”
Senator Nash said regional development was about having a vision for what we want regional communities to look like in 20 years.
“A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to developing regional policy does not work - regions 2030 focuses on working with communities to meet their economic and social needs, which will help to improve life for rural, regional and remote Australians,” she said.