More city-based government jobs are set to go to the bush, with Federal Agriculture and Water Minister putting decentralisation on his pre-election agenda.
Mr Littleproud’s decentralisation push follows the announcement that it would fill the 85 public sector jobs in the Regional Investment Corporation in Orange, NSW, following a recruitment process the netted 340 applicants, including 85 from the local region.
“I’v had the crazy idea of putting government services in the same place as the people they serve,” Mr Littleproud quipped.
“There are two agencies I’m looking at with feasibility studies at the moment, and hopefully announcing before the end of the year.
“We are working through the detail now in a methodical, sensible way.”
Mr Littleproud said private business is starting to recognise the “enormous opportunities” and government should lead the way.
“Invariably business will follow us when we make these decisions,” he said.
The Regional Investment Corporation manages a $4 billion funding pool for concessional loans for farm business and water infrastructure.
Mr Littleproud said the successful recruitment process showed decentralisation can deliver tangible benefits.
“Public sector jobs are a huge economic driver creating many jobs downstream,” he said.
“The new corporate, agri-finance and executive staff will spend money locally, creating more jobs.
““It’s no wonder we’re getting hundreds of applications from inside and outside the region for these new public service jobs in Orange. The place is beautiful; it’s a great place to raise kids, has excellent food and wine and you can park out front of your favourite restaurant.”
Orange has grown as a centre for regional business in recent years, following the relocation of around 600 staff in the NSW Department of Primary Industries, the establishment of Macquarie Bank’s Paraway Pastoral, well as the head office of The Land (published by Fairfax Agriculture Media).
Mr Littleproud said the controversy surrounding the relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to Armidale, which was initiated when his predecessor Barnaby Joyce managed the portfolio, was “just politics”.
“It’s about creating a centre of excellence with a renowned university (University of New England) - not a two-bit school,” he said.
“It’s been done in a methodical way and now there’ll be more senior scientists staying in Canberra, but there’s nothing untoward about that.”