House debates

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Questions without Notice

Regional Australia

3:08 pm

Photo of Mark CoultonMark Coulton (Parkes, Deputy-Speaker, Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government) Share this | Hansard source

I'd like to thank the member for Mallee for her question. There's no doubt that there's no better place to live in the world at the moment than regional Australia. The people in regional Australia, whether they work in the health sector, they work in local government or they deliver services right across the country, are doing a great job of keeping us safe. This government recognises the importance of having the facilities, the services and the personnel to continue that growth, and I'm very proud to say that this government, with the Stronger Rural Health Strategy, has seen an extra 700 doctors and an extra 700 nurses delivered across regional Australia in the last two years. We've seen, through the John Flynn vocational training scheme, a doubling in the number of training places for junior doctors so that they get experience in regional areas. We see that the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network, where we have country people training in country areas to deliver services to country towns, is oversubscribed with people wanting to be part of that.

This week is the Australian local government conference, and councils from right around Australia are here discussing their issues. I am pleased to say that during the pandemic we have partnered with local government, through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program, and those people in those 537 councils all around Australia have been providing stimulus, in partnership with this government, to make sure that those small towns, villages and regional centres right across the country have been kept out of the pandemic and have been put in a stronger position so that they can continue to be the economic powerhouse of this country.

Telecommunications is incredibly important. I am pleased to say that this government has funded 1,200 towers under the Black Spot Program. Over 950 of those are up and running. What I'm really excited about is the Regional Connectivity Program, where, along with the major telecommunications companies, start-up companies—smaller, innovative companies—are delivering bespoke levels of data. Regional Australia has the capacity to grow because of connectivity. They are innovators, they are inventors and they lead the world in innovation, whether it is in agriculture or mining. What we are seeing now with the pandemic is people working remotely, keeping their jobs in the city but living in the country. Regional Australia is the best place to be, and this government is making sure that it will have a secure future.


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