Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Questions without Notice
Rural and Regional Services
I thank the member for Capricornia. I congratulate her on her great victory in that seat and I know that she is a huge promoter of regional development, like many others in the House, including those on this side. I had the opportunity today to address the National Press Club. Finally I was granted a pair at 8.30 last night, and we were able to scramble that together. I think that highlights that the new cooperative process the opposition says it is engaged in is taking some time to settle down. Unfortunately there was not the opportunity for other members who wanted to attend that speech to do so—and I notice that the member for New England is nodding accordingly.
Of course this government is committed to the development of this country through its regions. We have always held that view. If you look at the Governor-General’s speech yesterday you will see the emphasis that is given to that. Of course a significant reason for that emphasis being given was the agreement that the government reached with the rural independents in particular, which was important in this government forming its majority. I thank the member for New England and the member for Lyne in particular, but I have had the opportunity to speak with the member for Denison since and I hope that with the other independents we can find the time to go through the basis upon which this strategy can operate to their advantage. I have also been approached by many members on the other side of the chamber, notably the member for Gilmore, who I saw at a restaurant last night. She and the whip who in the end granted that leave to me both invited me to their regions. I will be delighted to go.
Obviously the structure is important. The cabinet committee that has been established will give strategic advice and play a coordinating role to ensure not only that the views of the regions are considered but that the proper proportionality is achieved. The parliamentary committee is to be established. It will be chaired, as I understand it, by the member for New England, and of course we are also seeking greater cooperation from states and local government in this delivery mechanism.
We also want to work through Regional Development Australia. It is a vital organ for the dissemination of the views and the creative ideas of our regions. Regional Development Australia was formed under the government in its last term. We look to strengthening its role and using effectively its voice and local input, its local empowerment, to inform us about the way in which the nation’s resources are effectively and efficiently allocated. Those resources are significant, and I will have the opportunity on other occasions in this chamber to go through them. The key thing here is that we want to find the right balance between local input delivering on national objectives. That is the new approach to regionalism that this government will pursue. I look forward to the cooperation not only of those who have signed the agreement with us but of all other members who genuinely believe in the development of our regions and who want to play a constructive role. Get on board, because we are in the market for great ideas.