16/02/2017

Statement on Decentralisation – House of Representatives

The National Party is the party of infrastructure and decentralisation.  We’re serious about creating new economic opportunities in regional communities by building infrastructure that enables them to grow and prosper.  We are also serious about examining the economic and social benefits of decentralising government jobs and services – and relocating them from capital cities to the regions.

After all, we live in a big country and there’s no reason, particularly with the improvements to telecommunications and transport networks, why government agencies should be located in Canberra and the capital cities.

In my electorate, with the roll out of the NBN and upgrades to the Bruce highway progressing, the Wide Bay is better connected to Brisbane and beyond. 

Our region has a historically high unemployment rate.  

I’d like to see decentralisation bring new jobs and new investment to Wide Bay to help people into work.

The relocation of Commonwealth agencies to the regions brings well paying, skilled jobs to local areas.

New jobs means new investment, which creates more opportunities and prosperity in local communities, sustaining new jobs, as the multiplier effects flow through the economy.

More jobs in regional areas means more opportunities for skilled young people who may have left their home community to study, to return back home, and give back to their community.

Public servants working in the regions will give them a better understanding of the issues and challenges affecting regional communities, and lead to better policy outcomes for regional areas.

Together with affordable housing and a lower cost of living, I believe the Wide Bay is an ideal place in which Government agencies and departments could be located.

Why should tens of thousands of public servants be holed up in crammed apartments in Canberra and capital cities, when our regions offer better housing and a better quality of life?

Decentralisation delivers benefits to both taxpayers and families.  The cost of regional office facilities saves taxpayers millions of dollars in rent, and regional living offers people a better environment to raise a family.

Australia’s wealth is created in the regions so it’s only fair that our regions get their fair share of that wealth returned to them.  After all, regional Australia supplies the water, food, and electricity which sustains our cities.

Now, the opportunity for decentralisation to work needs to be backed by government investment in infrastructure.

And the Coalition Government is taking real action to address this through programs and policies to build the infrastructure our regional communities need, to deliver the health services that families rely on, and create an economic climate that encourages businesses to generate jobs.

Our Mobile Phone Black Spot Program has delivered 765 new mobile phone base stations across Australia, extending mobile network coverage to more than 32,000 homes and businesses that had no coverage before. 

In contrast, under Labor, not one new mobile phone base station was built.  Labor was happy to leave country communities in the dark.

The Coalition Government’s National Rural Health Commissioner will help us to deliver better health outcomes for people living in rural, regional and remote Australia.

A concept never contemplated by Labor or The Greens.

The Coalition has refocussed the roll out of the NBN to ensure that underserviced areas are prioritised. 

Under Labor, the NBN was a complete debacle, not one of Labor’s roll out, connection, or financial targets were met, and not one property in Wide Bay was connected to NBN fibre.

Our National Stronger Regions and Building Better Regions Funds are supporting projects to unlock the economic potential of regional communities.

A better Bruce Highway also supports decentralisation. 

We’re investing more than $1 billion in a range of projects including Sections A and C of the Cooroy to Curra upgrade, a new Tinana Interchange, and more than a dozen projects to improve safety and increase capacity in Wide Bay.

All of these initiatives help to bridge the divide between city and country and make decentralisation a realistic and worthy policy pursuit for the Government.