Inquiry input sought
Victorian Senator Bridget McKenzie has called on regional Australians to make their support clear for more Commonwealth agencies to relocate to country towns.
The Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee is holding an inquiry into the operation, effectiveness and consequences of relocating government offices to regional areas.
Senator McKenzie said the Committee will examine the economic, environmental and capability implications of moving offices out of the big cities, but the advantages for regional areas are substantial.
‘‘The Labor party is yet to support this great initiative and it is a shame they can’t see beyond their inner-city bias,’’ Senator McKenzie said.
‘‘I see examples of relocations working so well, of providing great lifestyle and professional opportunities for entire families in so many areas.
‘‘The median price of a house in Wodonga for instance is $310 000 compared to the Melbourne median price of $770 000, which makes a massive difference to a family wanting their own home.
‘‘But it is much more than that, relocating Commonwealth agencies adds jobs to towns and significant savings for taxpayers with cheaper rents.
‘‘The possibilities are endless, including initiatives that would see the MurrayDarling Basin Authority located in the Murray-Darling Basin, so officers live and work and understand the communities that are impacted by what they do.’’
The Nationals Senator said every town that had ever wanted Centrelink or a tax office, a Centre of Excellence, or an agency should have their say before the Senate Inquiry into decentralisation.
Among the inquiry’s focus will be the relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to Armidale, one of a series of decentralisation initiatives undertaken by the Coalition Government.
‘‘Jobs mean so much to country towns and that is why so many people in all sorts of areas, from Wodonga to Wangaratta, Benalla to Beechworth and beyond strongly support this initiative,’’ Senator McKenzie said.
‘‘Building diverse local economies are so important for future opportunities across Regional Australia.’’ ■ Submissions can be made to Senator McKenzie or direct to the committee at firstname.lastname@example.org The closing date is March 9.