In­quiry in­put sought

Shepparton News - Country News - - SEYMOUR ALTERNATIVE FARMING EXPO 2017 -

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 fpa.sen@aph.gov.au The clos­ing date is March 9.

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