In­de­pen­dent puts out a po­lit­i­cal chal­lenge for re­gional com­mu­ni­ties

North East & Goulburn Murray Farmer - - NEWS -

CATHY McGowan (MHR, Indi) has chal­lenged the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to de­vise and fund a na­tional vi­sion that dis­tin­guishes a long-term de­vel­op­ment strat­egy for ru­ral Aus­tralia and to mea­sure the out­comes.

The In­de­pen­dent used the first full sit­ting week of the new par­lia­ment last month for a land­mark speech about defin­ing a strate­gic ap­proach and pro­vid­ing a bud­get to en­able coun­try com­mu­ni­ties to re­alise their as­pi­ra­tions.

Ms McGowan also dared the Na­tion­als – the coali­tion’s ju­nior part­ner – to spell out a de­vel­op­ment plan for ru­ral and re­gional Aus­tralia, ar­gued for a stan­dard re­gional Aus­tralia im­pact test as part of the Bud­get process, and spurred the gov­ern­ment to com­mit to “ac­tu­ally do for ru­ral and re­gional Aus­tralia what needs to be done”.

Ms McGowan – sup­port­ing a Bud­get Ap­pro­pri­a­tion Bill – said she was elected to speak up for coun­try Aus­tralia.

“As tax­pay­ers in ru­ral and re­gional Aus­tralia we want to see our dol­lars com­ing back to us – not just as trickle-down or by-the-way,” she said.

“We want to see ser­vices come to our com­mu­nity that ad­dress our needs, that are specif­i­cally de­signed for the group of peo­ple who live in the coun­try, be­cause we all know… that it is dif­fer­ent to the city.”

Ms McGowan said she had not seen any vi­sion for ru­ral Aus­tralia in the coali­tion’s Bud­get pa­pers or in the Na­tion­als’ fed­eral elec­tion doc­u­ments or web­site, de­scrib­ing the cam­paign pub­lic­ity as re­veal­ing “zilch, nada, noth­ing”.

“I think there is an as­sump­tion that one size will fit every­thing,” she said.

“There is an as­sump­tion that trickle-down might work.

“There is maybe even an as­sump­tion that a ris­ing tide lifts all boats.

“If we know any­thing about ru­ral and re­gional Aus­tralia, we know it just does not hap­pen.”

Ms McGowan said the gov­ern­ment had shown with its north­ern Aus­tralia plan that it could de­vise “whole-of-re­gion, in­te­grated, strate­gic, long-term, sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment” in a sectoral way, just as it did with de­fence plan­ning.

“But what about the rest of us?” she asked.

“What about North- East Vic­to­ria, or south­ern New South Wales?

“What about a strate­gic ap­proach to how our com­mu­nity is go­ing to reach its po­ten­tial?”

Ms McGowan said her hope five decades from now would be that Aus­tralia main­tained an agenda that bal­anced coun­try Aus­tralia’s de­vel­op­ment in­ter­ests with that of na­tion’s cities.

“We need to turn around the idea that all Aus­tralia is an ur­ban fringe and that the jobs and growth plan is for the ur­ban­ites,” she said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.