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Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Page: 1907

Mr CHRISTENSEN (Dawson) (13:52): It was bad enough when Mackay Gymnastics were competing against the Geelong Cats for funding. Now they are competing with Sydney's newest AFL club and the Penrith Panthers, Canterbury Bulldogs, and Parramatta Eels NRL teams—because the Gillard Labor government is expanding the definition of 'regional' to include Western Sydney.

I was critical of what was deemed as 'regional' when the application by Mackay Gymnastics under the Regional Development Australia Fund in 2011 was rejected while the Geelong Cats scored $10 million. The Gillard Labor government has now encouraged clubs and organisations in Greater Western Sydney—suburbs of the biggest capital city in Australia, with a population of over two million—to make applications to the Regional Development Australia Fund.

What is the point of regional funding if Labor is just going to siphon it back into the capital cities? This funding is specifically designed to address the inequities between places like Mackay and Sydney. Mackay is a growing city with a lot of young people, young people who miss out on a lot of the infrastructure and opportunity that capital cities have because of their higher populations. The Gillard Labor government is quite happy to take all the wealth being generated from regions like Mackay—generated by the mining industry—but they will not tolerate any funding being returned. This cash grab for Greater Western Sydney is nothing more than a blatant political move to try and save the Prime Minister's job in an area that has stopped listening to her lies and broken promises. Please—regions are regions and capitals are capitals. Do one thing right and understand the difference.