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Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Page: 2006

Mr CHESTER (Gippsland) (19:58): I rise to raise my concern that regional Australia does not have an authentic regional voice within this current government's cabinet. Despite the recent reshuffle of the ministry, it is alarming but true that there is not a single Labor cabinet minister who actually lives in regional Australia. Those listening at home may ask why this matters. It matters because if you are going to represent regional Australia you need to have a passion for regional Australia. You have to live there and work there to understand the needs, expectations, hopes and aspirations of regional people. You need to live and work amongst us to really appreciate our love for our communities and the challenges we face.

It bothers me that the minister for agriculture lives in Brisbane. The Minister for Regional and Rural Development is Melbourne based—and he now thinks that Western Sydney is deserving of regional funding, which is not surprising since he gave regional funding to the Perth Airport link road. The trade minister lives in the southern suburbs of Brisbane and the roads minister lives in inner Sydney. This is the most city-centric cabinet since the Rudd government, actually. The lack of regional representation in this government is a real concern for regional people. It is no wonder that regional people feel unrepresented by the Gillard and Rudd governments and that they do not get a fair go from the Australian Labor Party.

The SPEAKER: Order! It being 8 pm, the debate is interrupted.

House adjourned at 20:00