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Tuesday, 2 September 2014
Page: 9498


Ms PRICE (Durack) (21:25): In my    electorate of Durack there are four Regional Development Australia offices servicing the Mid West and Gascoyne, the Pilbara, the Kimberley and the wheat belt. As I work across the electorate, the RDA CEOs keep me informed of their work, priorities and plans for regional development. Front of mind for me is the future of RDAs—their funding, function and tenure, which is currently subject to review by the Minister for Regional Development. The RDAs have economic development at their core and each has responded to local priorities in a different way.

I would like to take this opportunity to focus on the good work of the RDA Mid West-Gascoyne, which has its offices in Geraldton and Carnarvon, servicing an area of over 600,000 square kilometres from Exmouth in the north to Coorow in the south and east to Wiluna. It includes the Indian Ocean Territories. Led ably by Executive Officer Alan Bradley, it has had a direct hand in securing significant investment in the region over the past four years on major works, including the Shire of Carnarvon flood mitigation works, the City of Greater Geraldton West End Foreshore development, the Shire of Cocos Keeling Islands Emden/Sydney memorial gazebo, the Shire of Christmas Island Senior Citizen Centre, and the Shire of Exmouth multiservice tourism and community facility. RDA Mid West has led the way in preparing economic development strategies for four regions in this area, including the North Midlands, the Batavia Coast, the Gascoyne—which is known for the Learmonth Defence base—and the Murchison, with the historic mining towns of Cue, Mount Magnet and Meekatharra.

The Mid West-Gascoyne RDA collaborates with the state based development commissions to deliver economic outcomes for their communities. Their five priorities are food production, implementation of a regional tourism strategy, the Oakajee deepwater port and serviced industrial estate, the Mid West Energy Project, and Freight Link, which is hopefully developing linkages between the regions, with corridors such as the Oakajee-Narngulu Infrastructure Corridor, and Wiluna-Meekatharra road upgrades. Further north, we see the work of the RDA Pilbara, which operates out of the new city of Karratha. This services an area of some 500,000 square kilometres and includes the town of Port Hedland, the Shire of Ashburton, the City of Karratha and the Shire of East Pilbara. Led by CEO Diane Pentz, the Pilbara RDA has a direct hand in securing funds for the region, such as regional development funding of $15 million towards the Karratha Leisureplex, $5 million for five years for the West Pilbara Communities for Children program, and the Pilbara Regional Children's Services Plan, which details the provision of early-years services across the Pilbara, considers trends and informs government of the challenges facing service providers.

This non-profit, community based organisation makes an important contribution to planning and regional development through forums, workshops, studies, working parties and committees. In the past 12 months alone, RDA Pilbara has released a number of key studies, which include the RDA Pilbara Regional Plan 2013-2016, the Pilbara State of the Environment report,    and Cost of Doing Business in the Pilbara 2013/14. These studies underpin economic development planning in the region and for the state.

Assisting the economic and social imperatives of child care and education, the Pilbara RDA has established two Strengthening Early Years groups, in Port Hedland and in Newman. They are very active in the planning process and the RDA has also made numerous submissions on behalf of the people of the Pilbara, including the State Planning Strategy 2050, the inquiry into the development of northern Australia, and the submission on fly in and fly out. RDA Pilbara works in partnership to deliver economic programs such as the Pilbara Pulse conference, the Karratha Business Expo, Northern Australian Alliance, and so on. As you can see, they are very busy. Major collaborations are concerned with the delivery of social service support for remote Indigenous communities, support for disenfranchised youth, and economic diversification projects.

Both the Pilbara RDA and the Mid West-Gascoyne RDA play a valuable role in my electorate of Durack in understanding community needs, without which communities would be less empowered. Building stronger regions and providing information and advice to all levels of government is a highly valued role of all RDAs. Every opportunity I get, I am promoting the ongoing, valuable role of RDAs and in particular to the Minister for Regional Development.

The SPEAKER: It being 9.30 pm, the debate is interrupted.

House adjourned at 21:30