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Regional Australia to derive stronger links with Asia



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The Hon Simon Crean MP

Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government Minister for the Arts

Sunday, 28 October, 2012

REGIONAL AUSTRALIA TO DRIVE STRONGER LINKS WITH ASIA

Australia’s regions will drive stronger links with Asia to seize the economic opportunities that emerge during the next century, Regional Development Minister Simon Crean said today.

Mr Crean said the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper paves the way for regions to build on the significant progress made by the Federal Government in embedding localism across the country.

“The Federal Government is partnering with state and local governments to deliver location-based solutions to ensure each part of regional Australia can get its slice of the action during the Asian century,” Mr Crean said.

“Many regions have already established a subnational approach to trade, with region-to-region arrangements building on people-to-people contact.

“A multiplicity of sister-city and sister-state links with Asia already exists across Australia, with over 100 of these relationships with Japan and more than 80 with China.

“The White Paper recognises the opportunity to take what we’ve established and maximise the benefits.

“We will continue to support stronger relationships between state and local government and their regional counterparts.

“The localism approach has been agreed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and is reflected in the White Paper, which recognises that regions must diversify their economic base to maintain their competitive edge.

“Every region in Australia is looking at the opportunities opening up in Asia—from right across northern Australia, down to Tasmania and through the Upper Spencer Gulf.

“Across northern Australia, economic growth will underpin the expansion of Darwin, Kununurra and north Queensland as regional hubs and gateways for trade with Asian nations.

The Northern Australia Ministerial Forum, which I chair, will also continue to support other strategic growth hubs in northern Queensland and Western Australia.”

Mr Crean said the challenge for regions was to turn their comparative advantages into a competitive global edge.

“The Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF) has already invested $350 million in 81 partnership projects with a leveraged value of $1.2 billion,” he said.

“Last week I announced the opening of RDAF rounds three and four, committing another $225 million to leveraged projects that deliver a strong regional reach—including $50 million specifically targeted at small towns with a population of 30,000 or less.

“RDAF will continue to drive a cultural change in regional funding by focusing on priorities of persistence and projects that stack-up, partnership and leverage, and regional reach.”

Media contact: Glen Atwell 0403 949 599