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Region shares in $3.5 billion regional development budget outcome

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Other Media Statements [Minister for Regional Development. Territories and Local [Michael Ronaldson, Parliamentary Government] Secretary]

[Minister for Transport and Regional Development] [Departmental]

M e d i a

R e l e a s eTHE HON ALEX SC Minister for Regional Development, Territories and I S50/98 19 May 1998


The Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government, Alex Somlyay said the Coalition's Regional Australia Strategy announced in the Costello Budget is based on a recognition that all areas of government activity affect regional Australia.

Mr Somlyay was commenting on the Coalition's regional development spending commitments with local Federal Liberal Member for Herbert, Peter Lindsay.

"The strenuous representations by Peter Lindsay on behalf of the Townsville region has resulted in major defence spending. The proposed $ 139m upgrade of the Lavarack Barracks over the coming four years and the commencement of the $70m upgrade of RAAF Base Garbutt are significant investments in the regions vital defence infrastructure.

"At Peter Lindsay's request I will have talks with the Townsville Port Authority about the development of a new access route for heavy road and rail transport into the port to reduce the flow of this traffic through residential areas of the city," Mr Somlyay said.

As shown in my ministerial statement Regional Australia: Our Commitment, the scale and breadth of the Coalition's commitment to regional Australia far exceeds the failed efforts of Labor.

Through five programmes alone the Coalition has committed in excess of $3.5 billion to regional Australia: ·

the $1.25 billion Natural Heritage Trust · the $ I billion Federation Fund; · the $250 million Regional Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund; · more than $700 million on Federal road funding; and · the $525 million Agriculture - Advancing Australia package. ■

Our Strategy is to ensure that the needs and interests of people in regional Australia are paramount in the decisions taken in all portfolios.

Unlike Labor we do not believe that the interests of regional Australia should be quarantined and addressed by one portfolio alone.

Unlike Labor we will not attempt to deceive people into thinking that a single programme, like the Labor's REDO scheme can fix all ills in regional areas. Unlike Labor we don't 'put all of our eggs in one basket' and expect a single programme to meet the many and varied needs of regional Australia.

RDO's duplicated the functions of many existing local government and community based organisations. In many cases RDO boards were populated with 'Labor mates', not with the most talented community leaders.

The majority of the money allocated to the RDO programme was spent on funding organisational structures: many of them in city, not country, areas.

Voters in regional Australia recognised these deficiencies and rejected Labor resoundingly at the last election. The Coalition has a stronger, more integrated, focus on the needs of regional Australia than Labor ever displayed in 16/10/1998



• there are two ministers in the Coalition Government with specific responsibility for regional affairs; • the needs and interests of regional Australia are acknowledged across all portfolios; • the Prime Minister has appointed a high level Ministerial Working Group on Regional Affairs to ensure the all ministers consider the regional impact of new and continuing initiatives;

• regional interests are strongly represented by the 49 Coalition backbench members, including Peter Lindsay from regional electorates like Herbert.

The Coalition also benefits considerably from advice received through the network of Area Consultative Committees (ACCs) established under the employment, education and training portfolio.

Never before has the voice of regional Australia been heard more clearly in Canberra.

In addition, a very substantial contribution is made to regional communities through financial assistance grants to local government. Regional councils receive over $800 million of the $1.2 billion we are providing in grants to local government. More than $265 million of the money granted to regional councils is earmarked for local roads.

The Government has maintained the Local Government Development Programme with $5.4m allocated in 1998/99 to assist local government develop innovative best practice management.

The $10 million regional development coordination initiative is a key element of our Regional Australia Strategy. It will ensure that people in regional Australia are aware of and have access to the programmes which comprise our Regional Australia Strategy.

Labor's dismal record and narrow approach to the many and varied needs of regional Australia does not stack-up against the Coalition's integrated and comprehensive commitment to the regions.

* * * * * *

Further information: Graeme Hallet (Minister's Office) 02-6277 7060

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