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Anderson admits he's failed regional Australia.



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Federal Member for Batman Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Transport, Infrastructure and Tourism

Martin Ferguson MP

MEDIA RELEASE

5th March 2003

ANDERSON ADMITS HE’S FAILED REGIONAL AUSTRALIA

The Howard Government’s decision to amalgamate three regional development programs is an admission of seven years of failure by the Minister for Transport and Regional Services.

Since abolishing the Office of Regional Development in 1996, the Government has ripped millions of dollars out of Australia’s regions and overseen a litany of programs designed to maximise electoral advantage.

Labor has learned that the Regional Solutions Program, the Regional Assistance Program and Rural Transaction Centres will be united and funded under one regional development program.

The current programs have been a dismal failure. They confuse and frustrate people because of their unclear, narrow focus.

They don’t target regions in need, they reward only the best laid out applications.

The regional programs are little more than a pork barrel by the Minister to prop up his National Party mates through short-term, quick-fix solutions. They are not designed to address the root causes of regional inequality and disadvantage.

Ultimately they are front-ended projects, usually feasibility studies that raise community expectations, over-work local leaders, provide promotion for Coalition colleagues, and attempt to shift implementation to state and local government.

Despite the Minister’s admission that the arrangements he’s been peddling for seven long years have failed and despite the new approach, the future potential of a new way forward for regional development will not be realised by this Government.

Labor has long advocated working in real partnership with local communities and the private sector to foster growth, job creation, social cohesion, regional sustainability and prosperity.

The Minister will never understand that regional development programs should produce long-term benefits, not a short-term political fix.

For further information: Blythe Hamilton 02 6277 4753 or 0407 099 104