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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9114

Regional Development Australia Fund

Mr CHAMPION (Wakefield) (15:04): My question is to Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development, Local Government and the Arts. How is the government supporting communities across Australia through the regional development—

Mr Abbott interjecting

Mr Albanese: Madam Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. I hesitate to interrupt my friend the member for Wakefield, but the Leader of the Opposition should withdraw the interjections he persistently makes across the chamber along the lines on which you have insisted they be withdrawn.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The Leader of the Opposition will withdraw without qualification.

Mr Abbott: I withdraw.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I thank the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr Abbott: It is still an untrue statement.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will remove himself from the chamber under standing order 94(a). The Leader of the Opposition has now been advised by the chair on more than one occasion. I asked you, as you approached the dispatch box, to do it without qualification. You could not help yourself. The Leader of the Opposition will leave the chamber under 94(a).

The Leader of the Opposition then left the chamber.

Mr CHAMPION: My question is to the Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development, Local Government and the Arts. How is the government supporting communities across the country through the Regional Development Australia Fund, including in the mid-north region in my electorate? What are the government's future plans for the Regional Development Australia Fund?

Mr CREAN (HothamMinister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government and Minister for the Arts) (15:06): I thank the member for Wakefield for his question and his commitment to regional development generally but particularly in his electorate. The Regional Development Australia Fund that he refers to is an important commitment on the part of this government, a billion-dollar fund over its term to assist regions to make economic and social infrastructure adjustments.

In the member's seat recently, in round 2 we were able to ensure the funding of the Wakefield-Auburn pipeline. This is a water infrastructure initiative, and it is essential to ensuring the development of housing as well as farmland expansion in that area. Without this investment, the housing and the farmland development would not have taken place. The farmland development is very important to support the continued growth of the poultry industry in his electorate, so you can see that this has both social and economic impact.

Our approach, of course, is, 'Stronger regions equal a stronger nation,' and that is why we are committed to strengthening regions in our country, across the country. This was one of seven programs funded in South Australia in the second round and 46 over the country. A new culture has developed. We have gotten away from the rorts that personified regional development under the previous government, to a culture of genuine partnership. In fact, the $200 million that we funded in this second round leveraged $800 million, so the multiplier is four to one. We have got a lot in this round who did not get up in the first round but persisted in making their projects stack up, and they got supported. They also paid attention not just to where this proposal would be located but to the wider regional significance.

I am also asked about the future of this fund. The future of this fund under us is now secure, because we have secured passage of the minerals resource rent tax, a means by which we want to spread the benefits of the mining boom to the rest of regional Australia to ensure that they get their fair share. Under us, there will be three more rounds. But, as to the future, these rounds would not go ahead if those opposite were in government, because they are committed to abolishing the tax and therefore the means by which they fund this proposal. The challenge on the other side is to either be honest with the Australian electorate and say that you are going to keep the tax or to tell us where you are going to get the money from to fund a program that is benefiting regions. (Time expired)

Ms Gillard: I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.