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ADI: Coalition's first chance to show new rural focus is fair dinkum

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press release Page 1 of 1

21 October 1998

ADI: Coalition's first chance to show new rural focus is fair dinkum.

Federal Member for Calare Peter Andren has flagged the Government's plans for the Lithgow ADI plant as a litmus test of its true commitment to regional Australia.

The Coalition is in the process of privatising Australian Defence Industries and as a result of its poor electoral performance in rural areas has announced its second term will be characterised by a renewed regional focus.

"Attending the official opening of the unique and world class Lithgow Small Arms Museum last week impressed upon me the vital role ADI has played in Lithgow's development," Mr Andren said.

"But the future of the Lithgow plant and of the museum depends upon the terms of any privatisation deal the Government strikes with the buyer," he said.

"I have written to the Minister for Finance Mr Fahey asking him to give an assurance that any purchaser of ADI will maintain the rental agreement between ADI Lithgow and the museum," he said.

"I have also asked the Minister what assurances he will be seeking from bidders for ADI about their long term plans for the Lithgow plant,"

"I am hopeful the Coalition's renewed regional development commitment will include a contractual obligation from any purchaser to expand Lithgow ADI," Mr Andren said.

"If the Government is not seeking any such assurances one would seriously question its pledge to regional Australia," Mr Andren said.

"Lithgow is a microcosm of the plight of regional Australia, directly affected by Government tariff and industry policy, cuts to Government services, globalisation and poor commodity prices," he said.

"Rather than simply letting the market decide what is best for the bush, the Government itself needs to think optimistically and creatively about what direction it wants regional Australia to go," Mr Andren said.

"Given the result of the election, I hope the Government will now consider taking a more visionary regional development role, focusing on attracting value-adding industries to rural areas through incentives, improved communication and transport infrastructure," he said.

"If the Government is fair dinkum about its new emphasis on regional development it must start by putting the future of ADI Lithgow high on its second term list of priorities," Mr Andren said.

More information : 6332 6229. 09/03/1999