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Repeat offenders: Coalition shuns regional Australia again

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THE HON CATHERINE KING MP Acting Shadow Minister for Regional Australia Federal Member for Ballarat


19 September 2013


The new Coalition Government has reinforced its historical neglect of regional Australia by announcing it will axe the Department of Regional Australia.

For regional communities, Prime Minister Abbott’s decision is proof that old habits die hard and conservative governments are the wreckers of regional development.

Whether it was Robert Menzies who scrapped Chifley’s cooperative regionalism program, Malcolm Fraser who obliterated Whitlam’s Department of Urban and Regional Development, or John Howard who took the axe to that same department after the Hawke-Keating governments committed to rebuilding it, the Coalition has a lamentable record.

Now Prime Minister Abbott has added his name to this shameful list of regional wreckers: scrapping the department that had Regional Australia as its prime focus, and abolishing Labor’s historic regional development programs which invested nearly $16 billion in 11,000 projects across the nation.

To throw regional needs and priorities into the mix of a super-sized government department is clear evidence of the Coalition’s apathy towards regional Australia.

Regional communities will need to fight to have their voices heard amongst those from industry and manufacturing, innovation and science, resources, energy and tourism.

After promising the National Press Club just weeks ago that regional development would be at the forefront of the Coalition’s policy agenda, Warren Truss has yet again been rolled by the Liberal Party.

If the Nationals cannot stand up for regional Australians, who can they stand up for?

Just as Prime Minister Abbott has dissolved the department responsible for foreign aid, split small business across departments, paid lip service only to disability and aged care and abolished the regional department, his message is very clear. If you’re not front and centre, you won’t be heard under Prime Minister Abbott.

MEDIA CONTACT: Peter Dwyer (KING) 0408 137 174