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"Secure public institutions, secure regional services": Labor's plan for restoring services to regional Australia.

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Sue Mackay - Secure Public Institutions, Secure Regional Services - Labor's Plan For Restoring Services To Regional Australia

Monday, 22 October 2001

ALP News Statements

"Secure Public Institutions, Secure Regional Services"

Labor's Plan For Restoring Services To Regional Australia

Sue Mackay - Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government

Media Statement - 20 October 2001

Labor's Plan for our Regions was launched today in Ballarat by Federal Labor Leader, Kim Beazley.

Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Senator Sue Mackay, together with the Regional Policy Shadow Ministry team, attended the launch in Ballarat's Civic Hall.

"Labor's broad commitment to regional services includes:

A 100% guarantee to keep Telstra in majority public ownership; ● Strengthening the role of Australia Post in expanded regional services; ● Recognising the role of the ABC in providing regional news and current affairs services, digital TV, and additional transmission capacity. ●

Supporting schools on the basis of need, TAFE colleges and universities, rather than the Coalition's unfair funding boost to elite Category 1 private schools in the cities. ●

Investing in our public hospitals, rather than standing by as facilities are run down and waiting times lengthen. ●

Access Australia Strategy: Integrated, Flexible Services

Labor's Access Australia Strategy will improve access to essential government information and services for Australians everywhere, via face-to-face outlets, telephone support through a toll-free number, and useful internet content via a regional web portal.

"Labor will provide Federal, State and local government shopfront services via single cost-efficient

outlets, whether that be an Australia Post outlet, a Rural Transaction Centre, a council office, a State government 'one-stop-shop' or another Federal Government outlet.

"The key to Labor's approach is flexibility, built on the strength of the under-utilised Australia Post network, and increased co-operation between all levels of government.

Labor's Plan for Australia Post

"Australia Post is a powerful network capable of delivering an expanded range of face-to-face services and online information to regional communities.

"Critical services for regional Australia include banking (through the extension of GiroPost to post offices left without this technology by the Coalition), Medicare Easyclaim, telecommunications, and broadband internet access combined with new internet content initiatives on Government information and services.

"This improvement in services provided through Post Offices will begin with communities most in need of access to basic services but will avoid duplication with existing providers of regional services, such as Rural Transaction Centres (RTCs) and State Government "one-stop-shops". This service expansion is just part of Labor's Access Australia Strategy for integrated, flexible services delivered to regional Australia via public institutions.

Labor's Banking Policy

"Labor will ensure that banks meet their social obligations across Australia through a Social Charter of Community Obligations for banks.

"This Social Charter will restore affordable banking services to all Australians and restore banking services to communities that have lost them. Importantly, the Social Charter will be legally binding on banks. Under the Howard Government, almost 500 bank branches have been closed down in regional Australia.

"Labor will require that banks consult with communities and provide six month's notice of branch closures to allow planning for alternative providers. These arrangements will be amongst the toughest in the world.

Pathways to sustainable growth

These initiatives are just part of Labor's comprehensive regional package which is Labor's commitment to sustainable growth and development for all Australia.

"This approach offers regional Australians certainty and security after the Coalition years, during which core regional public institutions have been undermined" said Senator Mackay.

"For despite all the promises, the Coalition revealed its true colours after the 1996 election when the then Minister for Regional Development said there was no clear rationale for the Commonwealth's involvement in regional development.

Even now, Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson, the Minister for Regional Development, has no new

policies at all.

"Labor believes that regional Australians deserve access to the essential services that people living in capital cities take for granted. Labor will protect and strengthen the essential public institutions that service regional communities, rather than threaten them with privatisation, deregulation and misguided competition policy.

"While the Coalition continues to diminish regional Australia with scraps of funding and undeveloped programs, Labor will be listening to regional Australia, governing for all Australians, and breathing life back into regional services," said Senator Mackay.

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.