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Listening exercise two years late: Anderson botches regional forums program.

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Martin Ferguson - Listening Exercise Two Years Late: Anderson Botches Regional Forums Program Tuesday, 21 August 2001

Listening Exercise Two Years Late: Anderson Botches Regional Forums Program Martin Ferguson - Shadow Minister for Regional Development and Regional Services

Media Statement - 20 August 2001

National Party Leader John Anderson has some explaining to do after announcing that the Government will hold a Regional Forum in Tamworth next month.

The Federal Government's 'listening exercise' in New England and North West NSW was scheduled to take place in September 1999, but has somehow managed to slip off the agenda for two whole years.

Mr Anderson needs to explain whether this delay is a case of political opportunism or just plain incompetence. He is two years late, so he will certainly have some explaining to do when he gets to Tamworth.

With the federal election looming, and Mr Anderson under pressure in his own electorate, you would have to question the government's sincerity when it claims to want to listen to the concerns of people in regional Australia.

Prime Minister John Howard says people in regional Australia should judge this government on its record - here it is.

Twenty regional forums were promised under the Coalition Government's Regional Forums Australia Program, and these were to be completed by December 2000. ●

On the basis of these listening exercises held across the country, the Government was to produce a "State of the Nation" report, with in-depth information about Australia's regions, by March 2001. ●

But the 20 regional forums never happened, and the "State of the Nation" report has never been heard of since. ●

If Mr Howard wants people in our regions to judge this government on its record, he should be very

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

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