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Labor States show their contempt for regional Australia.

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MEDIA RELEASE The Hon John Anderson MP Deputy Prime Minister Minister for Transport and Regional Services Leader of The Nationals

05 March 2004 A29/2004


The state Labor governments have again shown their contempt for regional Australia by cancelling the March meeting of the Regional Development Ministerial Council, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson, said today.

The meeting was scheduled for the 12th of March. The Australian Government would have been represented by De-Anne Kelly, who is the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the Government's regional assistance programmes.

"The council was due to discuss key regional development issues, such as:

● encouraging skilled migration to regional areas; and

● population ageing and demographic change, which is a particularly challenging issue

for regional Australia because of the steady drift of young and working age people to the major cities.

"De-Anne Kelly was ready to take all of these issues forward on behalf of the Australian Government.

"But the Victorian, Queensland, Northern Territory and New South Wales Labor governments clearly don't care about the future of regional Australia. They just wanted to use the meeting as a political stunt to support the Labor Opposition in Canberra.

"The NSW Regional Development Minister, David Campbell, showed his hand when he demanded that the meeting debate the funding of the Princes Highway as a matter of priority. But it is the NSW Government's responsibility; David Campbell is just looking for an opportunity to blame someone else for his failings as the state Minister for Illawarra.

"The state Labor governments abandoned the meeting because they realised they would have to consider the real issues and not just posture and preen in front of the television cameras. We're back to our usual problem with the state Labor governments, which is that they don't turn up at regional development meetings when there's work to be done.

"The Coalition Government will press on with our regional assistance programmes, despite the complete lack of support from the state Labor governments. They talk about their commitment to regional development but they don't back it up with any real money.

"We have invested over $30 billion in specific programmes supporting regional Australia; our policies are providing better services, more health professionals and more jobs.

"Even David Campbell has endorsed what we do. He conceded, last week, that our: 'regional development programs play a key role in boosting regional economies and creating jobs outside capital cities,'" Mr Anderson said.

Media Contacts

Bill McKinley ( Minister Anderson's Office ) 02 6277 7680 / 0407 701 034