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Speech at the opening of the RDA Orana office, Dubbo

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Speech at the opening of the RDA Orana office in Dubbo, NSW

13 May 2011 CS13/2011

It’s great to be back in Dubbo to mark the opening of the new RDA Orana offices.

You’ve done a magnificent job - and it’s a credit to your hard work that we’re here today.

Today, I’ve visited Dubbo Base Hospital and opened the new Dubbo Dental Clinic at Charles Sturt University - both great examples of the excellent health services in regional NSW.

But my visit to RDA (Regional Development Australia)-Orana is an opportunity to meet the local people who are working hard to drive growth and development across this vibrant and important region.

Our Government believes that strong, local economies underpin a strong, national economy.

But with Australia’s national economy in transition, Labor’s longstanding commitment to the regions has never been more important.

We want to ensure each region - each part of our patchwork economy - can reach its full potential.

And the best way to do that is to enable regions to broaden your economic base.

The question we face is this: How do we help communities deal with an economy in transition?

The answer? Identify their unique strengths and opportunities and provide the national policies and programs that will drive local solutions.

The key is to look at each region through your eyes, the local lens - and that’s where RDA committees and the people and organisations you work with become vitally important.


This week’s Budget put regional Australia front and centre.

It’s a strong, targeted Budget aimed squarely at driving growth and sustainability across our regions.

In headline terms, it contained over $4.3 billion in new investments for regions across the country but most importantly, the Budget contained the programs and mechanisms that your communities need to find local solutions to local issues. The highlights include:

 $500 million for regional higher education and vocational education and training institutions.  A $558 million National Workforce Development Fund - which will ensure training investment is industry-led and addresses the needs of regional areas.  $916 million for the first projects under the Regional Infrastructure Fund.  Extending the highly successful Priority Employment Area Strategy - allowing Local

Employment Coordinators to continue their work in areas doing it tough.  And an extra $20.3 million for RDAs to make sure you have the resources needed to advance the interests of your regions.


We’re also delivering $11.5 million for a new Promoting Regional Living program based on the highly successful EvoCities model.

As you know, Dubbo was one of the seven EvoCities.

We provided $1.7 million towards the EvoCities campaign because it was a strong example of what can be achieved when the federal, state, local governments and the private sector worked together.

We backed EvoCities because it stacked up: it made good economic sense and brought people to regional Australia ... driving growth now and well into the future.

Around 200 people have now considered moving to one of the seven EvoCities - with another 400 indicating they could move in the next 12 months.

The only reason the new Promoting Regional Living program exists is because Dubbo and your fellow EvoCities had the initiative to work together for the best possible joint outcome.

Dubbo and the other cities are now ahead of the game - you have a competitive edge.

EvoCities is one of the best examples of joining the dots across regions that I’ve seen.

It also demonstrates that if you engage across all three levels of government, if you identify where you want to be in 20 years, if you involve the private sector and work across portfolios you’ll develop programs that will set you up for the future and gain Federal Government backing.


Your region is the largest and most diverse in the State.

You have a population of over 100,000 people and encompass 13 Local Government areas ... with over 1.2 million people visiting the Orana region each year.

Your region has a strong future ... and RDA Orana ... along with the many other people here today ... are in a position to play a leading in the region’s economic growth and prosperity.


For example, we’ve been working closely with John Walkom and the RDA on the Murray Darling Basin.

Orana and the other communities in the Murray Darling Basin understand that it’s not just about returning water to the system ... you’re taking the region forward and strengthening the base on which your traditional economy can do better with more.

It’s a great example of a place-based approach now that will achieve long-term results for the future.

I often talk about joining the dots, but what do I mean?

As I said earlier, the Budget contains strong new investment as well as opportunities to work across national programs to deliver strong local outcomes.

You need to ask yourselves:

 Where does the potential in your region exist and what can you do to drive it?  Is it through the NBN, with e-health and e-commerce?  Can your project attract funding from other places, not just state or commonwealth?  What infrastructure do you need to grow?

For examples, I know your region is experiencing a skills shortage with doctors and medical professionals are needed in the smaller, remote centres. Skilled tradespeople such as engineers are in short supply in the mining areas.

The Federal Budget laid the foundation for regions like your’s to tackle the skills shortage by combining a number of initiatives to get a strategic, integrated solution.

 You can work closely with the Education, Skills and Jobs Coordinators;  Consult with Infrastructure Australia to build nationally significant infrastructure;  Focus on regional skilled migration - so employers know which programs can fill vacancies;

 And continue your work on well-researched projects through our $1 billion Regional Development Australia Fund.


RDA Orana has already identified four key priority areas of regional growth, leadership and innovation, government services to region and community.

A few years ago, John Walkom said businesses were the main cogs that drove this region.

John also went on to say that community was also critical: “It’s very important that a community has good businesses” - he said - “and that businesses have a good community.”

I couldn’t agree more.


Today is about saying we value the valuable contribution you are making now - and the difference you can make in the years ahead.

New South Wales has huge potential, and RDA Orana is critical to it’s growth and development.

Great progress has been made. The challenge now is to identify the right priorities and projects to broaden your economic base.

This will enable you to become even stronger and more sustainable ... and that’s good for your region, and good for the nation.

You are all passionate local champions and advocates for your regions.

You give up your time and energy to work tirelessly for your communities - and we greatly value your contribution.

Our Government does not believe in a top-down one-size-fits-all-approach - and we will continue to work with you to develop the strategic, placed-based solutions that will secure your future.