Labor-Greens-Independents fail regional communities
The Green-Labor-Independent government has failed to establish a genuine partnership with Regional Australia.
Last year Labor announced $200 million in regional development funding in a politically-motivated, non-strategic way. Two thirds of the funding went to the one third of regional seats held by Labor and Independents.
Worse, the best ideas from regional Australia were not listened to. Over 550 applications were received under the Regional Development Australia fund but less than 10 per cent were funded. The average grant was over $4 million.
Big ticket football stadiums were preferred over a stock transit centre in Broken Hill, removing asbestos from a childcare facility near Ballarat and a centre to help people with disabilities in Stanthorpe. Indeed, in Queensland no town west of the Great Dividing Range received funding.
The Coalition wants to reinvest in a genuine partnership between regional Australia and Canberra. Local communities know more than bureaucrats in Canberra about what is important in their areas, but that is not how Labor has designed its regional spending programs.
As the Australian Financial Review has reported this morning, I have written to all local governments to ask how they think regional development spending initiatives can be improved.
I also invite anyone else who has ideas to improve the current way of doing things to write to me.
Queensland Senator Barnaby Joyce is the Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Water and Leader of the Nationals in the Senate.