The Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP
Acting Prime Minister
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources
The first public hearing of the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee looking into the Coalition Government’s decentralisation policy kicks off today.
The Inquiry will take place in Australia’s capital, Canberra, with a second hearing to be held in Townsville before 9 May 2017, when the Committee is due to report its findings.
No additional hearings have been scheduled for other regional areas and none of the 85 councils and 28 regional development associations that made submissions were invited to attend the hearing in Canberra.
A Senate Committee inquiry into the decentralisation of jobs to regional Australia kicks off today, and despite 88 per cent of the published submissions to the inquiry supporting decentralisation, the first of just two hearings will be held in the capital city of Canberra.
Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said it was true to form the Labor controlled Senate Committee Inquiry, Chaired by a Labor Senator, would be based in the nation’s capital.
“It is positive the committee will meet in Townsville, a regional location with an established public service workforce, but there are many other locations that have made strong submissions to the inquiry that the committee could go to also,” Mr Joyce said.
“It is disappointing though to see that of the 85 councils and 28 regional development associations that made submissions, not one was invited to the Canberra hearing. Bendigo, Ballarat, Cessnock and Lake Macquarie councils all put in submissions supporting decentralisation, but have not been backed up by their local Labor members.
“The only option for the Shepparton Council to attend the Townsville hearing some 2,470 kms away is a full day of flying. The Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula Local Government Association would be looking at a similar journey and the WA shire of Narrogin is 5,100 kms or a 7 hour flight away.
“Meanwhile, the town of Armidale, which is at the centre of this debate, has been refused a hearing to present the community’s case on the benefits of moving government jobs to regional areas.
“The Nationals as part of the Coalition are true advocates for regional and rural communities and the sharing of public sector jobs will deliver long-term dividends to regional towns.
“Every dollar spent in country small businesses helps to create more jobs, higher wages and better confidence in regional Australia.
“This government is committed to boosting jobs and growth to strengthen the regional communities and to establish Centres of Agricultural Excellence in regional Australia.
“That is why the APVMA is relocating to Armidale and why the Murray Darling Basin Authority, the Grains Research and Development Corporation (RDC), Fisheries RDC and the Rural Industries RDC have all instituted moves to increase their regional presence.
"This inquiry is a rare chance for the Senate Committee to consider the pitches of regional communities for bringing well-paid, highly skilled Commonwealth jobs and career paths to their areas.”
The Finance and Public Administration Committee inquiry must report its findings by 9 May, 2017.
For more information regarding the Senate Committee inquiry and to browse the submissions please go to: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Finance_and_Public_Administration/PublicGovernance
The government’s 2016 election commitment was that it would proceed with the relocation of the APVMA to Armidale, create Centres of Excellence in Agriculture in regional areas and examine options to relocate other government agencies to regional towns and cities.
The Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee is holding two public forums—one in Canberra and one in Townsville—as part of its inquiry into the operation, effectiveness and consequences of relocating corporate Commonwealth entities, and the economic, environmental and capability implications of this.