Member for Paterson Meryl Swanson has been appointed deputy chair of a new bipartisan Federal Government committee that will look at the pros and cons of moving Government departments from Canberra to the regions.

 “I believe the regions are really important to Australia, and I’m pleased to have been appointed to this role,” Ms Swanson said.

“As Federal Parliamentarians, we have a responsibility to make sure regional and rural areas and their communities are not left out in our nation’s planning.

“Moving government departments from Canberra to the regions may be part of the way forward to boost our regions, or it may not. That is what our committee will investigate.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what has happened elsewhere, and hearing what experts and locals think about the idea.”

But even if decentralisation of departments is a good idea, it is important that the Government supports the regions in other, more fundamental, ways, Ms Swanson said.

“Making sure Centrelink offices are staffed properly is a good start, and sorting out the second-rate national broadband network is also a priority.  And healthcare and education are, of course, important.”

Ms Swanson said the committee would examine the costs as well as the benefit of moving departments to the regions “as decentralisation is not an economic policy on its own”.

The committee held its first meetings this week. It will produce as issues paper in August, an interim report in December and a final report in February.