Paterson MP Meryl Swanson has warned that the Australian Government must take a strategic approach as it works to increase the growth and prosperity of rural and regional Australia.
Ms Swanson is Deputy Chair of the Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation, which last week tabled itsr report: “Regions at the Ready: Investing in Australia’s Future”, in Parliament House in Canberra.
She made the remarks during her address to the House of Representatives.
Ms Swanson emphasised that decentralisation was in itself not enough. She urged the Government, in all its considerations on regional development policy, to adopt the Select Committee’s recommended 12 principles.
“It’s not good enough to lift up a Government department or other public agency and shift it to a regional community hundreds of kilometres away,” Ms Swanson said.
“These agencies need to be a good fit for the location, and they should act as a catalyst for broader social and economic change.”
Ms Swanson called on Australians to drop the erroneous perception that a life in a rural or regional environment was in some way ‘second rate’.
“I am the product of a rural and regional environment, and I know first-hand what sustainable, vibrant and enjoyable places they can be to live, work and raise a family.”
Moving forward, the Select Committee has recommended that the Government establish a Joint Standing Committee to examine, assess and offer recommendations on issues that rural and regional Australians face.
Ms Swanson said she had been honoured to serve as Deputy Chair of the committee and was grateful to have had the chance to chair the Hunter hearing in November, 2017.
“Thank you to all who shared with the committee your thoughts, your experiences, your expertise, and your passion for regional Australia,” Ms Swanson said.
“It was critical to hear from representatives of Australia’s largest regional area – the Hunter.
“The report has been well-received and widely hailed as a strong, bipartisan piece of work that should form the basis of future policy.”
Article: The Conversation