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  • John McDonnell

Regions Rising conference: Labor supports regionalisation

Labor’s spokesperson infrastructure, decentralisation and local government, Catherine King, addressed Wednesday's final session of the Regions Rising conference. She argued that the last time Australia had a coherent regional development policy was under Labor’s Rudd/Gillard government.

Ms King said that the national conference of the party will outline a new policy later this year. Regional development needs a new architecture that includes local government in its design. Labor will bring back Regional Development Australia. This will forge new links between the commonwealth and local governments.

There needs to be more commonwealth government investment in the regions, that has as its aim sustainable development in the regions. There also

needs to be more investment across portfolios so that commonwealth expenditure can be leveraged to promote stronger regional growth.

At the same time, it has to be recognised that different regions need different investments. Ms King says she worries at the fact that rural development has been captured by the National party. She says that regional development needs a diversity of views not just the view of the Nats.

She said the influx of tree changers will change the way regions need to govern because the evacuees will be more demanding when it comes to the provision of services. She said that the old Nationals policy of laissez-faire won’t cut it.

FlowNews24 asked Ms King what she meant by diversified purposeful regionalisation. How would this work in a one industry town? She said it meant planning for disruptions that were likely to occur such as the closure of coal fired power stations in the La Trobe valley.

However she neglected to say what sort of plans she would promote or how they would work.


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