After more than three years of regional policy failure, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his Deputy Barnaby Joyce plan to contract out regional policy to the Productivity Commission.
In a classic case of ‘when you have done nothing and have no ideas, outsource the work to an external body’, Turnbull and Joyce have run up the white flag on rural and regional policy, essentially admitting that their dams policy and pork barrel decentralisation is not working for rural and regional Australia.
They shouldn’t need a Productivity Commission inquiry to tell them they have been on the wrong track. There are numerous reports telling them that, but they have been ignored by Government.
Turnbull’s second rate copper based National Broadband Network (NBN) is failing regional Australian with inferior services that stifle growth and threaten business owners’ livelihoods.
The regions have been further hurt by cuts to health and education which disadvantage everyday Australians.
Centrelink funding cuts are having an appalling impact on pensioners, carers, people assisting their elderly parents, disability pensioners, students and the unemployed. Their struggles are amplified in the regions.
The Government has also cut infrastructure investment across the nation at a time when investment is particularly needed in the regions to support jobs and economic growth.
In the 2015-16 Financial Year, the Government invested $5.5 billion in infrastructure, underspending it’s $8 billion budget by $2.5 billion.
If Turnbull and Joyce were serious about regional and rural Australia they would commit to ongoing funding for the Regional Australia Institute so the regions could receive ongoing, evidence based policy.
This Government has lied about health funding, lied about education funding, lied about cutting the pension and have lied about the NBN.
The Government’s Budget cuts in the 2014 Budget and since have hit the regions hardest. We can’t wait for a Productivity Commission review; we need to invest in job-creating economic infrastructure now.