Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie today met with the Mayor of Indigo Shire, Jenny O’Connor in the first of a series of meetings with Councils on the government’s decentralisation agenda. Regional cities are often seen as the only beneficiaries of a decentralisation agenda. However this is not that case and today highlighted that all can benefit from the right policy settings.
“My work in the Senate has highlighted just how vital decentralisation is to local communities and Regional Councils in return are overwhelmingly in favour of decentralisation. “Each area has a strategic advantage, and for people to re-locate from the city to the country there has to a access to public and private sector employment.
“One of the things government can do is to assist local Councils to value add to the strategy of getting Commonwealth agencies and offices to the regionals. “But government jobs are not the only solution. I am interested in the way local communities build on their strengths to attract private sector investment.
“The government’s focus on trade and its diverse benefits means an area like Indigo is uniquely placed to benefit with a skilled food processing population and natural advantages in food production- bringing more jobs and opportunities. “Areas like Chiltern will benefit as families can see the real benefits of living in a small country town, with its fresh air, lack of traffic jams and good educational opportunities.
“They also benefit in being able to purchase a house at a fraction of the price of a city or regional centre. “For instance in Melbourne the average price of a house is approaching $1 million, in Wodonga, it’s much more attractive at $375,000 and in Chiltern that drops to an average of $230,000.
“So while re-located staff from commonwealth agencies and offices would be located in the regional cities, they can live in a very attractive town like Chiltern which is just 20 minutes from Wodonga,” Senator McKenzie said.
“My meeting with Mayor O’Connor was most instructive and I have written to all local councils in Victoria suggesting similar meetings to gain their ideas on how a decentralisation program can work.
“I really look forward to their response and input which I will pass on to the Minister for Regional Development, Senator Fiona Nash,” Senator McKenzie said.
All Cabinet Ministers have been asked to identify agencies or sections of Departments which they consider suitable for decentralisation.
That information will then be considered by Cabinet with agencies and business units deemed suitable for decentralisation included in next year’s Budget.
Media Contact: Russ Street