Regional Development Vision
Australia desperately needs to address regional development in order to arrest the decrease in opportunity and to increase potential for jobs growth. Travel, water & communication infrastructure needs considerable and immediate attention. This will not only provide much needed employment for thousands of Australians at a time when unemployment is reaching historic highs, but will enable population decentralisation, easing pressure on property and rental prices, and having a direct, positive downward influence on the rates of poverty and homelessness, which is so diminishing our country and its people.
The development of an inland capital or major regional centre has the ability, not only to address the above issues, but also, as a result of the population redistribution, bring much needed attention and funding to regional and rural areas, bringing life back to many smaller towns who have lost their vibrancy and facilities after years of government neglect and population exodus.
The issue of water licences needs to be given serious attention. Commercial enterprises, including the very large farming interests like Cubbie Station, can no longer be given rights to contain and divert massive amounts of water from our river systems, denying our environment, wildlife, and towns and populations downstream of this essential life giving commodity – a fundamental right.
Farming practices and crop choices need to be seriously reconsidered – the continuation of growing crops unsuitable for our environment is a major contributor to the issues surrounding water supply, chemical contamination and environmental impact. Mining and resource ventures must be prevented from negatively impacting our water supplies. And infrastructure to begin moving water from areas prone to significant flooding events to areas who traditionally suffer from long term drought, needs to be developed.
Significant investment needs to be made into transport infrastructure, both road and rail, whilst additional manpower needs to put into running the NBN to regional areas immediately. We need to provide substantial tax incentives to businesses willing to relocate to regional & rural areas and who employ a minimum quota of locals.
The use of overseas workers' visas need to be immediately reassessed, with all visas not subject to reasonable market labour testing, immediately revoked. The intake of 457’s needs to be reduced and all but the most specialised of positions permanently removed from the visa application lists. Companies breaching worker’s rights and visa conditions must face hefty penalties.
Funding needs to be reinstated to apprenticeships and TAFE programs in order to skill our youth for the future, and half and full University Fee Rebates applied to professionals who locate themselves in regional and rural areas for minimum 3 and 5 year periods.
The government should be funding set rate low interest loans for families to purchase existing homes in regional areas currently suffering the effects of population exodus from both economic downturn and resources industry decline, whilst simultaneously committing to charging a vacancy levy on residential investment properties left vacant for more than 60 days of any year. The ability of non-citizens to purchase property in Australia needs to be immediately removed.
And finally, government sponsorship and investment into the development of industries and manufacturing surrounding hemp, bamboo and renewable energies needs immediate attention and any required approvals fast-tracked, in order to maximise opportunity for development and employment in these lucrative, sustainable and rapidly growing industries.
Additonal points to help develop and protect regional areas:
- A total ban on mining speculation CSG extraction & fracking on deemed farming land & National Parks/State Forests/Crown Land & land under native title; all city & residential areas.
- Further enquiry into banking/finance/insurance sectors with emphasis on how these institutions may be exploiting the regional & rural sectors and formulating solutions to provide best value to these customers, workers & the national interest.
- A full enquiry into the national road network including secondary rural roads & bridges with upgrading, replacement, maintenance & rectification to be funded and carried out as a priority at each level of government.
- A study into the feasibility of reopening previous rural, regional & suburban railway branch lines to fast track rural goods & take pressure off regional & suburban roads.
- Relocating government infrastructure or opening new branches in regional & rural centres to encourage movement into these areas with job security & facilities to enable growth & relieve pressures on cities. This must include Shopping centres, schools, TAFES, appropriate public transport & infrastructure/facilities, suitable commercial sites and additional incentives can be offered to immigrants to move to regions rather than major cities.
- More regional & rural services such as hospitals, doctors, educational facilities, sporting & entertainment venues including upgrading existing facilities and incentives to keep young people in the regional areas rather than move to cities to find work & opportunities not available in the regions.
- The removal of the fuel excise from fuel sold in regional centres as a way of helping low wage earners and to stimulate local economies.