The Turnbull Government’s new regional taskforce gathered for the first time in Canberra yesterday to discuss how the government will bridge the gap between city and regional areas in various sectors.
With Minister for Regional Development Fiona Nash serving as Deputy Chair, the taskforce was developed for the purpose of creating long-term investment strategies aimed at growing regional Australia’s health, education, transport, telecommunications, employment opportunities, and agricultural sectors.
With the addition of Prime Minister Turnbull, the board consists of eight cabinet members including Minister for Trade, Industry Innovation and Science Arthur Sinodinos, as well as Agricultural Minister and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.
Opening the meeting, Turnbull highlighted that although a number of regional areas are successfully dealing with the decline of traditional manufacturing, many remain struggling.
“Others are doing it tough; as the mining boom, in particular, has wound down, as the construction boom has wound down, we have not yet seen new investment to pick up the slack,” said Turnbull.
“Everything we’re doing has got to ensure that every part of Australia benefits from the economic growth and the rising tide lifts all boats.”
Discussing the meeting, Senator Nash told the ABC that enabling high quality tertiary education in regional areas to encourage students to remain local was a key point that the taskforce examined while looking at ways to help rural businesses flourish.
“A lot of our city students have the opportunity when they’re living in a metropolitan area to live at home and attend university. A lot of our regional students don’t, so they will be the types of things we’re discussing,” said Nash.
“What we need to do is give business out in rural and regional areas the confidence in their future so they’re investing in their businesses so they’re employing more people, so they’re employing more local tradespeople to expand their business.”
Nash added that boosting rural education offers an actionable solution to spurring the development of new regional businesses and employment opportunities, as simply pledging to create jobs “doesn’t actually do anything”.
“It’s very much about long-term planning and looking at the future of rural and regional communities and how we want them to look over coming years and decades,” she said.
Although improving education was in the spotlight, Nash acknowledged that a number of other “challenges”, particularly regarding health services, are still rampant in regional communities and require action by the taskforce.
The taskforce meeting follows the launch of the Get out of City campaign earlier this month, with a website which looking to collect submissions on the issue of decentralisation from everyday regional Australians.
Helmed by Joyce, the website aims to fuel discussions around and decentralisation and gain first-hand insight into the need for skilled jobs within regional communities.
Image: Regional Taskforce. Source: CourierMail.