May 27, 2008

Address to the Australian Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation R

Address to the Australian Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation Rural Women’s Award 2008

The Great Hall: Parliament House

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Federal Member for Grayndler

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Thank you Michael.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen.

It’s a pleasure to be able to join you this evening for the presentation of the 2009 Rural Women’s Award.

I understand that this is only the third time that a national winner has been selected from the state and territory awards – so it is a real pleasure to be here in my first year as the Minister for Regional Development.

This prestigious national award celebrates the enormous contribution rural women make to our economy.

From an avocado grower living in the Glasshouse Mountains of Queensland to a timber producer near Katherine in the Northern Territory; from calf-rearing in Tasmania to running a native plant nursery in the hinterlands of Byron Bay – this year’s state and territory winners showcase the breadth and depth of the contribution rural women are making to the life of our nation.

In fact, the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation’s own research has found that regional women’s businesses generated more than $1.2 billion a year.

It is also estimated that women contribute to around half of real farm income when their on-farm work and their off-farm volunteer and community efforts are taken into account.

And we know that it is often women who have kept rural, regional – and many urban – communities and families together, particularly during times of drought and adversity.

Despite this, only around 20 per cent of agricultural decision-makers are women – a sad statistic that the Rural Women’s Award seeks to improve.

The Rudd Government is also committed to improving regional women’s participation in the national economy as well as their local communities.

At the end of June, my colleague, Minister Plibersek will host a Rural Women’s Summit with support from my department.

This Summit will look at opportunities for improving social and economic outcomes for rural women and increasing their participation in a range of policy areas, including agriculture and regional development.

I am also pleased to inform you that after that Summit, I will be reviewing the Regional Women’s Advisory Council in my portfolio and strengthening the role the body plays in terms of policy advice and development.

Of course, more broadly, the Rudd Government has established the Regional Development Australia network to better engage with regional communities, coordinate government policies affecting the regions and improve service delivery.

Having significant female representation in the network and its various committees will be a priority.

We will also be delivering our Better Regions election commitments to regional and local communities.

And from next year, we will have a new Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program to deliver investments in community infrastructure.

We are also dealing with infrastructure bottlenecks that are holding back regional economies.

In the Budget, we announced a $20 billion Building Australia Fund, a substantial down-payment on our commitment to fix and modernise the nation’s infrastructure.

This is on top of our road and rail commitments to regional Australia which total more than $10 billion.

So as you can see, we are determined to boost regional infrastructure, strengthen regional communities and help regional women and men make their contribution to our economy and society.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in closing, it’s a pleasure to be here for the 2008 Rural Women’s Award and the Government will work with you to improve rural women’s participation.

I wish all winners the best of luck in their future activities.