Jun 15, 2010

Nationals turn their back on regional Australia… again

Nationals turn their back on regional Australia… again

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

June 15 2010

The National Party’s endorsement of Tony Abbott’s comments dismissing the Rudd Labor Government’s $6 billion Regional Infrastructure Fund as unnecessary and should be scrapped, is a betrayal of the promises they’ve given to regional communities.

In recent months, Nationals Leader Warren Truss and his Shadow Infrastructure Minister Senator Barnaby Joyce have been visiting regional communities promising them better infrastructure and a “guaranteed” fair share of the nation’s prosperity – see attachment.

Even as recently as yesterday, Mr Truss responded to question about his party’s upcoming national conference by saying:

“…we’ll be talking … about the need for a new government to respond better to the problems in the regions; to make sure that regional Australia gets a fair share of our nation’s growth and development so that all Australians can participate in the good things that our nation has to offer. Much of our nation’s wealth is produced in the regions; we want a fair share of that returned to the regions.”

Doorstop, Parliament House, 14/06/10

Given this and the many other similar statements from National Party politicians, why then are they now opposing the Regional Infrastructure Fund and its guarantee of extra funding for infrastructure in regional communities, particularly those that support our mining industry?

There are only three possible explanations: either Mr Truss and Senator Joyce have been making promises they had no intention of honouring or have again been rolled by the Liberals or have become so bloody-minded in their efforts to thwart everything this Government does they’re now even sabotaging policies which in the past they had advocated?

Whichever it was, the Nationals have again turned their back on regional communities, a continuation of what they did during their twelve years in government and one reason they currently hold the smallest number of regional electorates in the Parliament.

The Rudd Labor Government’s Regional Infrastructure Fund will help build a stronger economy which delivers a fairer share to all Australians, and is in addition to the unprecedented $37 billion we’re already investing in the nation’s road, rail and port infrastructure.