GIVE REGIONS A FAIR GO: Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce at the roundabout at the Fiveways during his visit to Gympie this week.
GIVE REGIONS A FAIR GO: Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce at the roundabout at the Fiveways during his visit to Gympie this week. Renee Albrecht

Barnaby Joyce throws support behind Fair Go campaign

DEPUTY Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has thrown his support behind the Fair Go for regional Australia campaign and promised a symposium of dairy industry representatives after the Federal election.

"We applaud the Fair Go for Regional Australia campaign and welcome a renewed focus on the people, communities and industries of regional Australia that provide so much for our nation," Mr Joyce told The Gympie Times this week.

"The Fair Go for Regional Australia campaign is a very welcome addition to our cause.

"Yes, there is a disparity between the capital cities and our regions, and that is why as Leader of The Nationals and Deputy Prime Minister, my driving purpose is to deliver better services and facilities for regional communities and keep them at the forefront of government decision making."

Mr Joyce said the Nationals were the only political party with the sole purpose of representing and delivering for Australia's rural, regional and remote communities "which are amongst the poorest in the nation".

"It is a fact that services and facilities in regional communities lag behind those in major cities, and that's why in this government, The Nationals hold the key ministries of Agriculture, Infrastructure, Regional Development, Regional Communications, Rural Health and Northern Australia.

"These are the areas where we can make a big difference to the families of regional Australia.

"Our focus - day in, day out - is getting them a better deal in terms of roads, mobile and internet coverage, health care, economic opportunities and, most importantly, jobs.

"We are also working hard on making a stronger connection between the wealth hotspot of our geographic region - South East Asia - and the Australian farmgate through new free trade agreements with China, Japan and Korea, which will open up lucrative opportunities for people in the regions.

"Nothing attracts people to living in a region like being able to earn money and we want to give people in the regions a real sense of opportunity in their own backyards."

Mr Joyce said the federal election campaign painted a clear picture of the future The Nationals' wanted for regional Australia and was something of a roadmap for how they would go about creating it.

"In Wide Bay this includes funding for the Bruce Hwy, with almost $2 billion being invested in the region on a faster, safer highway that is providing local jobs during the construction phase and will bring lasting economic benefits into the future," he said.

"The Coalition has also allocated $5 million to Gympie's new aquatic centre which will be a focal point of new activity in the region.

"We are also delivering $548,250 to upgrade the Pavilion at the Gympie Showgrounds, as well as local Green Army projects that provide young people with skills and experience. 

"We do not support Labor's plans to bring back the carbon tax and shut down job creating primary industries. 

Mr Joyce said that as a Gympie local and strong advocate for the region, Llew O'Brien was right behind local projects, including getting the Mary Valley Rattler rolling again and revitalising Mary St.

"He's in there highlighting the needs of the region and working with his Coalition colleagues to build a better future for local families and businesses."

In terms of the plight of the Queensland dairy industry, Mr Joyce said the Coalition Government had acted quickly during the caretaker period to deliver an assistance package for dairy farmers who have had their farm gate milk prices slashed retrospectively by Murray-Goulburn and Fonterra.

"The circumstances facing Queensland dairy farmers are different to those facing southern Australian producers, however the Coalition has delivered a number of measures to support Queensland dairy farmers," he said.

These include:

  • strengthening Farm Management Deposits, including doubling the deposit cap and allowing FMDs to be used as farm business loan offsets;
  • accelerated depreciation for fencing, water reticulation and fodder storage; and
  • the establishment of a specialist unit within the ACCC and appointment of an ACCC Agricultural Commissioner, Mick Keogh.

A spokesman for Mr Joyce said that in this term of government alone, the Coalition's regional and rural achievements included:

  • developing the $4 billion Agricultural White paper,
  • the $5 billion Northern Australia White paper, which includes $600 million for key roads in northern Australia,
  • our $2.5 billion water infrastructure plan,
  • the $220 million we are investing in fixing mobile telephone black spots,
  • overhauling Australia's food labelling system to allow consumers to easily choose Australian grown produce,
  • three new free trade agreements with China, Korea and Japan - all of which benefit regional Australian economies and Australian farmers,
  • allocating $2.4 billion to rural and regional areas in the Roads to Recovery program,
  • $300 million for the Bridges to Renewal program,
  • $500 million for the (road) Black Spots program with at least 50% of the funding directed towards regional roads,
  • $214 million for the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program,
  • $100 million for Beef Roads,
  • implementation of three different policies to improve access to doctors in the bush - including redirecting $50 million from incentives paid to doctors practising in cities to increase incentives for doctors practicing in rural Australia,
  • an overhaul of the Youth Allowance system to make it easier for rural students to access university.


Gympie Times

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