PRIME Minister Julia Gillard’s failure to promote any MPs or senators from regional Australia to Cabinet in her latest reshuffle means residents from regional Australia will continue to suffer right up until election day.
The Cabinet table is where the big decisions affecting regional Australia are made, yet every one of the 21 Labor minsters around that table comes from a capital city.
They have little interest in and no understanding of regional Australia and that is why government policies most important to the regions are such a mess.
In agriculture we have had the live exports fiasco; regional development was supposed to get $573million from the mining tax which has raised zero dollars; in transport we have seen billions ripped out of the Pacific Highway upgrade; and in water policy there are random multimillion dollar buybacks.
The Minister for Agriculture, Senator Ludwig, is a former union leader from Brisbane; the Minister for Regional Australia, Mr Crean, is a former union leader from Melbourne; and the Ministers for Water and Transport, Mr Burke and Mr Albanese are both from Sydney. They simply don’t understand regional Australia.
In the Coalition, key portfolios like those are represented by people from regional Australia, like Warren Truss and Barnaby Joyce in regional Queensland and John Cobb in regional New South Wales.
That is why we will deliver where Labor has failed: we understand regional Australia because we are from regional Australia.
In my own portfolio area of regional education, trying to convince Perth-based Tertiary Education Minister Senator Evans to provide equity and fairness to regional students has been like banging my head against a brick wall, and I’m expecting more of the same from new Tertiary Education Minister, Chris Bowen, who is a Sydneysider.