Minister Comments On Grattan Institute Report

Minister Comments On Grattan Institute Report

Victoria Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan

Statement Regarding The Grattan Institute Report – Investing In Regions: Making A Difference

Victor P Taffa

The Minister for Regional and Rural Development has asked his department to carefully review the Grattan Institute Report Investing in regions: Making a difference.

Comments in the report, particularly regarding regional universities, require further scrutiny. The report identifies major issues with poor transition of regional students to tertiary study.

The Coalition Government is a strong supporter of regional universities, as demonstrated by the government’s investment in student accommodation of $10.2 Million for Deakin University and $5 Million for the University of Ballarat.

The Coalition Government has also committed $20 Million for a Regional Partnerships Facilitation Fund to support regional universities and VET providers to work together to increase tertiary education participation rates.

The report also overlooks the financial challenges faced by small sparsely-populated rural councils. The Grattan Institute argues that more funding needs to be provided to councils with rapidly-growing populations.

This is a valid argument but the Coalition Government believes this should be balanced with supporting the needs of the small rural shires. The risks to the financial sustainability of small rural shires were recently highlighted by the release of the Whelan Report.

The Grattan Institute Report also appears to take a relatively narrow view of regional development policy. Economic and social disadvantage in regional Victoria was recognised in the Victorian parliament’s Rural and Regional Committee Inquiry into the extent and nature of disadvantage and inequity in rural and regional Victoria. An important objective of the government’s regional development policy is directed towards addressing this disadvantage.

The Coalition Government is committed to supporting growth in regional cities and country communities. This is achieved in part by improving services and facilities and boosting infrastructure in country towns to create new industry and new jobs.

The Coalition Government’s $1 Billion Regional Growth Fund reflects and embraces regional and rural priorities as part of the Coalition Government’s commitment to build a better future in regional and rural Victoria.