Nationals Senate Deputy Leader Fiona Nash
Flagship $11 M Gillard Government Program To Encourage Move To The Regions Disappears Into Thin Air, Senate Estimates Reveals
Victor P Taffa
The Federal Government has quietly axed its own program to encourage city people to move to the regions, department officials admitted to Nationals Senate Deputy Leader Fiona Nash during a Senate Estimates hearing on Thursday morning, in a blatant cash grab to try to shore up the budget.
“This is extraordinary. The Government announced the Promoting Regional Living program with great fanfare only 12 months ago.” Senator Nash said.
“Groups of regional councils will be able to apply for grants of up to $1 Million so that people living in capital cities could be aware of the lifestyle on offer in the regions.” Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean trumpeted at the time.
“This will build on the Government’s commitment to build more affordable homes in regional cities to relieve pressure on major capital cities,” the Government still boasts on the departmental website.
However Senator Nash said there had not been a single application for the program because the Government never bothered to develop guidelines or advertise the program.
“Department officials told the senate committee the government had decided not to pursue the program and had redirected the funds to other regional programs, although they were not able to say which ones.” Senator Nash said.
“This was a rare good initiative from a Government that otherwise neglects regional Australia, yet like the pink batts this has become another policy mess from the government.”
“Local councils will rightly be furious when they realise they’ve been kicked in the teeth by this hopeless Labor government.” Senator Nash said.