- From page 1
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack says the Federal Government is working to ensure regional areas such as Goulburn have better infrastructure and services going into the future.
Mr McCormack made the comments while he was in Goulburn on Wednesday for the launch of a national rural road safety campaign.
While here, he also spoke to the Goulburn Post about the recent announcement by Coles to close its Ducks Lane facility by 2023, with a possible loss of more than 250 jobs. He said there was time for the community to prepare.
“The Coles centre has been proposed to close up here by 2023, so there is a bit of time to adjust and for the community to make preparations as to what might happen after that,” Mr McCormack said.
“I know all too well that when these large employers close they usually do so that at the drop of a hat and it is a huge impost on the community, so at least Coles has put a forward plan in place here.
“If they carry it out, they have given the community five years’ lead time to do so.”
He said the National Party, in a federal Coalition with the Liberals, had a plan for decentralisation to assist regional areas.
“We are ensuring that we build better country roads and regional capital such that we are looking at how we can build better communities,” he said.
“That's why we have the Building Better Regions Fund in place and the latest Round (Three) has $200 million on offer to build the sort of infrastructure and capacity to help centres, just like Goulburn.
“Your local member, Angus Taylor, is doing an outstanding job to ensure that Goulburn gets its fair share of this funding. As Regional Development Minister, I will be working with Angus Taylor to see what we can do for the Hume electorate and the Goulburn community.”
Mr McCormack said the focus of the Federal Government was job creation.
“Job creation is [Mr Taylor’s] focus and we are neighbouring MPs and both Cabinet members, so we are committed to making sure that jobs are created in the bush,” Mr McCormack said.
Mr McCormack also commented on the idea of assisting migration to regional areas for new migrants.
This topic has been broached by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian in the national media this week.
Ms Berejiklian called for a 50 percent reduction to the state’s overseas migrant intake, saying Sydney was straining under the pressure of rapid population growth.
Mr McCormack said new migrants were welcome in the bush.
“We would assist this in a targeted and strategic way,” Mr McCormack said.
“I know when Wagga Wagga took on board 55 Yazidi families that were fleeing religious and political persecution from a war-torn country, they were blended into the community in such a way that they didn't take jobs but were filling jobs that could not be filled otherwise, or where not there before.
“Goulburn is no different to Wagga Wagga in that regard. They will open and warmly embrace people, particularly, with skills and even many who don't have skills, but who want to participate in a community
“That's what country communities do.
“We are not going to send migrants to the regions so they can live in enclaves and don’t have to work, so they can live off welfare.
"We want to make sure our migration program is targeted, specific and strategic.
“We don't want to foist migrants who do not want to work or participate on a country community. We would not do that.
“It will be a sensible policy bringing migrants to communities willing to embrace them and we will do this in a sensible, practical way.”
- See Page 6 for Member for Goulburn Pru Goward’s response to the Coles closure.