Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed says more government agencies and departments should be located in rural cities and towns.
“While Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong have been successful in attracting agencies to their cities it should be remembered, there has also been a tendency to relocate regional offices back to Melbourne,” Ms Sheed said.
She said the shift of such organisations to metropolitan areas over the years, left great holes in local communities. It’s as a Bill was introduced in Parliament last week, finalising aspects of the sale of the Rural Finance Corporation to Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.
Ms Sheed said she supported the Bill, but with a heavy heart, as she reflected on the history of the Rural Finance Corporation and its predecessors, dating back to Soldier Settlement schemes post-World War II.
“The Rural Finance Corporation has now been subsumed into the Bendigo Bank and eventually, what was once a great and independent organisation in regional Victoria, will become distant memory,” she said.
“It’s actions such as this, which bleed our towns of major organisations.
“Once, governments were committed to departments being located in regional areas.
“We used to have large research institutes at Tatura and Kyabram.
“We used to have people on our state borders, protecting us from fruit fly entering Victoria. All of that is gone.
That means jobs are going as well, so our communities are being depleted of skilled workers,” Ms Sheed said.
“This tendency must be turned around. For instance organisations such as Parks Victoria and VicRoads could well be located in Shepparton,” Ms Sheed said.
In speaking on the Rural Assistance Scheme Bill, Ms Sheed encouraged the Andrews Labor Government to honour a commitment made by the then Napthine Government, to use the proceeds of the sale to invest in rural and regional infrastructure.
“While $220mill has been set aside for the Murray Basin Rail project, there is still plenty of money available out of the proceeds, and there is a great opportunity to invest in the Shepparton District electorate. That includes the need for a Goulburn Valley Highway bypass and new rail infrastructure,” Ms Sheed said.
Sueanne McCumstie 0428 743 880│email@example.com