The Regional and Rural Committee’s latest report is unnecessarily negative and talks down rural and regional Victoria, say the Labor members of the Committee.
The report on the committee’s inquiry in to The Extent and Nature of Disadvantage and Inequity in Rural and Regional Victoria was tabled in parliament today.
Labor MPs on the committee, deputy chair and Member for Western Region Gayle Tierney, Member for Northern Victoria Kaye Darveniza and Member for Melton Don Nardella submitted a minority report highlighting their concerns about the inquiry’s negative terms of references.
Ms Tierney said the Brumby Government recognised there was always more work that could be done to address issues surrounding rural and regional social disadvantage.
“Most of the recommendations made in the committee’s report about tackling disadvantage are already being addressed through a range of Brumby Government initiatives,” Ms Tierney said.
“Therefore, we’re not opposing the bulk of the recommendations. However, we do have real concerns about the inquiry’s negative terms of reference.”
Ms Tierney said that during the public hearings held across regional and rural Victoria the committee heard many inspiring stories of initiatives developed and implemented by local communities that were bringing about real change and helping break the cycle of disadvantage.
“There were many examples of programs and partnerships, such as BestStart, Neighbourhood Renewal, Transport Connections – the list goes on – that are clearly making a difference to rural and regional communities’ health, education and social outcomes,” she said.
“Unfortunately, instead of learning more about which programs were working, which ones perhaps needed more support, and how successful initiatives could then be adapted and used in other communities, all the Liberal-National dominated committee members wanted to hear was what was wrong with these communities and – ultimately – talk down regional and rural Victoria.”
Ms Tierney said the inquiry’s terms of reference also failed to acknowledge the well-established State Government initiatives already in place that benefited rural Victoria including A Fairer Victoria, its overarching action plan for addressing social disadvantage and its $631 million rural regional blueprint Ready for Tomorrow.
Ms Tierney said the Brumby Government’s willingness to work with regional and rural communities had paid off: during the past decade, more than 120,000 new regional jobs had been created; regional population had grown strongly; the State Government had facilitated more than $11.7 billion in new investments; and more than $1.6 billion had been invested in the past four years to regional health, education and job-creating infrastructure.