It’s crunch time for the Turnbull Government’s decentralisation policy as it reaches the deadline set by its own Minister for Regional Development.
In May 2017, the then Minister for Regional Development said of the Government’s decentralisation plan that “a proper planning process means the moves would begin next financial year and so money would be allocated in next year’s budget.”
Well, 12 months on and the test is clear – will the Government put its money where its mouth is; or is this yet another empty promise from a Government that talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk?
For more than a year, Coalition Ministers have been spruiking the Government’s policy across regional Australia but have failed to release any detailed plans or business cases.
All the while, they continue to cut regional jobs, outsource government services and push more and more Commonwealth employees onto casual contracts. The Coalition have cut more than 800 ongoing public service roles from across regional Australia since 2014.
The fact is the Government has raised serious expectations with its decentralisation agenda. Expectations which Councils and regional development bodies have met by developing plans and bids to house government departments in their region.
If the Government is serious about its decentralisation policy then it’s time they start to deliver on their rhetoric, stop the regional job cuts and put money in the Budget to fund their agenda. Anything less than that will be a clear signal to regional Australia that this is just another empty promise from a Government which has run out of ideas and is running out of steam.