Shadow Minister for Regional Services Stephen Jones says that despite all the “big talk” last year, the Coalition’s decentralisation policy is a massive let down for regional cities.

In Senate Estimates current Minister for Decentralisation, Bridget McKenzie conceded that the government’s decentralisation policy is no longer about moving whole departments, contrary to what former Minister Fiona Nash first outlined:

In terms of those proposals in front of me for my consideration, and consideration of government, none of them include a whole department
Senator Bridget McKenzie - Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee, Monday, 22 October 2018

When it was announced by former Minister for Decentralisation, Fiona Nash in April last year, it promised to move entire departments to regional Australia.

“I'll be responsible for creating a template for government Ministers to assess which departments are suitable for decentralisation by mid-year. Departments will need to either indicate that they're suitable to move to the regions or justify why all or part of their operation is unsuitable. All portfolio Ministers will need to report back to Cabinet by August on which of their departments are suitable to be moved to regional Australia, and relevant Ministers will need to report to Cabinet with robust business cases for decentralisation by December.”
Senator Fiona Nash – National Press Club, Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The National Party’s flagship regional policy has failed to deliver at every step.
When the policy was first announced, it created high expectations in regional Australia – but the policy has been a massive let down.
So far, not even 100 public sector jobs have been earmarked for relocation under this policy.
Even worse, only 16 of the 98 jobs earmarked for decentralisation will go to a non-capital city and over 80 per cent of jobs will move from one capital city to another including:

  • 40 jobs to relocate from Canberra to Adelaide
  • 25 jobs to relocate the 20 kms from Sydney to Parramatta
  • 10 jobs to relocate from Canberra to Darwin

It’s the latest example that shows the Morrison Government’s plans for decentralisation lack any substance.
Minister McKenzie says she’s hoping to make more announcements in the near future, but the Government’s track record means regional Australia shouldn’t hold its breath.