Labor welcomes the Turnbull Government’s announcement that the Regional Growth Fund is open for applications.

This decision is long overdue after taking more than 280 days to finalise guidelines for the program. For too long, the Government has sat idle on the sideline distracted by its internal chaos and division.

Any investment in regional development is welcomed but there’s still a big gap between what the Liberal Nationals’ promise and what they deliver.

It’s time they get their act together and start standing up for regional communities left to bear the brunt of their internal conflicts.

If the Government wants to be taken seriously then they should put an end to their regional job cuts, after cutting more than 800 full-time public sector workers from across regional Australia; and put an end to higher education funding cuts which are undermining our regional universities.

The fact is they are giving with one hand and taking with another. With a 14 per cent gap in participation in higher education between regional Australia and our capital cities and higher unemployment across regional areas, the Government must rethink their disastrous cuts to jobs and funding.

It’s time Turnbull and the Liberal Nationals start living up to their rhetoric and stand up for regional Australia.