Media Release: Nationals No Talk and No Action on Decentralisation

9.00am | May 20, 2017

The Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee sat in Townsville yesterday to hear evidence about regional public service jobs as part of our inquiry into the move of the APVMA.

We spoke to 13 councils from across Australia, 12 more than Barnaby Joyce spoke to before deciding to move the APVMA and its 150 jobs to his own electorate during a tight election campaign.

The evidence we heard was nearly unanimous:

  • all wanted a further, broad inquiry into decentralisation,
  • all supported policy based decision making rather than agencies or departments being moved on a minister's whim,
  • none had been contacted by the government in connection with its new decentralisation plan.

The government's attitude towards decentralisation was made clear by its budget - tens of millions of dollars to move jobs to Barnaby Joyce's electorate, no money for any broader decentralisation agenda, and public sector job cuts that will probably hit the regions hard.

This country values the public sector more than this government does - every council we spoke to wanted public service jobs for their community. They shouldn't have to petition ministers for favours though. As a witness from Townsville said this morning:

"Transparency is extremely important to the community to provide confidence that we are doing the right thing”

The community can't have that confidence in Barnaby Joyce's decisions. The Nationals should back Cathy McGowan's proposal for a broad inquiry into decentralisation as a first step to rebuilding that trust.

SATURDAY, 20 May 2017