National Party group photo with leader Hon Barnaby Joyce and Deputy Sen Fiona Nash. Parliament House, Canberra 15 March 2016.File No Nationals_Joyce_160102. Image David Foote-AUSPIC/DPS


  • National leaders Joyce and Nash welcome PC study into regional economies
  • This complements the huge amount of work and investment already being made in regional Australia
  • Australia’s cities exist because of its regions and their economic contribution

Leader of the Nationals, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Deputy Leader of the Nationals, Regional Development Minister and Deputy Nationals Leader Fiona Nash have welcomed a Productivity Commission study into regional economies.

“The new initiative would complement the many initiatives already in place or being rolled out to continue to grow and diversify regional economies,” the Ministers said.

Minister Joyce said it shows the role the Nationals have in Government to develop, decentralise and drive growth in regional Australia.

“I hope the Productivity Commission shoots a few sacred cows, for instance – should frogs stop the development of dams in regional Australia?

“The Nationals have been driving an agenda to empower the regions, which are the engine room of the Australian economy.”

Minister Nash said Australia’s cities exist because of the regions.

“Regional Australia is responsible for 67 per cent of our exports, 45 per cent of domestic tourism, most production of food, and all production of the gas and electricity which powers city households.

“Regional Australia supplies the milk which city people put on their breakfast, the cheese which goes on their toast, the toast itself, the meat and vegetables most people eat for dinner and the fruit and cream they have for dessert, as well as most materials for the house they’re eating it in.

“Investing in regional Australia is like maintaining your car’s alternator. You can ignore the alternator but if it stops working, your battery won’t charge and your car won’t start.

“Regional Australia is a fantastic place to live and work and as capital cities become more and more crowded, more people will move to the country and discover this.

“When we invest in the regions, it gives them confidence and local business invests too, knowing Government sees a future for the region. In the cities, multi-billion-dollar government investment is assumed into things like public transport.”

Current initiatives:

  • Ten Regional Jobs and Investment Packages worth $220 million – Cairns, Bowen Basin, Wide Bay/Burnett, NSW North Coast, NSW South Coast, Geelong, Goulburn Valley, Latrobe Valley, Upper Spencer Gulf and regional Tasmania. These packages engage local committees to choose forward looking priority industries in their regions and we then fund projects which match those priorities
  • The Building Better Regions Fund: A $297 million fund for regional infrastructure and community projects. Only areas outside of capital cities are eligible for this fund
  • Investing $594 million to begin work on the Inland Rail, linking Brisbane to Melbourne and reducing costs for farmers
  • $2.5 billion National Dams Programme to create new water storages and kick start new economic growth in the regions
  • Delivering new mobile coverage to 31,000 homes and businesses across 86,000 square kilometres via 765 new or upgraded mobile phone towers
  • Rolling out broadband internet to rural, regional and remote Australia – 70 per cent of the NBN roll out so far is in regional areas
  • Implement a new competition law “effects test” to better protect small businesses in the marketplace to ensure a level playing field
  • Delivering a $152 million Regional Education Package to improve access to education for rural and remote students
  • Establishment of a Rural Health Commissioner
  • Creation of a Rural Generalist Pathway which will train and recognise country doctors who have much broader skill sets than the average GP

“Changes to Country of Origin labelling laws are already being rolled out and will benefit Australian farmers and businesses,” Minister Joyce said.

Ministers Joyce and Nash said they looked forward to the results of the PC study.



Media Contacts

For Minister Joyce:                          Vikki Campion                                                           0472 825 026

For Minister Nash:                           Les White                                                                   0409 805 122