Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon has nominated the NBN, public service job cuts, stagnant wages and high speed rail as critical items for discussion at today’s public hearing of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation in Newcastle.
The committee, which aims to learn more about strategies that drive regional growth, will hear from a range of local stakeholders including Hunter Research Foundation Centre, Newcastle and Cessnock Councils, and Regional Development Australia.
Ms Claydon welcomed the hearing, saying that Newcastle offers a great opportunity for the committee to gain insight into how the city has transitioned and diversified its economy over recent decades.
“Newcastle has a great story to tell when it comes to regional development, but we’ve also got some cautionary tales about the negative impacts of Government decisions,” Ms Claydon said.
Ms Claydon said no discussion of regional development in Australia would be complete without considering the damaging impacts of the Turnbull Government’s copper-based NBN.
“The full-fibre NBN proposed by the former Labor Government offered the greatest opportunity for places like Newcastle to attract investment and create jobs,” Ms Claydon said.
“In going ahead with the substandard copper-based NBN, Mr Turnbull has shackled communities like ours for decades to come.”
Ms Claydon also pointed to a series of public service cuts and attacks on penalty rates as a threat to growth.
“The Federal Government talks big about decentralisation, but they’ve slashed 1800 regional jobs since 2013,” Ms Claydon said.
“This has ripped millions out of regional economies and crippled local services.
“The Turnbull Government also supported cuts to penalty rates for some of Australia’s lowest paid workers at a time when stagnant wages are one of the greatest threats to growth.”
Ms Claydon said she hoped the committee would also consider at the importance of transport infrastructure in revitalising regional economies.
“We know that high speed rail would open up the East Coast and turbocharge our local economy – delivering new markets, driving investment and creating jobs,” Ms Claydon said.
“But if high speed rail is to become a reality in the foreseeable future, the government must start the planning work so they can secure the rail corridor immediately.”