Joanne Ryan MP
Federal Member for Lalor
Joanne Ryan MP

Regional Development Australia Fund

I am pleased to rise in support of the member for Throsby's motion. I do this as the representative of one of Australia's fastest-growing municipalities: the city of Wyndham, a region that in recent times has grown by more than 12,000 residents every year. This equates to around 230 people arriving a week, or 32 every day. It seems that at every turn a new suburb has appeared, expanded and filled. We truly are the epitome of a growth corridor. With this growth comes great things: new innovation and ideas, increasing diversity, and a vibrant and ever-shifting cultural identity. We celebrate this dynamism, but with growth comes needs as well. We need more health services, we need more and better schools, we need improved roads and we desperately need local infrastructure.

So when in June last year it was announced that the city of Wyndham would receive its share of $150 million in Regional Development Australia funding I was thrilled. I was thrilled as a local resident and thrilled as a member of the Wyndham community. Because back then that is exactly what I was: a concerned resident, a mother and a principal. I certainly was not the member for Lalor, because that is how long ago this funding was announced—well before I was the member for Lalor, well before the election and well before those opposite came to government and made this heartless cut. So for them to maintain—insist—that this funding was simply an election promise that does not need to be honoured is just plain untrue.

I note that the member for Wide Bay and the member for McMillan have also claimed that the money for these projects simply does not exist. But, as my colleagues have pointed out, this funding was promised and budgeted for months and months ago. So maybe the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development should have a closer look at the budget papers, as well as his conscience. If he did, he would see what is at stake here: parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, medical centres, memorials, multipurpose halls and even something as simple and as necessary as a ramp to improve access for those with mobility issues.

Regional Development Australia Fund round 5 was essentially about supporting infrastructure that makes our communities better places to be. Locally, for my electorate, that

would have meant funding for the construction of the Tarneit Community Learning Centre Library. It would have meant federal government assistance for a library designed to meet the needs of our rapidly- growing region and the very new community of Tarneit. It would have meant the city of Wyndham could continue to demonstrate to every family the value of literacy. And it would have meant a place where people could come together, particularly some of our more isolated residents. But, because of the callous and heartless attitude of the Abbott government, funding for this project has been cut, without consultation and without question.

Maybe there is hope. After all, the member for New England and Deputy Leader of the National Party did say that projects of merit would be funded. But maybe the member for New England thinks that a library for the people of Tarneit has no merit. What about the people of Guyra's new roundabout in the member's own electorate, a footpath in Gunnedah or the new playground in Tamworth? All of these projects were to receive funding under Regional Development Australia Fund round 5. But now, who knows? Now we have nothing—no clarity, no commitment and no community funding. It will, however, be interesting to see whether the government's opposition to the RDAF extends to when it is ribbon-cutting time for round 3 and 4 projects. Will they be there for the photo opportunity when the Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases Research Hub opens? Will they be there when my community's recreation centre redevelopment is finished? Only time will tell.

If the government want to be fair dinkum, they will not just turn up to cut ribbons and get their photo taken; they will also turn up and help communities in need, communities such as those of the member for Newcastle, the member for Throsby and my own. I call on the Abbott government to reinstate round 5 funding. I commend this motion to the House.


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