I’ve been in Toowoomba for the past couple of days chairing hearings of the Joint Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation.
Australians living in our big cities are experiencing crippling commute times, overcrowded public transport, school shortages and an undersupply of affordable housing.
Our population is expected to hit almost 40 million by 2050. I think it makes good economic sense to support local businesses, local entrepreneurs and local people. Strong regional economies, pathways through education towards employment, and future-proof industries are vital.
Another option is the relocation of Government departments to non-metropolitan areas. This too may be a viable path if the industry is a good fit with the community. Whatever pathways we choose, it’s clear that Australia needs a national population policy.
NOSTALGIA IN THE AIR
Autumn is here, and that means the Kurri Kurri Nostalgia Festival is just around the corner!
I will again have the great pleasure of opening this flagship event, which celebrates all the great bits of the 1950s and 1960s – hot rods, classic cars, music, fashion and, of course, Rock ‘n’ Roll!
I’m really looking forward to attending and also catching up with my former 2NUR colleagues, who do a fabulous job each year broadcasting from the event.
Women were united at International Women’s Day gatherings around the globe last week and here in the Hunter I hosted my own breakfast, with my colleague Kate Washington MP, at Hunter Region Botanic Gardens and attended the Women’s Network Hunter and Business and Professional Women Cessnock dinner at Blackbird Artisan Bakery.
Women have taken great strides towards equality and respect. Here in Australia, under Gough Whitlam, Labor funded our country’s first women’s refuges, rape crisis centres and women’s health centres, among other things. And, if Labor is elected, we will reverse cuts to penalty rates, add 10 days of paid domestic leave to the national employment standards and provide $43 million to reform the court systems so victims of violence can’t be cross-examined by perpetrators.
You can hear more about Labor’s achievements for women, and how we will continue to #pushforprogress, by reading the Deputy Leader of the Opposition Tanya Plibersek’s address to the National Press Club. You can find a transcript on my website at merylswanson.com.au.