Graham Gorrel's Friday On My Mind | OPINION, December 2, 2016

LAST week's column which reported about a rousing speech to Federal Parliament by Liberal MP, Russell Broadbent, brought a universally constructive response by readers including descriptions ranging from "heartening and inspiring", "uplifting" and, one in  particular which stood out, "where was PM Turnbull and his parliamentary colleagues Joyce, Shorten, Morrison, Dutton et al when the speech was made"?

The column's NSW political correspondent was impressed; "however", he wrote, "the problem I have with politics today is that it is mostly words and too little action. We need action oriented policies and programs that deliver change, particularly in regard to jobs in regional areas".

"Most new jobs are in the services sector (and mainly in the capital cities) as manufacturing declines due to globalisation. Jobs in banking, finance, insurance , education, amongst others, are increasing but too many are in the over-crowded cities  and not enough in the bush.

"I look forward to the day when the head office of Westpac is in Wagga or Dubbo, rather than Sydney. Most of the new jobs in the sector are based on IT and with the NBN being rolled across the nation now is the time (to consider) moving them to the regions. What is needed are politicians who will make it happen with the right policies and programs".

He is right but the policies and programs must be structured on a national relocation plan for all Australia not the sort of blatant pork barrelling exercise by Barnaby Joyce who has attempted to shift the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority out of Canberra to Armidale in his electorate.

As late as Wednesday, Joyce was backing away from the plan after Labor, industry groups and the Canberra media, launched the "pork barrelling" accusations.

The overall concept is good but, as our correspondent wrote, "what is desperately needed is more jobs to draw people out of Sydney (and other state capitals) to places like Mudgee, Orange, Bathurst, Parkes and Wellington, that I visited last week; attractive towns and great places to live and grow ... and the time is right to move jobs to regional areas" our correspondent concluded.

Former Wagga Mayor, Bruce Hedditch, now Bowen Business Chamber chairman, wrote in his latest newspaper column, "Places like Bowen and other country centres in Queensland, are in dire straits with high unemployment which is destroying work ethics, impacting upon families and destroying the viability of our communities".

"Our politicians need to acknowledge that economic development is for Australia and Australians, not to benefit our neighbours".

Federal and state governments (and their MPs, especially) are coming under intense pressure to  reverse what The SMH's lead story on Wednesday described as "a yawning growth gap opening between city and country as Sydney's dynamic economic hubs streak ahead of the rest of the state". The story was headed _ "millions in rural areas left behind as cities boom".    

The federal government appears to be bereft of answers, or leadership, probably both. In The DA this week, on the one hand science minister Greg Hunt said "we do really have to get serious about high speed rail"; the day before in Wagga his Nationals cohort and infrastructure minister, Darren Chester, wailed "the government didn't have the money to lay tracks for a very fast train".

Former Deputy PM, Tim Fischer, got it right: "It's time to get on with it (HSR)".