Labor electorates line up for Canberra public servants

Communities in regional Labor-held seats are among those lining up to attract public servants relocated from Canberra.


Most of the 199 submissions to a Labor-controlled Senate inquiry endorse decentralisation.

What began as a political exercise to scrutinise the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority move to Armidale has opened the door for towns and cities across the country to seek an injection of federal stimulus.

Wishful submissions were made from local governments in key Labor seats including Ballarat, Bendigo, Corio, Cunningham, Eden Monaro, Lingiari and Paterson.

Maitland City Council, adjoining the Hunter electorate of Labor agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon, says decentralisation will help address skill shortages in regional Australia and ease cost-of-living pressure in capital cities.

Mr Fitzgibbon said Labor supports creating government jobs in regions where it can be done without adversely impacting on an agency’s ability to do its work.

He said that’s not the case with APVMA.

???”The Turnbull Government has cut many more jobs in the regions than one government authority would replace,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“But the whole exercise has been a cruel hoax on regional councils. Barnaby Joyce’s own policy restricts the locations to just four regional cities.”

Alice Springs in the Labor seat of Lingiari proudly touted its credentials to the committee as “an ideal regional centre”.

“Alice Springs is perfectly positioned and equipped to house decentralised Commonwealth Government departments, particularly the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Indigenous Affairs,” the town’s submission says.

Ballarat council “strongly advocates for government services relocation as an important opportunity to stimulate growth in regional economies”.

“An injection of skilled, knowledge-sector government jobs into a region can accelerate economic growth and have a profoundly positive impact on the wider local economy,” the city says.

Bendigo council agrees.

“We argue that the success of locally based Bendigo and Adelaide Bank is an example to both public and private sectors that being headquartered regionally should be no impediment to providing competitive, quality, cost-effective service on a national or state level,” the submission says.

The City of Greater Geelong points out it has successfully hosted staff from the Australian Taxation Office, Centrelink’s national call centre, NDIS and Australian Bureau of Statistics as part of its shift from car manufacturing.

“The relocation or establishment of government-based entities to Geelong has been instrumental in assisting the economy to transition its workforce to new sectors,” the city says.

Wollongong Council also supports relocating federal agencies.

“Decentralising the public service out of Canberra and into regional cities will allow regional cities the opportunity to share in the many benefits that come from having the Commonwealth Government as a major employer,” the city says.

Even Canberra’s neighbours want a slice of the pie.

The Canberra Region Joint Organisation says towns such as Goulburn, Yass and Cooma should be top of the list.

The ACT Government and Regional Development Australia ACT were lonely flag bearers for Canberra.

Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce said 88 per cent of submissions supported decentralisation.

“The sharing of public sector jobs will deliver long-term dividends to regional towns,” Mr Joyce said.

“Every dollar spent in country small businesses helps to create more jobs, higher wages and better confidence in regional Australia.”