Regional Development Australia in Durack
September 2, 2014
In my electorate of Durack there are four
Regional Development Australia offices servicing the Mid West and Gascoyne, the
Pilbara, the Kimberley and the wheat belt. As I work across the electorate, the
RDA CEOs keep me informed of their work, priorities and plans for regional development.
Front of mind for me is the future of RDAs—their funding, function and tenure,
which is currently subject to review by the Minister for Regional Development.
The RDAs have economic development at their core and each has responded to
local priorities in a different way.
I would like to take this
opportunity to focus on the good work of the RDA Mid West-Gascoyne, which has
its offices in Geraldton and Carnarvon, servicing an area of over 600,000
square kilometres from Exmouth in the north to Coorow in the south and east to
Wiluna. It includes the Indian Ocean Territories. Led ably by Executive Officer
Alan Bradley, it has had a direct hand in securing significant investment in
the region over the past four years on major works, including the Shire of Carnarvon
flood mitigation works, the City of Greater Geraldton West End Foreshore
development, the Shire of Cocos Keeling Islands Emden/Sydney memorial gazebo,
the Shire of Christmas Island Senior Citizen Centre, and the Shire of Exmouth
multiservice tourism and community facility. RDA Mid West has led the way in
preparing economic development strategies for four regions in this area,
including the North Midlands, the Batavia Coast, the Gascoyne—which is known
for the Learmonth Defence base—and the Murchison, with the historic mining
towns of Cue, Mount Magnet and Meekatharra.
The Mid West-Gascoyne RDA
collaborates with the state based development commissions to deliver economic
outcomes for their communities. Their five priorities are food production,
implementation of a regional tourism strategy, the Oakajee deepwater port and
serviced industrial estate, the Mid West Energy Project, and Freight Link,
which is hopefully developing linkages between the regions, with corridors such
as the Oakajee-Narngulu Infrastructure Corridor, and Wiluna-Meekatharra road
upgrades. Further north, we see the work of the RDA Pilbara, which operates out
of the new city of Karratha. This services an area of some 500,000 square
kilometres and includes the town of Port Hedland, the Shire of Ashburton, the
City of Karratha and the Shire of East Pilbara. Led by CEO Diane Pentz, the
Pilbara RDA has a direct hand in securing funds for the region, such as
regional development funding of $15 million towards the Karratha Leisureplex,
$5 million for five years for the West Pilbara Communities for Children
program, and the Pilbara Regional Children's Services Plan, which details the
provision of early-years services across the Pilbara, considers trends and
informs government of the challenges facing service providers.
This non-profit, community
based organisation makes an important contribution to planning and regional
development through forums, workshops, studies, working parties and committees.
In the past 12 months alone, RDA Pilbara has released a number of key studies,
which include the RDA Pilbara Regional Plan 2013-2016, the Pilbara State of
the Environment report, and Cost of Doing Business in the Pilbara
2013/14. These studies underpin economic development planning in the region
and for the state.
Assisting the economic and
social imperatives of child care and education, the Pilbara RDA has established
two Strengthening Early Years groups, in Port Hedland and in Newman. They are
very active in the planning process and the RDA has also made numerous
submissions on behalf of the people of the Pilbara, including the State
Planning Strategy 2050, the inquiry into the development of northern Australia,
and the submission on fly in and fly out. RDA Pilbara works in partnership to
deliver economic programs such as the Pilbara Pulse conference, the Karratha
Business Expo, Northern Australian Alliance, and so on. As you can see, they
are very busy. Major collaborations are concerned with the delivery of social
service support for remote Indigenous communities, support for disenfranchised
youth, and economic diversification projects.
Both the Pilbara RDA and
the Mid West-Gascoyne RDA play a valuable role in my electorate of Durack in
understanding community needs, without which communities would be less
empowered. Building stronger regions and providing information and advice to
all levels of government is a highly valued role of all RDAs. Every opportunity
I get, I am promoting the ongoing, valuable role of RDAs and in particular to
the Minister for Regional Development.