NOTICE: Hard copies of the Australian New Crops Newsletter are available from the publisher, Dr Rob Fletcher. Details of availability are included in theAdvice on Publications Available.
Jean McRuvie, in the Australian New Crops Newsletter Issue 7, described the impact of the regional development policies of the former Australian Federal government in her region. She has kindly agreed to provide an update for this issue.
One hundred days is a long time in politics and for regional development, the first hundred days of the present State and Federal Governments proved to be very long.
Suddenly the words 'regional development' disappeared from some ministries in both political arenas and many of the traditional funding sources ceased to exist. REDO's which had sprung up following the One Nation initiative (of the previous Federal government) were informed that their funding had ceased, the regional offices of the Department of Housing and Regional Development were closed and the Department disappeared.
At the same time, the Department of Business, Industry and Regional Development became the Department of Tourism, Small Business and Industry. BARA officers (Business Advisors for Regional Areas), another initiative of the previous Federal Government are also being phased out with some funding due to cease shortly.
These have been radical changes indeed and changes that have caused considerable angst. However, the work has not ceased nor has the need to develop strong regional economic and social initiatives. As is usual in times of change, new ways are being found to continue to do what needs to be done.
Many REDOs are amalgamating or joining forces with other regional organisations and focusing their work on particular areas, both geographically and economically. Industry and local government consultancies are being carried out, projects initiated that can provide an income for the REDO and specific projects targeted that can assist the region in developing major export or domestic markets. Staff trained and skilled in the REDOs are finding jobs elsewhere but taking their skills and knowledge with them and in this manner spreading the message of regional and rural development.
Other State departments are taking up the mantle of regional and rural development and in Queensland, the Department of Primary Industries now has a mission statement that recognises that "The Department is a rural economic development agency bringing together government and industry in partnership to increase the profitability of primary industries-based enterprises on a sustainable basis".
This new focus has seen the introduction of Rural Partnership Development Officers working in communities to develop rural economic initiatives and act as a bridge between the community and government. The Department of Economic Development and Trade has taken up the mantle of economic development but with an export trade focus. They now have regional offices throughout the State of Queensland.
So in many ways what we have ended up with is just a case of musical chairs - different chairs - same music. The need for rural and regional development is as strong today as it was when last I wrote. The work has continued throughout all the changes.
It is now more widely recognised that to survive, communities have to become their own saviours, developing skills and recognising the strengths and opportunities they possess. Service providers, both governmental and private, have a duty to skill the communities, discover and encourage leaders and provide assistance to develop potential opportunities.
We must begin to recognise something that successful communities recognised a long time ago, that internal investment in a community attracts external investment. Until communities are prepared to put their own money back into their area, nobody else will do so. Multi-million dollar projects providing hundreds of jobs are extremely rare. The building of structures such as international airports are even rarer, yet these are often the goals of small rural communities.
True rural and regional development hinges on the build up of small successful businesses providing an economic and social stability. This is something that everybody can achieve whatever political changes take place. So, although there have been great changes over the past twelve months, the needs are still as strong and there still exists a great well of enthusiasm and vigour which will ensure long term success.
Any claims made by authors in the Australian New Crops Newsletter are presented by the Editors in good faith. Readers would be wise to critically examine the circumstances associated with any claims to determine the applicability of such claims to their specific set of circumstances. This material can be reproduced, with the provision that the source and the author (or editors, if applicable) are acknowledged and the use is for information or educational purposes. Contact with the original author is probably wise since the material may require updating or amendment if used in other publications. Material sourced from the Australian New Crops Newsletter cannot be used out of context or for commercial purposes not related to its original purpose in the newsletter
Contact: Dr Rob Fletcher, School of Land and Food, The University of Queensland Gatton College, 4345; Telephone: 07 5460 1311 or 07 5460 1301; Facsimile: 07 5460 1112; International facsimile: 61 7 5460 1112; Email:email@example.com
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originally created by:GK; latest update 6 June 1999 by: RF