13th February 2010
I was quite impressed by the recent letter from new Nationals leader, Jacky Abbott.
It is indeed heartening to see the Nationals grab a policy and running with it in the hope that a more equitable distribution of our states' wealth will come to regional Australia.
Royalties for Regions sounds promising, but how much will regional SA get following downturns in revenue from mining operations in our state in future? Do the Nationals intend to lock regional funding to the fluctuations of an unpredictable mining sector attracting ever more foreign control?
Given the leadership of the National Party's track record of ignoring, even betraying the interests of those of us working in regional areas (as we have witnessed following their silence on the Iraqi debt forgiveness, the Howard Government's attempts to change quarantine standards to allow imported foods and the belated defence of primary producers on the issue of property rights), I can understand why they are leaping at a program which appears to have brought benefits to our counterparts in WA.
However, the devil could well be in the detail for such schemes and I look forward to assurances from Nationals' leadership regional SA will not in fact be worse off should the bottom fall out of our very poor excuse for a mining boom in this state!
Should this eventuate, what is their fall back plan to ensure adequate funding continues to regional development, hospitals and our schools?