11 Nov 2011

Labour says it would re-appoint a Rural Affairs Minister

7:33 pm on 11 November 2011

The Labour Party says it would re-appoint a Minister for Rural Affairs to give rural communities an advocate in Cabinet if it is elected to Government.


The commitment is part of Labour's rural affairs election policy released on Friday.

Spokesperson Damien O'Connor says there is a need for advocacy and representation for rural affairs at a ministerial level.

Mr O'Connor says the National Party got rid of the position three years ago, wiping out a powerful voice for rural communities.

Labour's policy includes plans to commit an extra $16 million to the Sustainable Farming Fund and targeted healthcare.

The party says it will also focus on key areas of infrastructure and rural services, rural broadband and quality rural education.

It says if elected on 26 November, it will ensure that funding for local roads is not further undermined by an excessive focus on roads of national significance.

Labour says it will ensure remote areas that will struggle to get access to fibre optics are given priority under the Rural Broadband Initiative for access via satellite, wireless or other means.

It has pledged to restoring funding for Adult Community Education and would increase funding over time. It would require all school buses to have seatbelts, starting with those on open roads.

Labour also says it would double-staff all one-person rural police stations.