Localising sustainability

Speaking at the Sustaining Rural Communities Conference in Narrabri recently, Minister for Regional Australia, Simon Crean said embedding localism was key to turning challenges into competitive advantages.

Mr Crean said regionalism’s time has come and localism could be used to generate the country’s “strength, diversity and prosperity”.

He said the government had committed significant resources to regional areas, including $4.3 billion for regional health, hospitals, education, infrastructure and skills development in the last federal Budget.

“Federal Labor has also strengthened the network of 55 Regional Development Australia Committees and the role of local governments working in them,” Mr Crean said.

He said it was through sound scientific knowledge that the regions would be able to turn national challenges into new opportunities.

“That is why we provided $8 million in seed funding to establish the Regional Australia Institute,” Mr Crean said.

“The Institute has the potential, for example, to make a contribution in the debate on the competing land issues around coal seam gas."

He said the Institute will also assist in the country's ability to realise the opportunities available through the carbon farming initiative.

“This is not about reinventing the wheel – it’s about connecting the work already underway and identifying the gaps,” he said.

“It’s only through identifying local opportunities and good on-the-ground knowledge that practical and effective solutions are developed”.

Mr Crean said Northern Inland New South Wales had already shown leadership in developing local solutions to national challenges.

“You have already become more efficient in the use of water – and you are already positioning yourself for a future with less water,” Mr Crean said.

“You have something to contribute to an important national issue – and again it is the local knowledge and leadership that is making a difference.”

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