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Gippsland Development And Country Alliance Seeks Investment Push

Regional development has been placed high on the federal campaign agenda, with the launch of a regional investment plan by an alliance of key regional interests.

By Latrobe City Council - 9th October 2001 - Back to News

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Regional development has been placed high on the federal campaign agenda, with the launch of a regional investment plan by an alliance of key regional interests, including regional cities, rural shires, local development boards and water authorities.

Mayors from regional centres across the State launched the Australian Regional Investment Plan in Melbourne on Sunday.

The plan identifies a range of measures to boost investment, employment and economic development in country areas.

Gippsland Development Chairman and Acting CEO, Graeme Pearce, said country Australians wanted policy innovation to strengthen regions by helping regional communities to help themselves.

"Gippsland Development’s banking and finance advisory group was given a presentation of the plan, which received widespread commendation. We fully support this initiative and will be urging Councils throughout Gippsland to give this their consideration," Mr Pearce said.

Mr Pearce said compulsory superannuation was drawing more than $800 million a year out of regional Victoria and most of this money was invested in metropolitan and overseas economies.

"The Australia Regional Investment Plan identifies investment opportunities in regional Australia that offer greater security and better returns to investors than many metropolitan or overseas equities," Mr Pearce said.

Mr Pearce said the plan called for a three-point strategy to attract a higher level of regional investment both from regionally located investors and from superannuation and development capital funds. The strategy proposes that:

  • Approved regional authorities be enabled to issue tax-advantaged local bonds as a vehicle for raising capital to fund local projects.
  • Enterprise Zones be created where businesses generating new jobs through new investment become eligible for new regionally focused business assistance programs and tax concessions.
  • A national framework be established for setting regional development and investment policy that involves state and local government.

"Regional Australia isn’t asking for handouts. We want governments to create a policy environment that stimulates regional investment and economic development," Mr Pearce said.

"Tax-advantaged local bonds will be particularly attractive to investors living in regional areas including self-funded retirees and self-managed super funds. If local bonds attract just 5% of super fund assets that would mean a $25 billion boost for regional investment across Australia."

Mr Pearce said local bonds and enterprise zones were methods successfully used by governments around the world to grow regional economies. He said the Federal Government and Opposition would be asked to embrace the package and implement the recommended measures.

"We believe there needs to be an integrated approach to regional investment from all tiers of government. It is in the national interest to have strong regional centres across the country," Mr Pearce added.

The alliance is actively lobbying federal ministers, shadow ministers and candidates in the election campaign to embrace the plan.


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