Truss puts govt on notice to give regions a Fair Go
REGIONAL Australians need a Fair Go - and a former deputy Prime Minister has told his Canberra colleagues they must step up.
Federal Member for Wide Bay and former deputy to Malcolm Turnbul, Warren Truss, has used his final speech in Parliament to name-check the Fair Go campaign being supported by Australian Regional Media newspapers.
"It is simply not reasonable for people to accept a situation where the life expectancy of a child born in my electorate is five years lower than someone born two hours down the road in Brisbane,'' Mr Truss said.
"It is unacceptable that the average income in my electorate is half the average income in Canberra.''
It was the strongest statement of support yet for Fair Go by someone as close to the seat of power as Mr Truss.
"It is unacceptable that we should have unemployment rates double that of Brisbane.
"It is also unacceptable that you have eight times less chance of reaching level 12 from level 10 in Maryborough than you have in Brisbane."
Mr Truss, who earlier this week chided his local paper, the Fraser Coast Chronicle, being part of a company that had downsized newsrooms in the regions, nevertheless said the campaign had "raised some very valid points".
''We do need to remember that people who live in rural areas are also Australians and we have a right to expect a fair share of our nation's growth and prosperity," he said in his valedictorian speech on Wednesday.
He told the Chronicle yesterday he had always believed regional areas deserved better.
"It was one of the issues raised in my maiden speech, and it's the reason I'm in Parliament," he said.
"We've got to keep working on it. There are advantages to living in regional areas, and we don't want to talk our regions down.
"The message needs to be heard in the cities. People (in the cities) are willing to help disadvantaged people in Africa, but there's not the commitment to do that in regional areas.
"Anything I can do, for the rest of my days, to help - I will."
Mr Truss also acknowledged in his speech there was plenty of work still to be done by his successor to the seat of Wide Bay.
"We have made a lot of progress, but these are social justice issues that are on our own back doorstep," he said.
"We are often very good at saying what should happen in other parts of the world, but these are some things we need to do in our own country.
"As a country, we offer so much and it is something that we need to share with all Australians, including those who live outside the capital cities."