Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack says the federal government will use its financial support for a new “move to the country” campaign to encourage people to help boost the population of specific rural and regional centres.
At a news conference at Parliament House this morning Mr McCormack (main picture) announced $4.6 million in government support for the relocation campaign started by policy think tank, the Regional Australia Institute.
“As someone who grew up and still lives in a country town I think it’s a great idea to encourage city residents to shift to rural and regional towns,” he said.
“But I want to ensure that the government’s contribution is well targeted and will be spent to best advantage.
“So in approving the $4.6 million I have insisted that it is given only to people who wish to move to specific towns and who also undertake to sign up to a local community organisation.
“Initially I want to see the $4.6 million spent to encourage people to move into towns and villages in the New England region such as Aberdeen, Armidale, Ashford, Barraba, Bingara, Glenn Innes, Guyra, Inverell, Manilla, Merriwa, Murrurundi, Nundle, Quirindi, Scone, Tamworth, Tenterfield, Tingha, Urbenville and Walcha.
“Anyone who agrees to move to those party branches… sorry, polling booths…. oops, I mean anyone who moves to those towns will share in the $4.6 million.
“But they also need to agree to join and be an active member of a local community organisation that I nominate,” Mr McCormack said before ending the news conference.
When pressed by reporters to name the type of organisations applicants would need to agree to join, the Deputy Prime Minister said: “Initially, the list of organisations will be short. Very short. In fact there is one name on it.”
He refused to name the group, only adding before bringing the news conference to an end and walking off that it was a national organisation.