NEWS that a fund set up to ensure a fair go for regional Australia will actually be spent on our regions is welcome.
It's a major victory for the Fair Go for Regional Australia campaign which has involved a unique partnership between the publishers of this newspaper, Australian Regional Media and News Corp.
In the past, we have seen tens of millions of dollars which should have gone to regional communities spent in the cities.
Given the gap between city and country on basic needs such as health and hospital care, road infrastructure, education and welfare services, this is clearly not on.
It is not acceptable that in some of our regions children's life expectancy is less than those in the city or that some of our children cannot access comparable education services.
For years, regional newspapers have played a vital role in fighting for a better deal for their regions.
Major road projects, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, have been announced after relentless campaigns highlighting the deaths on deadly stretches of our highways.
With a federal election just weeks away, it is time for both sides of politics to outline how they will close the gap when it comes to regional services and infrastructure.
It makes good economic sense, for example, to establish better services and job opportunities in the regions, to reduce the billions of dollars being poured into roads in our congested cities.
Government offices should lead the way in relocating public servants to become closer to regional communities, ensuring they are more in touch with local need.
Minister for Regional Development Fiona Nash says her vision is to help build the regional communities our children and grandchildren either want to stay in or come back to.
It's a worthy vision - but one that will require a long term commitment from the federal government that goes well beyond an election cycle.
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