Federal Budget 2018

Federal Budget 2018: Regions could have done with staff

TURNS out what you and I class as "regional Australia" and what Treasurer Scott Morrison does are two very different things.

In Tuesday's Federal Budget, the government announced it would follow through on its promise to move agencies from Canberra, inner-Sydney and Melbourne to regional communities.

The only hitch is the government thinks Adelaide, Darwin and Parramatta count as regional Australia.

The budget booklet designed to talk up the government's regional spending credentials states a regional or rural post code should not decrease your standard of living.

"Your access to world-class healthcare, high quality education, 21st century communications and transport connections should not be limited by your geographic location. This government is increasing our investment in rural and regional Australia to help level the playing field between the regions and cities," it read.

Yet in deciding what "regions" to decentralise agencies to, the government has decided on shuffling jobs between capitals. 

Federal Budget 2018 surprises: Winners and losers in the Federal budget.
Federal Budget 2018 surprises: Winners and losers in the Federal budget.

Some Human Services Department staff will be moved from inner-Sydney to Parramatta, positions from the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations will be moved from Canberra to Darwin.

Staff from the Unique Student Identifier Register and the Office of National Rural Health Commissioner will move from Canberra to Adelaide.

Nine Inland Rail development positions will be moved out of Canberra, but the budget did not say to where.

In the 2017 budget, it was suggested decentralising "non-policy" agencies to regional communities could help growing unemployment problems.

"The government can play a role in bringing diverse skills and job opportunities to those regional economies and is exploring the potential decentralisation of some Commonwealth agencies to regional centres," the 2017 budget papers said.

That is not to say the budget was empty for regional Australians.

The government promised personal income tax cuts and reform, announced a new regional education plan and will spend money on roads and rail lines across the nation.

The budget books also talked up government's record on decentralisation, pointing to some public servant jobs being moved to regional towns including Armidale and Toowoomba.

But, when a government one year says moving agencies to regional towns can solve unemployment problems, and the next moves those jobs from one capital city to another, it is hard to think you are being taken seriously.