Departments could shift to the regions

Related: Public sector shift could bring in millions for Bendigo

FEDERAL government ministers will need to justify why their department should not be shifted to regional areas as part of a new decentralisation push.

Minister for regional development Fiona Nash announced the plan during a speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday, saying a template will be developed to assess which departments can be moved to regional areas.

The announcement came after a senate inquiry examining decentralisation.

The City of Greater Bendigo made a submission to the inquiry, forecasting an economic benefit of $45 million if a 100-employee government agency was shifted to Bendigo.

Ms Nash said the plan will be finalised by the end of the year.

“Departments will need to either indicate that they’re suitable to move to the regions or justify why all or part of their operation is unsuitable,” she said.

“All portfolio ministers will need to report back to cabinet by August on which of their departments are suitable to be moved to regional Australia, and relevant ministers will need to report to cabinet with robust business cases for decentralisation by December.

“Moving government departments to the regions puts more money in our towns, more customers in our shops, more students in our schools and more volunteers in our local fire brigade.”

The City of Greater Bendigo also examined the possibility of co-locating existing government departments in one building in the CBD. Any shifted department could also take up residence.

Other northern Victorian councils, including Campaspe Shire, were also keen to cash in on the decentralisation focus.

Last week, Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said no towns or cities in regional Victoria were currently qualified to receive a government agency, under changes implemented by the Coalition as part of an agency shift to Armidale.

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