BENDIGO has missed out on being the home of a new $28 million Commonwealth regional banking agency to deliver $4 billion in loans.
Deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce announced Orange, in central west New South Wales, would host the Regional Investment Corporation, to open in mid-2018.
Bendigo was one of seven regional centres considered for the new bureaucracy along with Albury-Wodonga, Wagga Wagga, Bathurst, Lithgow and Toowoomba.
The new body will take charge of the distribution of $4 billion in concessional loans for farms and water infrastructure – some functions of which may already run through Rural Finance, owned by the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank and based in Bendigo.
Victorian Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie said the government body would bring jobs to Orange.
“[Bendigo] weren’t successful this time, but we’ll just keep on batting,” she said.
“What we do know, if you grow up in a town like Bendigo... you’re more likely to return to the regions.
“Having a facility like the Rural Investment Corporation in a place like Orange, there might be people growing up in... regional Victoria that, once they go to Melbourne or Sydney, and get that commerce degree, they’ll be able to seek out a job opportunity... in the Rural Investment Corporation in Orange.”
The Regional Investment Corporation will host 25 staff initially, and will grow as it approaches its target of delivering $4 billion in loans. It will cost $28 million to set up in Orange.
Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said it made more sense to base the body in Bendigo, and the announcement was completely unexpected.
“How could Bendigo miss out? We host Rural Finance and the Bendigo Bank,” she said.
“It should be about co-locating to get the best value for the taxpayers’ dollar.
“It was a random announcement with no feasibility study, and no calls for expressions of interest.
“The Victorian state government put Bendigo on the table for this sort of announcement, we already have significant rural banking bodies based here.”
The announcement comes after the federal government chose to relocate the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to Armidale, in Barnaby Joyce’s electorate.
It has flagged future measures to de-centralise Australian bureaucracies.
Orange also hosts a Macquarie Bank enterprise and the NSW Rural Assistance Authority.