Journal article

Editorial: on the white paper 'Working Nation'

Economics Regional planning Infrastructure Australia

This editorial (published in 1994) reviewed in detail some of the provisions of the white paper 'Working Nation'.

Few readers will be unaware of the Federal Government’s White Paper entitled ‘Working Nation’ delivered by the Prime Minister to the House of Representatives on may 4th. The Paper focused mainly on strategies designed to reduce unemployment, especially among those out of work for a long time. However, it also contained strategies to increase regional development given that unemployment tends to be concentrated in some areas. These include the western suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, such industrial cities as Newcastle, Wollongong and Geelong, some coastal regions like the North Coast of NSW, and many small inland country towns.

The regional development component of ‘Working Nation’ is extremely modest when compared to DURD’s programs during the Whitlam era. It has five components: improving finance options; facilitating infrastructure investment; encouraging best practice; promoting export activity; and better program delivery. The cost of the main package is estimated at about $150 million over four years, or less than $40 million per annum. Some additional costs, including tax revenues foregone and the accelerated construction of Badgerys Creek airport, raise gross expenditure a little. The total, even before substantial administrative costs are deducted, would buy only a few floors of a Sydney office tower. Expenditure therefore falls far short of what regional interests would have expected in the light of the Kelty Taskforce Report.

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