The Baird Government has been forced into yet another embarrassing revamp of its failed Regional Relocation Scheme – which has seen NSW residents take up barely a fraction of the grants initially on offer to move from the city to a regional area.
The Government will now allow people to move as little as 50km away from the city – not the 100km previously required – to access the grant.
Despite initially budgeting for 7000 grants a year over four years, only 1166 grants have been taken up this financial year. The annual budget has been cut from $49 million to $10 million.
“The Coalition Government is refusing to admit the obvious – its Regional Relocation scheme is a dud,” Shadow Minister for Regional and Rural Affairs Mick Veitch said today.
“We initially had people pocketing $7000 grants for moving down the road.
“Now the embarrassingly low take-up rate has forced Mike Baird to change the goalposts again.
“A temporary grant is not enough to encourage population movement – people will only move to areas if there are jobs.”
Veitch said Mike Baird was the ultimate city-centric Premier who had no answers to why unemployment is significantly above the State average in regional and rural NSW.
- Far West – 9.6 per cent
- New England/North West – 9.2 per cent
- Murray – 8.1 per cent
- Hunter (excluding Newcastle) – 8 per cent
- Blue Mountains – 7.9 per cent
- Mid North Coast – 7.7 per cent
- Southern NSW/Capital region – 7.1 per cent
- Coffs Harbour – 6.1 per cent
- Tweed – 5.7 per cent
Under cover of the Abbott budget late last week, Mr Baird moved to increase the cost of a TAFE qualification by as much as $3000 in 2015 – a measure that will decimate the hopes of young people and older workers seeking to retrain across regional NSW.
The Government has already cut $800 million from TAFE. It has sacked 800 teachers and eliminated or downgraded vital courses such as the HSC syllabus in the Hunter and Riverina.
“We’re seeing too many places in regional NSW where unemployment has a seven or an eight in front of it – all while Tony Abbott puts university out of reach of regional students and Mike Baird takes the hatchet to TAFE,” Veitch said.
“Mike Baird is the ultimate city-centric Premier who is allowing huge swathes of regional NSW to suffer unemployment rates that would never be tolerated in Sydney.
“The money from the Regional Relocation Grant scheme would be far better spent reversing Baird’s TAFE cuts and creating new regional job opportunities.”
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