Rural and Regional Policy

PREAMBLE

The Australian Greens Victoria Rural and Regional Policy should be read in conjunction with our other state and federal policies; this policy draws attention to specific issues of importance in rural and regional Victoria across a range of policy areas under Victorian state jurisdiction.

PRINCIPLES

1. The sustainability, productivity and resilience of rural and regional areas are vital to Victoria’s economic and social prosperity.

2. The localised provision of goods and services offers social and economic benefits for rural and regional communities.

3. The rapid transition to a low-carbon economy is required to limit and mitigate the impacts of human-induced climate change. Rural and regional Victoria is positioned to meet an increasing demand for renewable energy, for environmentally sustainable products and services, and for carbon sequestration.

4. The health and biodiversity of all ecosystems in rural and regional Victoria are essential to our collective future, and these ecosystems must be protected, and regenerated where they have been degraded.

5. Aboriginal peoples cared for and lived sustainably on the land throughout Victoria for tens of thousands of years. Justice, reconciliation and self-determination for Aboriginal communities is an essential part of rural and regional development.

6. Rural and regional residents have the right to access services at a comparable level to metropolitan residents, and should largely determine the mix of services and the method of delivery for their own communities.

7. Rural and regional communities have the right to strong local governance, consultation and engagement arrangements that allow them to manage the development of their communities.

8. Rural and regional communities have unique relationships with, and unparalleled opportunities to preserve, environmental, cultural, and historical resources.

9. Rural and regional areas have unique characteristics that have the potential to grow and sustain strong local industries, including: agriculture, agricultural processing, ecotourism, natural resource management, renewable energy generation and the arts.

AIMS

Community Resilience and Local Provision of Goods and Services

1. Local food producers are preferred suppliers to local facilities such as schools and hospitals.

2. The facilitation of direct sales by of local produce.

3. Support for local suppliers of goods and services to apply for government contracts with prompt payment terms.

4. Procurement decisions that factor in the social and environmental benefits of local provision.

5. Initiatives to provide just transitions resulting from social and economic changes.

6. Initiatives to enhance rural and regional youth employment and reduce the drift to cities.

7. A compulsory code of practice for the purchasing of produce by supermarket chains and processors to ensure adequate payment to producers.

8. Employment schemes and skills training in environmental services and natural resource management available to local residents.

9. The protection of agricultural land and the water table from inappropriate and damaging use, including unconventional gas exploration and urban sprawl.

Strong Sustainable Local Economies

10. The marketing of regional goods and services through the use of the use of labelling that identifies regions and producers.

11. Financial incentives and advisory services for primary producers and regional processors to form cooperatives.

12. The provision of assistance, including R & D, for primary producers to move away from mono-cultures towards greater diversity of outputs that are regenerative, ecologically sustainable and that sequester carbon.

13. The acceptance of farming as a viable family business.

14. The compensation of land-holders in recognition of economic value of ecological services they provide.

15. The direct economic benefits of the conversion of rural land to renewable energy generation are fairly shared with farmers and regional communities.

16. Increased support for new locally developed, owned and operated industries that are socially useful, support a healthy environment and provide fulfilling work.

17. The relocation of businesses, government agencies, professionals and families from Melbourne.

18. In association with local communities, the development and implementation of strategies to attract new residents, including refugees and asylum seekers, and retain existing residents, in rural and regional areas through the provision of appropriate financial incentives, housing, community services, and cultural engagement.

19. Increased support for rural and regional arts, festivals and sporting fixtures.

Rapid Transition to a Low Carbon Economy

20. Support for rural and regional communities to become carbon neutral, self-sufficient in renewable energy, and owners of local renewable energy infrastructure.

21. The manufacture of renewable energy plant and equipment in rural and regional areas.

22. The co-location of appropriate industry with renewable energy infrastructure.

23. The provision of transition programs and support to communities that are economically reliant on the generation of coal-fired power and the logging of native forests.

24. The development and implementation of adaptation plans to manage climate change impacts.

Justice and Self Determination for Aboriginal Communities

25. Support for to Aboriginal communities to maintain, strengthen and renew their cultural traditions and practices.

26. The public recognition of Aboriginal history and culture through education, signage and the use of Indigenous names for geographic features.

27. Aboriginal communities having opportunities to acquire skills to manage their country and take an active role in the management of public lands, waterways and coastal areas.

28. The inclusion of Aboriginal communities in relevant community events and their representation on relevant boards, community organisations and local government committees.

29. In consultation with Aboriginal traditional owners, the provision of assistance for developing culturally appropriate eco-tourism services.

Protection and Regeneration of Natural Ecosystems

30. Increased support for locally managed restoration and conservation programs, such as Landcare, and better resourced government programs to address land degradation, salinity, pest plants and animals, and loss of biodiversity.

31. The transition of rural and regional state forests to state park or national park status.

32. Mining companies being responsible for the complete rehabilitation of mine sites including the removal or proper management of toxic waste.

Equitable Provision of Services

33. Adequate resourcing of rural and regional local governments to ensure the delivery of much-needed community services and the improvement and maintenance of local infrastructure. Where economies of scale severely restrict service viability then substitutes such as fast reliable internet services, rural transaction centres and shared facilities in public libraries and community centres are supported.

34. All children and young people in rural and regional areas have access to education and training from early childhood to school to TAFE and university.

35. Financial services in rural communities will be maintained through community partnership models with existing financial institutions and the encouragement of state-secured, rurally focused financial cooperatives.

36. Comprehensive provision of emergency services across regional and rural Victoria will be resourced.

37. Improved public transport through increased frequency, longer operating hours and better connectivity between services, with support for community owned and operated local transport.

38. Accessible, co-located and community-controlled service with a full range of comprehensive specialist services including drug, alcohol, disability, mental health, homelessness and family violence services.

39. More and varied rehabilitation resources for alcohol and drug addiction in rural and regional areas including residential treatment, counselling, legal services, crisis accommodation, training and family support.

40. Provision of reliable, fast internet services to rural and remote Victorians.

Preservation and Enhancement of Environmental, Cultural and Historical Resources

41. Provision of adequate and sustained resourcing for the effective management of state parks, state forests, water catchments and regional reserves.

42. Support for landholders to implement safe, effective, humane and regionally coordinated measures to control introduced pest animals and plants.

43. Development of low-impact tourist activities focussed on local ecology, culture and history with regional planning and local participation and employment.

44. Rural communities supported to enrich their culture through the establishment of regional galleries, recognition of Aboriginal heritage, and protection for historic buildings and sites.

45. Increased support for community-based club-level sporting and passive recreational facilities and opportunities.

Fair Consultation and Participation in Governance

46. Regional governance structures should reflect the general population with respect to gender balance and diversity of socio-economic and cultural groups.

 

Rural and Regional Policy as adopted by State Council on 17th May 2018.