Vaile on back foot
By Alex Easton email@example.com
DEPUTY Prime Minister Mark Vaile arrived on the Northern Rivers on Friday with $110 million in his pocket for roads.
But rather than talking about the money during his Lismore press conference, Mr Vaile spent his time defending the Government's Regional Partnerships Program and WorkChoices.
The Nationals Leader announced $10 million to upgrade the Mt Lindesay Road between Woodenbong and Legume and a further $100 million to build 100 new rest areas beside Auslink roads around the nation.
Mr Vaile called for State governments to join forces and match the Commonwealth's $100 million and lift the number of new rest spots to 200.
He said the upgrade of the Mt Lindesay Road would help businesses in the region, such as the Casino meatworks.
Mr Vaile defended WorkChoices, saying the introduction of the 'fairness test' into the legislation made sure workers' protections were not lost.
He also defended the Regional Partnerships Program which came under intense criticism last week, saying changes had been implemented since the period examined by the Auditor General.
"No decision taken during the life of the Regional Partnerships Program has been pork-barrelling," Mr Vaile said, referring to the Auditor General's report which found the Federal Government used the Regional Partnerships Program to pork-barrel Coalition electorates before the 2004 election.
Mr Vaile accused the Labor Party of describing 'any money spent in regional Australia as pork-barrelling'.