Lismore MP Thomas George.
Lismore MP Thomas George.

Lismore MP joins regional taskforce

LISMORE MP Thomas George has been selected to join a taskforce aimed at moving government department offices into regional areas.

Mr George is one of five MPs to be selected to join the Decentralisation Taskforce, which will be led by Northern Tablelands Independent Richard Torbay.

The remaining three MPs, Greg Aplin from Albury, Craig Baumann from Port Dtephens, and Paul Toole from Bathurst, are all members of the coalition.

In announcing the taskforce, Deputy Premier and Nationals leader Andrew Stoner said the taskforce would look for ways to help regional communities and businesses by relocating government facilities and to provide advice on the government's regional relocation grant, the regional component of the jobs action plan, the regional component of Restart NSW, and the Resources for Regions policy.

"The NSW Government has made it clear that boosting regional economies is a top priority and we are doing that through stimulating regional development, localising decision making and decentralising public sector staff," Mr Stoner said.

"The Decentralisation Taskforce will help build on the Government's decentralisation efforts, which has already seen departments such as NSW Fisheries and sections of Crown Lands relocate to regional NSW.

"The Taskforce will also advise the Government on key regional policies, and will consult with key stakeholders including Evocities, NSW Farmers, the Foundation for Regional Development, local councils and the CWA.

"The Decentralisation Taskforce will report back to the NSW Government by March 2013."

Mr George said the taskforce's first task would be to look for offices and facilities that could be moved to the regions.

However, he said it was important to move the right sorts of offices and facilities.

"It has to be more than political. It has to be sustainable," he said.

If there's a change of government ... we don't want them being moved back. They have to be departments that have a lifetime existence in regional areas.

Mr George suggested the office that handles gun licensing as one that was currently in Sydney but could operate from any town or city in the state.

While the taskforce had the potential to benefit the Northern Rivers, Mr George said he would have to work from a whole-of-state perspective rather than simply as an advocate for the region or his electorate.

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