NEW DEAL: Fraser Coast mayor George Seymour, Hinkler MP Keith Pitt and Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack announcing a Regional Deal for Bundaberg and Hervey Bay.
NEW DEAL: Fraser Coast mayor George Seymour, Hinkler MP Keith Pitt and Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack announcing a Regional Deal for Bundaberg and Hervey Bay. Annie Perets

Deal makes Bundy envy of regional Australia

KEITH Pitt jokingly admits he's not that popular in Canberra.

And he reckons he's even more unpopular at the moment among his fellow regional MPs after securing the nation's first Regional Deal for the Hinkler electorate.

Speaking to the NewsMail yesterday Mr Pitt was in a buoyant mood, saying Tuesday's announcement was a huge coup for Bundaberg and the broader Hinkler electorate.

Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack announced the electorate would be the pilot site for a Regional Deal, which is set to stimulate the region's struggling economy.

For Mr Pitt the announcement secures his second signature policy of the year, following the passing of the Cashless Debit Card in September.

The card will roll out in January.

Mr Pitt said the cashless card and Regional Deal were part of a two-pronged approach he'd been working on all year and went hand in hand.

"On one side we're trying to improve those social challenges (with the cashless card), and the Regional Deal is about driving the economy and producing more local jobs," Mr Pitt said.

He urged the other tiers of government to contribute and maximise the potential of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

However, he was hesitant to lock in specific contribution ratios, such as 50-50, and said details would be looked at on the merits of each case.

"We need them (State Government) to be on board and contribute substantially," Mr Pitt said.

"The success of how strong this Regional Deal is will come down to what contributions we can get from everybody.

"This is the first one of its type in a region ... The Department of Infrastructure will be the lead aid federally, and there will be discussions between us and the State Government and then local government."

Townsville's City Deal is still in the infancy of its 15-year lifespan and is already delivering massive results for that region.

Mr Pitt said at this stage he couldn't say how long the Hinkler Deal would run for and said it would be part of the discussions with the other tiers of governments.

He said decentralising a government department into the region would be a huge catalyst and he cited examples in other parts of the country where it had worked.

"They are highly paid, highly skilled jobs that sustain the economy which generally means more families and more local kids in schools and universities."



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