Former Ballina MP Don Page has been appointed as the new chair of the Regional Development Australia Northern Rivers committee in a move described by opponents as a ‘job for a mate’.
Mr Page held the seat of Ballina for over 25 years as well positions of NSW Minister for Local Government and NSW Minister for the North Coast.
He retired prior to the last state election.
NSW Shadow Minister for the North Coast Walt Secord said he was disappointed with the appointment, describing Mr Page as a failed politician.
But NSW Minister for Regional Development Fiona Nash and NSW Minister for Regional Development John Barilaro said they were delighted with the appointment.
Senator Nash said that the RDA committees played a key role in growing stronger regions across the nation and ensuring that all three tiers of government worked together.
‘These committees advise on priority activities that have the potential to unlock regional economic development and improve the productivity of their regions,’ Senator Nash said.
‘RDA committees provide advice to the Government on critical issues affecting each region and are an important mechanism to increase access to Australian Government programmes in their communities.
‘The committees also assist local community stakeholders to develop project proposals and direct them to appropriate public and/or private funding sources – including the $1 billion National Stronger Regions Fund.
‘Don’s many years of experience and understanding of the roles of all three tiers of government will help further the work of the RDA Northern Rivers Committee in delivering their regional plan.’
Mr Barilaro said Mr Page’s appointment to the committee would support the RDA in its role to provide advice on economic development opportunities in the region.
Mr Secord said however that the appointment showed that the government was only interested in looking after ‘a mate’.
‘This was a missed opportunity and the post should have been given to a genuine community activist rather than a failed politician,’ he said.
‘The North Coast has dozens of senior figures who are qualified to undertake this position and the Nationals hand the job to a mate.
‘Community members have told me that they are disappointed that the only requirement for a Federal or State government appointment on the North Coast is a National Party membership ticket.’