Regional Investment Corporation to go ahead as Coalition agrees to changes
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Regional Investment Corporation to go ahead as Coalition agrees to changes

An electorate where the Nationals suffered a historic loss will host a new agency after a bill passed the Senate with crossbench support.

The Coalition move to establish the Regional Investment Corporation triggered a Senate stand-off last year over the agency, which the government will put in Orange, where the National party lost a 69-year-old hold on power in a 2016 state byelection.

Barnaby Joyce has said the government considered several regional cities for the Regional Investment Corporation.

Barnaby Joyce has said the government considered several regional cities for the Regional Investment Corporation.

Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

After securing crossbench support, the government pushed through the bill allowing the corporation to open at the heart of the NSW state seat of Orange, now held by the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party.

Critics lashed the government's decision to locate the agency in the central-west NSW city in May, accusing Nationals leader and former Agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce of pork barrelling in response to his party's byelection loss.

The bill passed with changes put forward by Labor it said would stop the agency being exploited politically.

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Labor agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said the Regional Investment Corporation was poor public policy.

"The case for the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars on this new entity has not been established and Labor continues to reject what we believe to be a political stunt and a shocking pork barrel," he said.

Mr Joyce has previously said the government considered several regional cities for the agency, including Albury-Wodonga, Bathurst, Bendigo, Lithgow, Toowoomba and Wagga Wagga.

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Labor says none of these locations were given the chance to fairly compete to host the corporation.

The Coalition's new Agriculture minister, David Littleproud, was approached for comment.

Doug Dingwall

Doug Dingwall is a reporter for The Canberra Times covering the public service and politics.

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