New govt. department to focus on NSW regional communities

A new Department of Regional NSW has been established to coordinate support for communities, businesses and farmers affected by bushfires, floods and Covid-19.

The department will bring together the divisions of Primary Industries, Local Land Services, Resources and Geoscience to form a central agency dedicated to regional issues.

It will be headed by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s coordinator general of Regional NSW, Gary Banes.

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the department will also provide a voice for people in the bush as well as streamlining regional issues and bringing together experts in primary industries, land management, resources, regional development, drought response and bushfire recovery.

“The new [department] will be a voice in government for people in the bush,” he said, “and will have a laser-like focus on the challenges and opportunities unique to regional communities, helping them to get through hardships many of us have not seen in our time.”

The department will help deliver recent bushfire and COVID-19 stimulus and industry recovery packages as well as drought initiatives. It will also oversee the $1.7 billion Regional Growth Fund and the $4.2 billion Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund.