Cross-border transport planning, a regional food strategy and trade relations with the Pacific will be on the agenda when Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin meets Regional Development Australia-Northern Rivers (RDA-NR) in Lismore tomorrow (Friday, December 11).

Ms Saffin thanked the new Board of RDA-NR, chaired by Cr Ian Tiley, for its recent $50,000 in-principle contribution towards developing an Integrated Regional Transport Plan for the Northern Rivers and south-east Queensland.

She said real momentum was building behind the plan because the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils (NOROC), led by Cr Jenny Dowell, had also decided to increase its original allocation from $40,000 to $70,000 for the project.

“Together with my Federal Parliamentary colleagues Brett Raguse (Forde) and Justine Elliot (Richmond), I am committed to working closely with NOROC on a submission aimed at attracting more funding to ensure the development of the plan,” she said.

“The support of seven local mayors and their councils, and now RDA-NR, shows that the Northern Rivers is fair dinkum about identifying and agreeing on our transport priorities and building a strong case to attract Nation-Building type funds.”

Ms Saffin said she had been impressed by Northern Rivers Food project, which RDA-NR had carriage of, and which focused on enhancing the reputation and capacity of the region’s food industry.

“I am keen to receive briefings on the Northern Rivers Food project, which includes developing a brand to promote the quality and freshness of locally grown and manufactured food, additionally the Food Links project, which primarily relates to food security,” she said.

“I’ve spoken with Southern Cross University expert in regional food and tourism, Rose Wright, on the idea of RDA-NR working in partnership with the university and NOROC on a Regional Food Supply Chain Strategy to better link producer with consumer and commercial user, and to ensure that no opportunities are missed.”

Ms Saffin will also discuss future trade opportunities with Pacific Island nations. She is Chair of the Trade Sub-Committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.

The committee is conducting an inquiry into Australia’s Trade and Investment Relations with Asia, the Pacific and Latin America.

One of its terms of reference is to investigate the role of the Government in assisting Australian companies, especially those in rural and regional areas, to maximise opportunities in the Asia-Pacific.