Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean.
Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean. Inga Williams

Regional visits refreshing as no leadership talk: Crean

REGIONAL Australians are sick of the relentless public debate over the leadership of the Federal Labor Party, senior frontbencher Simon Crean said on Tuesday.

Mr Crean, the Regional Australia Minister, said every time he went outside the capital cities, he felt refreshed because he was actually asked about issues, rather than the internal divisions within the party.

"The only time I get asked about the Labor leadership is when I'm in a capital city," he said.

"When I go out to the regions, I get asked about issues important to people in those areas, and I often return refreshed."

While Mr Crean said he supported Prime Minister Julia Gillard, he also remained supportive of former PM Kevin Rudd to raise his profile in the community.

He said the problem the Labor Government was facing was that there was no "oxygen" to get the positive message out - too much media attention was begin placed on the leadership speculation, rather than on policy initiatives.

Mr Crean was speaking after giving a well-received address to the National Rural Women's Network conference in Canberra.

He told reporters that despite women representing 40% of all Regional Development Australia committee members, he wanted more women to get involved.

"The fact that there's less of them - the challenge is to get them involved," he said.

"There is a real opportunity to drive the co-ordination of governments at all levels in line with community needs."

"We're working through the regional development body; we're getting cooperation with state and territory governments.

"The simple message is we've got the framework in place ... join the dots - that's the simple message."


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