VotE Purple Paper Issue 2: 13 January 2019
Ensuring the Dubbo electorate has the support it needs for regional growth and investment is paramount in my endeavour to produce results as I campaign to become your independent representative. Several initiatives are currently in place to highlight the wonderful areas we have in this electorate; however, funding has been made scarce over time and we risk losing the full potential these organisations have to offer.
Organisations such as Evocities, Regional Development Australia Orana and Regional Capitals Australia are essential in developing the hidden treasures this electorate possesses, but as with any organisation funding is crucial.
“WE NEED INITIATIVES THAT ARE GOING TO TELL THE METRO AREAS ABOUT THE WONDERFUL AREAS WE HAVE IN THIS ELECTORATE. WE NEED MONEY TO DO THAT.”
All State funding has been removed from Evocities despite proven results of over 3,500 households relocating across the seven regional cities as a known direct result of the program. The funding for the initiative is currently being entirely left to the seven Councils despite the obvious benefits to the government of reducing the population pressure in Sydney.
As a former Chair of Evocities and as the founder of the richest MTB series in the nation based around the Evocities concept, I saw first hand the exceptional results that were being achieved by Evocities. If successful come the election I will propose the government matches the Evocities funding contributed by the Councils meaning a government contribution of $560,000 in the next financial year.
Regional Development Australia Orana (RDA) is in its tenth year of operation in what once was an organisation jointly funded by the Federal and State Governments. A year ago, this State Government removed all funding from RDA. If a government is serious about regional development it needs to provide the funds to promote that regional development. RDA Orana was previously funded to the tune of $150,000 annually.
The removal of this income has pushed RDA Orana to generate income via fee for service work which includes RDA Orana charging to bring people from overseas to work in regional areas. With unemployment in Sydney sitting at four per cent, there are over 200,000 people in Sydney looking for work. Providing funds to an organisation such as RDA Orana to facilitate the movement of people and businesses from metro areas to regional areas makes more sense than sourcing people from overseas. If elected, I would propose to reinstate funding to RDA Orana and increase the figure to $200,000 to allow them to concentrate on growing regional areas.
Regional Capitals Australia (RCA) is another organisation that I have observed from both the inside and the outside. Dubbo City Council joined RCA soon after its formation in 2012 and I sat on the board shortly thereafter. Across the 50 regional capitals in Australia the population is similar to that of a Sydney or a Melbourne and the regional capitals contribute $225 billion every year to the Australian economy.
This organisation, which promotes and represents regional capitals across the nation, is funded by Member Councils, once again leaving the burden of regional promotion to Councils. If elected, I would propose that the government matches the contribution made by the Councils in NSW therefore allowing RCA to contribute more research and better outcomes to the regional capitals across Australia.
These initiatives come at a cost to the government but if any government is serious about regional development, that government needs to put money on the table. Increasing growth in regional areas will allow areas in the electorate to maintain services and businesses such as health, banking and government services. It will make it easier to justify additional expenditure on infrastructure and it will ease the burden on the growing population of Sydney. It is also relevant to think of the miniscule cost to the government of these initiatives compared to the $4.3 billion this government has been prepared to spend on light rail and new stadia in Sydney. Regional growth does not need light rail or new stadia. It needs a government prepared to back regional areas.
With ongoing funding from the State Government, these three organisations can promote career and lifestyle, easing of financial pressures, community and family, and investment in regional capitals. Many areas in this electorate have the capacity to accommodate further growth and are a viable and immediate option to address the crippling congestion issues in metro areas. Unemployment rates are low across this electorate and there is surplus housing availability allowing growth to occur immediately.
Councillor Kevin Mack, mayor of Albury and chair of Evocities, said Evocities is no longer simply a market platform, but an invaluable initiative which is producing results by penetrating the metro market.
“Our research has shown that people will often be attracted to the larger city in an area, such as Dubbo, but then move out to the surrounding towns so although Evocities has a focus on the central city it also delivers benefits to the surrounding towns, such as Wellington and Narromine,” he said.
Councillor Mack believes independent representation will prove beneficial in moving forward. “As an independent you have a stronger voice for your electorate, provide the community access to your office and provide information to the government of the day. How can they ignore that,” he said.
Mayor Shane Van Styn, mayor of the City of Greater Geraldton and Deputy Chair of RCA said his organisation plays a vital role in growing regional capital cities by advocating for more investment to occur in regional Australia. “Research commissioned RCA made the case for businesses and people to move from major capital cities into regional Australia, creating more jobs and ensuring more services and important infrastructure is funded by the Australian Government,” Mayor Van Styn Said.