THERE are plenty of challenges ahead in 2013, but the year looks set to start on a positive footing.
A recent poll indicates Australians are less pessimistic about the year ahead and hopefully that sentiment will help boost consumer spending.
While on the world scale our economy has weathered the fiscal storm which has eroded most other major markets, the retail and manufacturing sectors have battled on in tough conditions.
The housing market has remained static, but the indicators are that the year ahead should deliver improved economic growth.
Locally, the Tamworth economy is gearing up for its annual country music festival, which since it began 41 years ago has injected an estimated $2 billion into the Country Music Capital.
In recent years there has been plenty of hard work applied to improve and update the festival to ensure its long-term future.
While many other centres envy what Tamworth has, the city needs to apply plenty of effort to defend and grow what it has developed over four decades.
Country music festivals are commonplace these days and if Tamworth is not on guard, competitors could take away some of the festival market which has delivered significant benefits to the city.
Overcoming Tamworth’s law and order issues will remain a priority in 2013. The NOW project to revitalise Coledale will get under way, and so will the development of the new Tamworth hospital. The North West Cancer Centre will open before Easter, saving a long line of patients trips out of the region for life-saving treatment.
The federal government needs to tackle the mounting national debt. Improved economic conditions will help with that.
And while the Australian dollar continues to punch above its weight, a fall in the value of the currency would be welcome by manufacturers and primary producers.
The federal election, expected in the last quarter of this year, will ensure there are no nasty legislative surprises. The three-year political cycle normally means good news in an election year.
There is, however, one element we have no control over and that is the weather.
While more tropical cyclones are expected this year, let’s hope none are as devastating as Yasi and that they keep away from the Australian mainland. Bushfires are a big concern this summer and the potential for serious floods also exists.
Rain in steady supply would be good, as farmers are in desperate need of sub-soil moisture to enable the sowing of summer crops.
While the challenges are numerous, Australia and the region have faced bigger hurdles in years gone by.