FED UP with the metropolitan monopoly, Armidale councillor Peter Bailey wants $5 million from the state government to promote regional growth.
A sandstone mega-region of 10 million people has been proposed to stretch from Newcastle to Woolongong linked by high speed rail.
“If the answer is to build a mega-metropolis from Newcastle through to Wollongong then we’re asking the wrong question,” he said.
“The answer is not to make what’s already there even bigger and more unlivable, with more unaffordable housing – the answer is to find ways to encourage people to leave Sydney and come and live in regional areas.”
The ten largest population growth areas in New South Wales were all within Greater Sydney in 2016 to 2017, Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows.
Sydney also represented the ten fastest-growing places in the state, but compared to other capital cities it saw the most people move out of the city to other centres in NSW.
Seven regional cities, including Tamworth and Armidale, are part of the Evocities campaign to encourage people to live, work and invest in regional towns.
Membership is $75,000 per council, but Cr Bailey said the pot of more than half a million dollars still isn’t enough to persuade city-slickers to move to the country.
“The greatest challenge we are facing, and the state government has spent a fortune on infrastructure, but we still haven’t addressed the fundamental problem to build the awareness of opportunities on offer in the region,” he said.
“I think the problem is that we are very good at talking about what we need, but we’re doing very little in the space of how do we encourage people to leave and how do we encourage businesses to invest.”
Armidale Regional Council is headed to Parliament House in Sydney in August to speak with city investors about lucrative business in the region.
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said the state government already has programs available to pitch in.
“We are marketing the region and all of country NSW, we’re spending nearly $45 million in the next few years in marketing not just Northern Tablelands but a lot of areas of NSW,” he said.
“And not just to places like Sydney but interstate as well.”
Mr Marshall said there will be “a hell of a lot more” funding in Tuesday’s state budget announcement for regional infrastructure.
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