TAMWORTH is precariously close to getting a full-blown university, but we’re at a delicate crossroad.
The Leader understands the state government sees a university in Tamworth as vital to the city’s future, particularly given its plans to eventually grow Tamworth to a population of 100,000 people.
There has been a great deal of hard work and behind the scenes negotiations to get the campaign to this point. The University of New England, Tamworth Regional Council and the NSW government all appear to be ready to make a big commitment.
However, a development of this magnitude needs the support of all three tiers of government.
The state government, who would provide most of the funding for the campus, is hesitant to make a commitment without the support of its federal counterpart.
New England MP Barnaby Joyce and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack are making all the right noises and investigating different funding avenues.
But the pressure is on them and the federal government to come up with the money soon.
Backers of the campus want to see an announcement now – the NSW government goes in to caretaker mode at the end of the month, due to the impending March 23 election.
No funding decisions can be made after that until the next term of government, so to lock the money in, it has to be on the books before February 28.
Until the state government has a commitment from the federal government, or at least the sense of an impending commitment, it will hold off on making any announcement.
Supporters of the Tamworth university campus want to see a big turn out to the community meeting next week on February 13, which they hope will convey a sense of urgency to the federal government.
It’s hoped the groundswell of support at the meeting will tip the scales, and start a snowball effect.
The community meeting will be held on February 13, at West Leagues Club in the Ken Chillingworth room from 6pm.