REGIONAL cities could have an enormous bearing on the upcoming state election and a stern warning has been issued to all sides of politics as the vote looms.
“Ignore us at your peril”.
Tamworth mayor Col Murray said elections gone-by have been mired in city-centric concerns and subsequent policies have led to a sense of neglect among the state’s regional people.
Cr Murray was recently named the inaugural chairman of the newly-formed Regional Cities NSW group.
It’s a group the long-serving Tamworth mayor helped devise and with the combined power of 15 NSW councils, it’s hoped to become the state government’s go-to counsel for regional policies and issues.
It is an auspicious time for the group to officially form with electioneering in full swing around the state.
Cr Murray, however, made it clear it was “not a militant organisation” and “definitely apolitical”.
When pressed, Cr Murray said there wasn’t one key issue the group were preparing to fight for during the election, but population and Snowy Hydro Legacy funding strategies have been suggested previously.
Despite its apolitical nature, the first item on the agenda was the development of a memorandum of understanding with the current deputy premier.
Cr Murray said his new group would be working the opposition too.
“We're looking for some kind of economy of scale or capacity to have a broader regional conversation without being outgunned by the larger metros,” he said.
“I would suggest any government will ignore us at own peril.
“We’re working on strategies to get better deal.”
While he was stoked to be chair the group, Cr Murray admitted it would be a juggle with other commitments and Tamworth would always come first.
“Positions like this offer significant opportunities for interactions in Sydney and Canberra,” he said.
The Regional Cities NSW groups include representatives from: Evocities councils and Cessnock, Coffs Harbour, Griffith, Lismore, Maitland, Port Macquarie, Queanbeyan, and Tweed Heads.