The Senate Inquiry into decentralising Commonwealth departments from cities into regional areas has received submissions supporting decentralisation from Manning Valley business entities.
The Manning Valley Business Chamber, Wingham lawyer Quentin Schneider and Hallidays Point business consultant Claire Pontin all supported decentralisation in their submissions, with a strong emphasis on the difference that decentralisation can make to regional areas, the ways regions can deliver services and the benefits to government departments and their employees.
All three submissions strongly promote Taree as a possible location for government agencies, citing the NBN, our convenient location to Newcastle and Sydney, the lower cost of living and ready supply of employees for support positions, and the benefit to employees who have relocated.
Most of Taree is connected to the NBN by fibre to the premises, enabling use of audio and video conferences for meetings, a fact that was pointed out by Quentin Schnieder.
“The NBN makes geography irrelevant,” Mr Schnieder said in his submission.
Taree’s close location to Newcastle and Sydney and the availability of air travel due to Taree’s airport, and the major domestic airport at Newcastle makes transport to major population areas readily available.
The lower cost of expenses to government agencies is an attractive proposition.
“Costs for commercial leases and associated services can be as much as 50 to 60 per cent less in our region than capital cities,” the Manning Valley Business Chamber said in its submission.
There is also a ready supply of people who need jobs. The region has an extremely high unemployment rate, quoted as being 10.5 per cent in mid 2016, which is double the national average, by the Manning Valley Business Chamber.
As for higher level positions, the lower cost of living could be a large attraction for public servants to move to our area, with housing affordability a massive issue in major cities.
“A four bedroom home on a quarter acre block near the Manning River will only cost around $450,000 to $520,000,” the Manning Valley Business Chamber states, adding that this puts a lot less stress on families. Quentin Schneider adds non-existent traffic problems and locations to beaches to the attractions.
Claire Pontin makes a point that “decentralisation should not be confined to agricultural policy or regulatory agencies,” in her submission. “Because all these agencies need to consult and deliver services widely, there is no particular geographical advantage of being located in an urban or a regional area,” she said.