Chance to win funding for region
THE election of the three Federal Independent rural MPs provided a golden opportunity to get a fairer share of infrastructure funding for the Northern Rivers, chairman of Regional Development Australia, Northern Rivers, Ian Tiley, said yesterday.
Speaking just days after RDA released its plan for the region, Mr Tiley said the election of the Independent MPs meant the Federal Government was finally listening to rural communities.
“In terms of access to ministers, we are in a really special position at this time and it’s quite exciting,” he said.
The regional plan – Vision to 2020, Strategy to 2012 – is the culmination of a year’s work by the regional development board and will act as a talking point as the board tours the region, consulting with stakeholders.
“We have identified the major problems and are now having a conversation with the various interests in the Northern Rivers about what are potential solutions,” Mr Tiley said.
While nominating faster broadband speeds and building basic infrastructure as crucial, he said the board wanted to talk to stakeholders about how the region could create a strong industry base to provide strong employment and career paths to keep people on the Northern Rivers.
“The plan is not just about environmental and social outcomes, we obviously need a strong and growing industry framework,” Mr Tiley said.
“This means a greater injection of infrastructure funding from Federal and State governments, a Pacific Highway upgrade to stop the carnage on the roads, water and sewerage funding, and replacing old timber bridges – all of that is part of the fabric of our region that needs funding support.”
Mr Tiley said the pressures on the region’s infrastructure would only increase, with the Northern Rivers experiencing faster population growth than most of the rest of the State.
“We are an attractive destination so it’s about making sure we can manage that growth, and ensuring the businesses and industry that does exist is well-positioned for the future,” he said.