THEY’RE COMING: Government opens floodgates to the region
They came from across the state with the promise that more were coming.
With a line-up of politicians, business people, public servants and even a celebrity chef in tow, Deputy Premier John Barilaro came to Maclean with the NSW's government renewed vision for regional NSW.
Borrowing a cliche that "if you build it, they will come", Mr Barilaro's vision also seemed to flip it on its head, promising that people would come to help further build the area in a post-COVID world.
With the major local announcement of a new regional job precinct to be based in the Richmond Valley, the event put forward the COVID-enforced changes to the 20-year economic vision of the current government, the major pillar a scheme to bring the public service away from Sydney, and into the regions.
"This announcement will see NSW Government public sector roles advertised from any location with 'regional location encouraged' and a commitment to increase the proportion of senior government roles in the regions by 2023," Mr Barilaro said.
"One thing we have learned in the past year is that you don't need to be tethered to a desk in Sydney CBD to do a variety of jobs.
"It's essential that the people who work to support this state are living and working in the communities they serve, making connections with locals, experiencing life in the regions and becoming fully immersed in the community.
"These principles will help to create a more flexible sector, taking more of the decision making out of Sydney and ensuring a greater geographical spread of staff living in regional communities."
Mr Barilaro said the Regional Workforce Principles and the Regional Education Strategy, also announced today, demonstrate the NSW Government's commitment to delivering its 20-Year Economic Vision for Regional NSW.
"After the impacts of natural disasters and a pandemic, it's clear our communities want a stronger, safer regional NSW, which is not only surviving, but thriving, and the 20-year Vision sets out a clear pathway forward," Mr Barilaro said.
"Whether people already live regionally or are making the tree-change, they want to know there will be job security, career progression and a great school for the kids to get a good start at life, and both of today's announcements tick those boxes."
Mr Barilaro committed the government to diversifying the energy mix of the state going forward, and although standing in an area that local member Chris Gulaptis had called for the ban on gas mining, lauded the technology in other areas of the state such as Narrabri, and emphasised how it had revitalised the rural area.
The event was hosted by nationally recognised chef and restaurateur Matt Moran, himself from a rural background who also hinted at a major rural announcement in the coming days.
Mr Moran championed the Yamba king prawn more than a quarter century ago, giving the industry one of its first local icons, and said his first visit back to the area came with a temptation to invest in our region.
"It's one of the most beautiful spots - I had a swim, saw some dolphins and some kangaroos."
And like many who come to the area, he said his next move was to Google where to find a good coffee, and look up the local real estate.
"There's a great little block just left on the beach, but it's a bit out of my price range," he said.
While the Clarence may have to wait for Mr Moran to become a local a bit longer, Mr Barilaro said that the local area, like others across the state was ready for an influx of population of people keen to get away from the city.
"The NSW Government has a plan to help our regions recover by creating thousands of new jobs and we are rolling out Regional Job Precincts to drive investment in regional communities to make it easier for businesses to set up shop," Mr Barilaro said.
"A precinct in the Richmond Valley will help to diversify industries in the Casino area by identifying value-adding opportunities for existing sectors, and we will be working with Richmond Valley Council and local stakeholders to realise the prospects that are on the horizon."
The deputy premier said the area was a clear choice for a Regional Job Precinct, due to its strengths in agriculture, renewable energy and manufacturing sectors, and became the second in the state following Albury, with more to be announced.
Mr Barilaro said there was still work to be done with regard to the growth of the area, and pledged an accelerated planning process and co-operation with local government to move projects forward.