Why the Northern Rivers deserves more than lip service
IF I hear one more politician or expert commentator say 'we need to do more for regional Australia' I think I'm going to spew.
How many times have you heard that phrase over the years and then nothing more concrete ever comes from it?
For my mind, doing more for regional Australia, is more than opening a new school hall, or pool, or fixing roads or bridges, for that matter.
Yes, that sort of stuff helps, but regional Australia needs some big strategic thinking attached to real outcomes that are measurable.
It's unacceptable, for example, that for big things like internet speeds, life expectancy, public transport and wage parity, people living in regional areas are second class citizens compared with their city cousins.
We are all equal, right? We all pay taxes, we all vote, after all.
There are reports that more than 15,000 jobs have been lost in northern NSW since the pandemic began.
I would argue that a job lost in regional Australia is almost twice as bad as someone losing their job in the city.
Jobs are so scarce in the bush, it means finding another one in the same field in the same town or region is far less likely.
That's why we need to hold on to the jobs we have and have a plan for a quick uptake once this pandemic is over.
A regional rescue fund or JobBushkeeper has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?
While some industries, like tourism, have been decimated, there are probably others, such as our primary producers that are doing quite well.
In a welcome move, Page MP Kevin Hogan and Tim Williamson from RDA Northern Rivers recently launched the North Coast NSW Employment Strategy and Action Plan.
But we need more. We need our politicians lobbying hard, using their whip hand in the Coalition to ensure regions like the Northern Rivers make a fast start post COVID-19.