Wealth creation not sole role

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Letters - Peter Baker, Prev­elly

Dr Bar­bara Maid­ment’s open let­ter to the Times (Wealth creation plan’s fo­cus, 14/7) de­cries so­cial­ist forces shap­ing the Au­gusta-Mar­garet River Shire’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment strat­egy.

I dis­agree. The cur­rent strat­egy clearly iden­ti­fies primary in­dus­try as a high value-adding ac­tiv­ity, as well as tourism and cre­ative in­dus­tries.

It is not the role of lo­cal govern­ment to sim­ply de­velop a plan to cre­ate wealth.

Its role is to man­age the lo­cal com­mu­nity for the ben­e­fit of that com­mu­nity as a whole, which it is do­ing through its Draft 2036 Com­mu­nity Strate­gic Plan.

A wealth creation plan ex­pects to cap­ture all the profit of its growth pro­gram and claims the wealth will trickle down fairly through the com­mu­nity, while the dis­ad­van­tages, such as ris­ing house prices, traf­fic con­ges­tion and lo­cal govern­ment rev­enue spent on in­fra­struc­ture, are so­cialised.

Lo­cal govern­ment does have a role in so­cial jus­tice. The nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, for ex­am­ple, soil, bio­di­ver­sity, na­tive forests, air, rivers and coast­lines are crit­i­cal cap­i­tal as­sets in the draft AMR Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Strat­egy.

It would be ir­re­spon­si­ble to per­mit wealth-cre­at­ing ac­tiv­i­ties that dam­aged these as­sets.

Our nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment also has value as “goods and ser­vices” for its aes­thetic, recre­ational and health-sus­tain­ing prop­er­ties.

Our Shire coun­cil should be com­mended for its proac­tive lead­er­ship in in­creas­ing com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pa­tion in lo­cal govern­ment de­ci­sion-mak­ing.

WA has ex­pe­ri­enced a mas­sive in­crease in wealth over the past few decades, but this growth has had cu­mu­la­tive so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal down­sides.

I think we are for­tu­nate to have so many cit­i­zens with a so­cial con­science who are pre­pared to vol­un­teer their time for the de­vel­op­ment and stew­ard­ship of our com­mu­nity.

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