Wealth creation not sole role
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.