Newcastle and Wollongong are not regional centres
DRC Mayor Ben Shields told a Parliamentary enquiry that Newcastle and Wollongong should not be classed as “regional” when dishing out funding designed for regions.
On Tuesday, March 27, Shields and council’s CEO Michael Mcmahon gave evidence at the parliamentary enquiry into Regional Development and a Global Sydney at State Parliament House.
“I wanted to place on record that recent attempts by various people to argue that Wollongong and Newcastle and its surrounds is ‘regional’ is not accepted by people living in the actual regions.
“It’s a bit rich for MPS and others to start redefining what we all know as ‘regional’ just weeks after it was announced that the $4.2 billion Snowy Hydro proceeds were promised exclusively to ‘Regional’ NSW.
“But blame can be shared with the State because of the obscure and inconsistent ways they identify and define ‘regions’.
“Newcastle and Wollongong are both classified differently by the state and federal governments. On one hand, the state says they are ‘regional’ when dealing with council mergers. Then on the other hand, for some programs the state classifies them as ‘metro’ when arranging sports infrastructure funding. These examples are just some of many inconsistencies.
“Over the years, various definitions have caused confusion which has given rise to dubious claims like Wollongong and Newcastle should be in a regional category when it comes to funding,” Cr Shields said.
“I was pretty annoyed when I heard MPS based in the Wollongong area arguing they were ‘regional’ when they are clearly not. So, I urged the parliamentary enquiry to set a consistent standard in geographical definitions so everyone knows exactly where the funding goal posts are.
“I was also keen to make a point to the enquiry that if we are fair dinkum about the various funding allocations based on terminology of geographic definitions, we need a consistent series of classifications that are not just ‘metro’ and ‘regional’.
“Take for example the seven inland Evo-cities of Dubbo, Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Orange, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga. All of these large, regional centres have vastly different needs and aspirations to smaller towns in the state. It’s pretty obvious to me that they need a classification system that incorporates the various types of regions.
“The state shouldn’t let confusion and ill-defined categories determine unprecedented funding opportunities for the bush,” Mayor Shields said.
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