De­cen­tral­i­sa­tion a must for WA

Geraldton Guardian - - Opinion - Peter Fiorenza Peter Fiorenza is the host of SHL Sun­day 10-noon on Ra­dio MAMA. Tune in this week.

Aus­tralia is one of the most ur­banised coun­tries in the world.

Most Aussies live in cities close to the coast.

And one of the big­gest cities is Perth.

I’m led to be­lieve that our State cap­i­tal is the same size (in area) as Paris. Perth holds more than three-quar­ters of WA’s pop­u­la­tion.

Now, there is ob­vi­ously some ge­o­graph­i­cal rea­sons why most West Aus­tralians live in the south-west cor­ner but I be­lieve it’s a ridicu­lous sit­u­a­tion.

I’m no econ­o­mist but I’m think­ing, with some changes in govern­ment di­rec­tion, at­ti­tude and pol­icy, the wealth could be more evenly spread.

You could say the City of Perth stretches from Joon­dalup in the north, through to Man­durah’s out­ly­ing sub­urbs to the south, and the pop­u­la­tion is ser­viced by a mul­ti­tude of mod­ern shop­ping cen­tres and sub­se­quent in­dus­try.

In­deed, this is where the wealth of WA fam­i­lies is spent.

Many would say that this con­cen­tra­tion of growth is also a sign of the times.

The econ­omy is not as much in­flu­enced to­day by agri­cul­tural in­dus­tries, as in the past. Does it have to be this way? If things don’t change, Perth is just go­ing to keep on grow­ing.

It’s al­ready out­grown Ade­laide, and is steadily creep­ing up on Bris­bane.

Ex­perts will say that Queens­land and WA’s eco­nomic and ge­o­graphic in­flu­ences are dis­tinctly dif­fer­ent but I sit back and look at Queens­land and think that State seems to have the bal­ance right.

Bris­bane holds a lot of that State’s pop­u­la­tion but stretch­ing south, east and north, there are other sig­nif­i­cant pop­u­la­tion cen­tres.

Th­ese in­clude Ip­swich, Townsville, the Gold Coast, Rock­hamp­ton and Cairns, and with sim­ply a change in State Govern­ment at­ti­tude, I think, things could be a lit­tle like that here.

A bold pol­icy of de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion could start to not only spread out the pop­u­la­tion but also pay sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic div­i­dends.

I’m talk­ing firstly about the re­lo­ca­tion of govern­ment de­part­ments and as­so­ci­ated ini­tia­tives to re­gional cen­tres such as Ger­ald­ton.

For ex­am­ple, the fish­eries de­part­ment would suit Ger­ald­ton well, while the en­ergy one would be an ideal fit for a place like Kal­go­or­lie.

Mov­ing an en­tity such as this to a re­gional lo­ca­tion would bring with it em­ploy­ees and their fam­i­lies, which then would lead to more ex­tra ser­vices and trades to help cater for this.

The pop­u­la­tion would grow, and the econ­omy would be stim­u­lated greatly.

It would seem tough that the cur­rent Govern­ment doesn’t think such an idea has merit.

I re­cently put the ques­tion of de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion to Alan­nah MacTier­nan, Min­is­ter for Re­gional Devel­op­ment; Agri­cul­ture and Food.

Ms MacTier­nan, who also as­sists the Min­is­ter for State Devel­op­ment, Jobs and Trade, sim­ply brushed off the ques­tion, sug­gest­ing that Queens­land was a com­pletely dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tion to WA, and could not be com­pared.

She went on to sug­gest her govern­ment would al­ways be keen to in­ves­ti­gate com­mer­cial ideas for eco­nomic growth in re­gional WA.

Isn’t that like ex­pect­ing the cart to pull the horse?

But I’m no ex­pert.

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