Move growth from the city

Shepparton News - - VIEWPOINT -

Do we want the fu­ture state of Vic­to­ria with a su­per­sized Mel­bourne with as many peo­ple as New York City or a more bal­anced pop­u­la­tion with Shep­par­ton as one of the many larger re­gional cities across a di­verse state?

As Mel­bourne grows and grows, the Vic­to­rian Op­po­si­tion has de­clared pop­u­la­tion growth as one of the big is­sues for next year’s elec­tion.

State Na­tion­als leader Peter Walsh was out and about yes­ter­day promis­ing the Coali­tion would change our growth away from Mel­bourne and to­wards the re­gions. It makes sense. As Mel­bourne grows, the city is buck­ling un­der the stress.

A gen­er­a­tion of younger Mel­bur­ni­ans face be­ing locked out fi­nan­cially from ever buy­ing a house in the city they grew up in as the av­er­age home price reaches $1 mil­lion.

And as more and more outer sub­urbs are added to the grow­ing city, res­i­dents who can­not af­ford to live in the in­ner sub­urbs face in­creas­ing con­ges­tion, grid­locked streets and crowded trains.

And all at a time when re­gional Vic­to­ria cries out for pop­u­la­tion growth, as some parts of the state are ac­tu­ally pro­jected to lose res­i­dents in the com­ing decades.

De­cen­tral­i­sa­tion has been a buzzword across Aus­tralia in re­cent years, as more Aus­tralian states face the same prob­lem of cap­i­tal cities over­tak­ing the re­gions.

But de­spite to­kenis­tic pol­icy changes, like mov­ing the odd gov­ern­ment depart­ment from a cap­i­tal to a re­gional city, the num­bers are not mov­ing to the re­gions fast enough. Part of this is ob­vi­ous. When young pro­fes­sion­als get skilled up and en­ter the work­force, it is the cap­i­tal cities that can of­fer the op­por­tu­ni­ties and pay to at­tract the best.

The op­po­si­tion has not of­fered a so­lu­tion to re­verse this trend, but has promised more de­tailed poli­cies will be com­ing closer to the elec­tion.

If the Coali­tion do get the poli­cies right, it would be a good thing to see re­gional Vic­to­ria grow again, and get more jobs and in­dus­tries com­ing to Gee­long, Bal­larat, Bendigo and Shep­par­ton.

But big changes need to be made to change the growth in the next few decades.

The Coali­tion’s in­terim re­port lists trans­port, law and or­der, health, roads and jobs as some of the key ar­eas to fo­cus on.

Peo­ple in re­gional Vic­to­ria do feel that they are un­der­served when com­pared to the big city and spend­ing big to make the re­gions more live­able could be a good way to bring more peo­ple to re­gional Vic­to­ria.


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