Push for de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY SARAH SCULLY

Hor­sham Ru­ral City Coun­cil will re­it­er­ate its strong sup­port of the de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion of gov­ern­ment bod­ies to re­gional ar­eas in a sub­mis­sion to a Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment in­quiry.

The coun­cil’s sub­mis­sion to the In­quiry into the In­di­ca­tors of, and Im­pact of, Re­gional Equal­ity – May 2018, fo­cuses on de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion, trans­port and con­nec­tiv­ity, in­fras­truc­ture and ed­u­ca­tion.

Coun­cil lead­ers con­sulted with Lon­gerenong Col­lege and Wim­mera De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion to dis­cuss is­sues rel­e­vant to the re­gion.

Mayor Pam Clarke praised the work of coun­cil staff who contribute­d to the sub­mis­sion.

“It is re­ally clear and pre­cise,” she said.

“This is a re­ally important doc­u­ment. It’s vi­tal for the gov­ern­ment to see how we are dis­ad­van­taged in a ru­ral set­ting and how of­ten we – and the needs we have as a ru­ral city – are over­looked by gov­ern­ment.”

Cr Clarke said Hor­sham was a key part of the Wim­mera-south­ern Mallee.

“And as a ru­ral cap­i­tal, we are a very important city for this re­gion,” she said.

The coun­cil will ad­vo­cate for the im­por­tance of re­gional cap­i­tals to en­sure strong and sus­tain­able re­gional and ru­ral ar­eas.

This in­cludes a proac­tive stance on de­vel­op­ment; ef­fec­tive re­gional ad­vo­cacy; strong com­mu­nity en­gage­ment; em­brac­ing in­no­va­tion and new tech­nol­ogy; and ro­bust strate­gic plan­ning for sus­tain­able growth.

Cr Clarke said de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion to en­ti­ties and op­er­a­tions to re­gional Aus­tralia could pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tages for both large cap­i­tal cities and re­gional cen­tres.

“We had lots of talk a few months ago from both the fed­eral and state gov­ern­ments about de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion, but we’ve not seen any­thing,” she said.

“There’s been no con­sul­ta­tion and there has been no real ac­tion on de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion.”

In­vest­ment

Cr Clarke said it was important to note dis­cus­sion and plan­ning for de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion should in­clude con­tin­ued in­vest­ment in con­nec­tiv­ity – high-speed in­ter­net and mo­bile cov­er­age – and trans­porta­tion, par­tic­u­larly the re­turn of pas­sen­ger rail to western Vic­to­ria and the du­pli­ca­tion of the Western High­way.

“Rail ser­vices are so important to our com­mu­nity,” she said.

“We have the high­est mor­tal­ity rate for cancer in the state and a lot of that is to do with the fact we do not have ad­e­quate pub­lic trans­port for peo­ple who are un­well and need to get to ap­point­ments and treat­ment.

“These are real is­sues for our com­mu­nity – we need to keep stand­ing up and say­ing how it is for us.”

Ed­u­ca­tion – in par­tic­u­lar a need for fund­ing to sup­port fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion and job cre­ation to at­tract and re­tain pro­fes­sional work­ers in re­gional ar­eas – was also a key part of the sub­mis­sion.

Cr John Robin­son said he was ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed Lon­gerenong Col­lege missed out on fund­ing to pro­vide free agri­cul­tural cour­ses, some­thing he would like to see rec­ti­fied.

He said be­ing ‘at the poor end of the power grid’ was an­other sig­nif­i­cant is­sue.

“We need to in­clude that as a sig­nif­i­cant dis­ad­van­tage. It’s stop­ping in­vest­ment in this area,” he said.

“Our re­new­able en­ergy in­dus­try is go­ing to top-out and we won’t have the ca­pac­ity to grow in that area.”

Cr David Grim­ble said he would like to see ref­er­ences to the im­por­tance of air ser­vices and the ports of Port­land and Gee­long added to the sub­mis­sion.

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