Push for decentralisation
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.”
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.