RE­VEALED: The am­bi­tious plan to bring more peo­ple out west

The Western Star - - FRONT PAGE - ELLEN RANS­LEY

A FIRST home buy­ers grant could be the next draw­card for young fam­i­lies to live in the Mara­noa, af­ter Cr Cameron O’Neil pro­posed that Coun­cil look in to start­ing a scheme lo­cally.

WITH more than 500 prop­er­ties for sale through­out the 4455 post­code, one coun­cil­lor is con­sid­er­ing the po­ten­tial of a first home­own­ers grant scheme to drive peo­ple to in­vest in the Mara­noa.

At last week’s Mara­noa Re­gional Coun­cil meet­ing, Cameron O’Neil pro­posed a re­quest for an agenda re­port into a po­ten­tial grant scheme, which would bring more per­ma­nent res­i­dents back to Roma and sur­rounds.

Ac­cord­ing to Cr O’Neil, the Mara­noa re­gion is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a steady pop­u­la­tion de­cline from 13,066 in 2011 to 12,666 at the 2016 cen­sus. Over the same pe­riod the re­gion’s dwellings have in­creased by ap­prox­i­mately 380.

“The idea I’ve put to coun­cil has come from the wave we have seen in the in­crease and the soft­en­ing of the oil and gas sec­tor,” he said.

Cr O’Neil said he had seen the suc­cess of a num­ber of re­gional based first home-buy­ing ini­tia­tives through­out the coun­try that had en­cour­aged peo­ple to move to smaller towns and in­te­grate them­selves in the com­mu­nity.

“I wanted to look at what we could do, what could we fa­cil­i­tate as a coun­cil, I’m not say­ing nec­es­sar­ily fund, but we might, to have a pro­gram in place where peo­ple can get a lit­tle bit of a leg up to get them in our com­mu­nity and pur­chase the houses cur­rently for sale,” he said.

“If we get those peo­ple in our town, they in­vest in houses, in the com­mu­nity, they’ll have a fam­ily unit around them – it’s about get­ting them here.”

Coun­cil was unan­i­mous in their sup­port for Cr O’Neil’s pro­posal, which will now progress into form­ing a re­port for a fu­ture coun­cil meet­ing.

“I’m re­ally pleased that coun­cil was unan­i­mous in their sup­port for this, and that shows that we are all com­mit­ted to grow­ing our com­mu­nity and en­sur­ing that we are sus­tain­able long term,” Cr O’Neil said.

“At the end of the day, it’s about grow­ing our re­gion, and this isn’t just about Roma, it’s the whole Mara­noa.”

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