GREG'S LEGACY

Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

Upper King Valley future – Part 3

with one comment


“Regional Australia is integral to Australia’s national identity. The many small towns of regional Australia are inextricably woven into our history, economy and society, having contributed significantly to the development of this country and its wealth.” … DAVID WHITE, Chairman
Wheatbelt Area Consultative Committee Inc (WA)

On 19 October 2005, the WA Wheatbelt ACC INC hosted a “Small Town Survival Conference” to analyse the future of small towns. Amongst the objectives, they investigated how to do away with small thinking and overcome parochialism; promote the spirit of regional communities as a pathway to achieving their survival; assess the issue of regionalising local government; and to develop a broader thinking within regions to consider development on a regional basis.

The big word here is “REGIONALISM”. Regionalism is about concentrating resources and people in regional centres and their satellite suburbs. It is the very antipathy of small town survival.

The Rural City of Wangaratta is also promoting regionalism – but they call it provincialism. This is a Victorian Government initiative splitting Victoria up into 11 ‘provinces’. The RCoW is in the North East Province along with Benalla, Wodonga, Bright, Rutherglen, Falls Creek and Mt Hotham ski resorts. It incorporates the following shires: Alpine Shire; Indigo Shire; Towong Shire; Rural City of Wangaratta; and the City of Wodonga.

Past RCoW Councillor and Mayor, Irene Grant spent a few years as the chair of this group of municipalities working to establish the North East Victoria Province. Now, Irene has never been seen to be the champion of small rural communities. Rather, her influence has been about centralism championing the current major projects taking place in the CBD and the satellite town of Glenrowan where she previously was the Ward Councillor.

Whilst all of these local government councils are working towards ‘regionalism’, they are not looking out for the small town communities in their ‘provincial thinking’. This can be seen with the many recent refusals by council to allow subdivision of rural land. The RCoW will not even allow ageing farmers to subdivide and sell off the rest of the farm to finance their retirement.

The fact that, “The many small towns of regional Australia are inextricably woven into our history, economy and society, having contributed significantly to the development of this country and its wealth” will not stop the movement towards regionalism.

It could however be the only thing worth fighting for to give future generations a view of how our nation was forged.

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Written by Greg Naylor

28 August 2008 at 12:00 am

Posted in social comment

One Response

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  1. You’ve hit the nail on the head with this post, Greg. I couldn’t agree more, particularly about councils not allowing houses to be built on rural lots less than 40 hectares in size unless it can be proven to support a viable agriculture operation.

    What is wrong with this ruling is it discourages new arrivals, who bring wealth to the rural communities – and even to the larger regional centres like Wang, who would benefit equally. It’s a real ‘shoot yourself in the foot’ policy and MUST be changed. The fact is a lot of older & smaller farms are just not viable so what is the problem in subdividing them down to say 10 acres and allowing people to build ‘lifestyle’ properties on them?

    This is an argument to get rid of State Governments and change the ‘three tiers’ to something like this:

    1. Federal Government
    2. Regional Governments
    3. Smaller local councils

    Some might say that increases costs but I’d argue that it would save costs by bringing government closer to the areas they govern.

    The State Govts are an archaic hangover from colonial days and can no longer serve their domains. There is just too big a gap between them and the next tier of local government, which are also trying to cover far too big an area.

    It’s a ‘pipe dream’ I guess but it should be looked at.

    raydixon

    28 August 2008 at 12:39 pm


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