Thursday, 23 June 2016
IN State Parliament last night, I called on the NSW Government to consider the great advantages of locating more of the State’s public service in Armidale.
The arguments in favour of decentralisation to Armidale (or regionalisation, as I prefer to call it) are numerous.
They have already been argued on the Federal stage by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce. I was with Mr Joyce when he announced recently that the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority will be moved from Canberra to Armidale, and I believe the same logic applies to this State’s Public Service.
As I laid out in a Private Member’s Statement on the floor of Parliament last night, State Government does not need to be run from Sydney. The public service can be managed just as well, if not better and more cheaply, from a regional centre.
The interruption to State services would be minimal, but the advantages to the region would be huge. When we bring more people into a small city like Armidale, there is an immediate effect on growth and investment.
In my statement, I made a long list of Armidale’s attributes – because the list is genuinely long.
Firstly, it is the only Australian city of any size to be completely linked to the world by fibre. Every business, every house, is wired into the NBN’s world-class fibre network, so that anywhere in this small city you can access broadband data at speeds better than found through most of our capital cities.
We also link to the world through two airlines that make 16 flights a day, with a third to start running daily flights to Brisbane in August.
Armidale is a wonderfully family-friendly city. Most regional centres have space and sporting facilities, but Armidale also boasts the whole gamut of schools – private, public, Catholic and alternative – a renowned university, and a situation that provides its residents access to some of Australia’s greatest wilderness, including several World Heritage Areas.
I’m asking this government to do some smart, strategic thinking about where it locates its agencies.
I think that, as with the AVPMA move, there is a chance here to relocate government departments in ways that create clusters of effort. In regional cities, with their small communities and ease of movement, we can built better synergies between delivery of services or provision of online and digital services.
With all this in mind, I am appealing to the Government to give serious consideration to regionalization – particularly with Armidale in mind.
I will be following this call up with one-on-one meetings with key Ministers in the coming weeks