The Independent put a few questions to Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis, who is also the Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Roads and Infrastructure, just prior to the launch.
GH: Who is paying for this function?
CG: I understand the NSW Government is paying for it, because it’s a NSW Government announcement and initiative.
GH: I’ve never heard of one done in a pub before?
CG: It’s a terrific venue, Sanctus. It’s a new venue and fairly consistent with the message that we [the government] are putting out there. We are looking at a vision for NSW and this is the sort of thing [entrepreneurial proprietors investing in their businesses] we envisage into the future: modern facilities that the community can relate to; something that would be at home in inner city Melbourne or Sydney – we’ve got it right in Maclean, which is fabulous.
GH: Who and how were the people chosen to attend the launch today?
CG: A lot of the people here are [leaders] from local government, from business, from community organisations. The vision for regional NSW will encompass all of those sectors. So it’s about everybody who lives in regional NSW.
GH: Given that the Clarence Valley is not one of the most significant regions in the ‘vision’, being rated at the lower end for population and jobs growth, why is it important that the launch is happening here?
CG: It’s a stamp of approval to what’s been happening in the Clarence Valley. We’ve seen major investment in the Clarence Valley from the state and federal governments – the Pacific Highway upgrade, roads, bridges, hospitals, [the Clarence Correctional Centre] – so as a community we are starting to see the benefits of those investments and that is going to play into our vision of the future; and we want to control that vision.
GH: Over recent times around the country, governments have handed out more money to local governments and businesses than ever before; what happens when that money runs out, given a lot of it is borrowed?
CG: Hopefully, business will be stimulated and it will start generating money; and that money will circulate through the community because business is active, it’s doing well, it’s prosperous – and that’s what this is about, stimulating the economy, because we know it’s in a bit of a slump [and] we know that the pandemic has had a big impact on businesses and communities, so we’re trying to stimulate and support businesses and then they can take over some of the heavy load.