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Deputy Premier John Barilaro shared his vision, to grow regional NSW, at Sanctus Brewing Company on Wednesday February 3. Images: Geoff Helisma.

Government backs growth to invigorate the regions

Geoff Helisma|


New South Wales Deputy Premier John Barilaro has relaunched the government’s 20-Year Economic Vision for Regional NSW at Sanctus Brewing Company, Townsend.

Over 100 people – consisting of governmental leaders, local business people, media representatives and invited guests – attended the relaunch on Wednesday February 3.

The updated vision, the government says, “identifies emerging sectors and future industries for government investment, includes 50 new priorities to drive long-term stimulus impact, underpins investment in the regions from now until 2038, sets out a plan for jobs and population growth in regional NSW and leverages remote and altered working patterns that have emerged as a result of COVID-19”.

Facilitating the growth of industry, agriculture, mining, tourism, etcetera across the state, with a goal of making it easier for people to be born, raised and work in their local region was the main message communicated by Mr Barilaro and NSW Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell.

Celebrity chef Matt Moran, who was seconded to MC the event, said it had been 25 years since he was last in Yamba and talked up its prawns as “possibly the best in the world”.

Yaegl Elder Trevor Kapeen, who gave the welcome to country, took the opportunity to thank the NSW Government for approving a grant to purchase a second-hand bus.

He said his daughter had been “sourcing grants from the government to help young Aboriginal kids attend cultural camps” to re-establish “what we once had [and] how to respect [the culture] we [elders] grew up with”.

“We want to walk together … black and white, walk and work together,” he said.

Mr Barilaro opened his speech by saying, “we don’t want to disadvantage regional kids”.

“Documents should not be static,” he said, “they should be refreshed; that’s why we are here today.”

He said Sanctus was the “perfect place” to relaunch the strategy and outlined a vision to back “entrepreneurs basing themselves across NSW”.

He nominated Sanctus Brewing and Maclean coffee makers, Botero, as the types of businesses the government sees as part of its growth manifesto; and nominated Orange as an example of how its “cafe culture” is not much different to that in Surry Hills, Sydney.

He said micro brewers across the state employed 5,000 people and generate $3billion in turnover.

On tourism, which has been booming in the Lower Clarence since July 2020, he thanked the Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, for her border closures, because it resulted in more people holidaying in NSW.

On mining and the increasing demand for minerals associated with renewable energy products, he said “small business comes off the back of mining”, however, he said that “priorities [would be] different in each part of the state”.

He acknowledged that “tourism is the heart of the economy in NSW”.

“It’s all about jobs … we must create industries to facilitate [jobs growth],” he said.

The ‘refreshed’ vision identifies three new “emerging sectors” in regional development: advanced manufacturing, renewable energy and gas and technology-enabled industries.

Critical minerals, ecotourism, recycling and waste management and high quality food products are identified as “future industries”.

In general terms, the ‘vision’ makes this comment about coastal areas: “The natural beauty of coastal areas should see further growth in tourism and continued migration from across NSW despite recent publicity associated with bushfires and COVID-19.

“Other sectors envisaged to lead jobs growth include retail, health and residential care industries.

“This reflects ongoing opportunities for further expansion of the residential care market in line with a forecast growth in demand.

“In the next two decades, there will be additional opportunities from new technology and infrastructure to attract skills and workers to Coastal regions, as attitudes to working remotely continue to shift.”