A lot has happened – drought, bushfires, floods and a pandemic – since the NSW Government released its 20-Year Economic Vision for Regional NSW in July 2018.
The vision aspires to entice “more than 185,000 extra people” to move to regional NSW, with the aim to grow the regional population beyond the forecasted 650,000, to “close to a million people”.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro launched a revised version of the 20-year vision, today, at Sanctus Brewing Company’s premises in Townsend – full report in next week’s Independent.
In 2018, Mr Barilaro wrote in his preamble: “NSW’s economy has been restored to its proper position as the nation’s leading economy, with a first-class infrastructure pipeline that is creating jobs, skilling our young people and ensuring NSW has the infrastructure it needs to meet current and future demands.
“Regional NSW is at the forefront of this.
“…We are not just future proofing our regions … but also turbo charging visionary projects – so they don’t just sit on paper, but actually become reality.
“Our 20-year vision will ensure regional NSW is poised to take advantage of future opportunities for growth.”
This vision, the document states, will be achieved via a “state [made up] of many smaller economies”.
This is further defined as regional NSW being “divided into five types of regional economies – Metro Satellite, Growth Centre, Coastal, Inland and Remote – based on their underlying geography, population and economic features”.
Within these defined areas, the NSW Government refers to smaller economies as ‘functional economic regions’ (FERs).
The Clarence Valley is one of the four ‘Coastal’ regions, along with Far South Coast, Mid Coast and Nambucca.
Broadly speaking, the government sees “the opportunity for Coastal regions to grow by more than 35,000 people” by 2038 and the “opportunity to add more than 14,000 jobs to the NSW economy”.
And while the document predicts the bulk of this growth will occur “primarily in [the] Mid Coast and Far South Coast” FERs, it refers to “the towns of Macksville and Nambucca Heads – and the Clarence Valley towns of Grafton and Yamba” as significant economic growth contributors within their FERs.
The coastal areas account for seven per cent of regional NSW “but are growing”.
“The natural beauty of coastal areas should see further growth in tourism and continued migration from across NSW,” the document states.
“This growth is mainly driven by those aged 65 and over.”
This aged demographic, the document states, provides “a challenge … to see how further expansion of a residential care market can drive ongoing employment opportunities while boosting related sectors such as construction and maintenance”.
As far as the overall “vision” is concerned, the NSW Government “believes” its application will “result in higher population and jobs growth”.
“Regional NSW is already forecast to grow by 620,000 people by 2038.
“However, our visionary approach could boost this by more than 185,000 extra people, so that the regional NSW population grows by close to a million people.”
Meanwhile, last week, The Nationals released its plan – Manufacturing 2035–800,000 New Jobs – to create 800,000 new manufacturing jobs throughout the country by 2035.
It aims to expand manufacturing in regional areas beyond their “commodity-focused export economies covering industries such as agriculture, forestry, fishing and resources”.