20 year vision to guide share of Snowy Hydro legacy fund

Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Scot MacDonald, with Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, at the launch of the 20-year visionParliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Scot MacDonald, with Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, at the launch of the 20-year vision

Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Scot MacDonald, and Member for Terrigal, Adam Crouch, have welcomed a 20-year framework for regional investment to guide the allocation of resources from the new $4.2b Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund.

MacDonald said the regional vision, launched by Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, and Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, will promote sustainable, long-term economic growth that will focus on job creation and economic development on the Central Coast. According to MacDonald, the Central Coast local government area will be combined with Lake Macquarie to form a metro satellite Functional Economic Region (FER). “This is a plan that identifies our industry sectors set for growth, and identifies the role of government in facilitating that growth,” MacDonald said. “For the Central Coast, that means focusing on industries including agribusiness, forestry, tourism and hospitality, and technology enabled primary industries,” he said.

“What’s so important about this vision is that the NSW Government has the financial backing to deliver it, with every cent of the $4.2b Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund being spent in regional NSW.” The other categories in the Vision document are Coastal, Growth Centre, Inland and Remote. Other metro satellites are around the ACT, Wingecarribee, Kiama, Lithgow and the Hunter. They are defined as relatively high-density communities on the outskirts of major centres of economic activity such as Sydney. They include towns such as Gosford, according to the Vision document. “Their higher populations reflect strong economic growth which is based on traded clusters, concentrations of industries such as mining, tourism, food manufacture and residential care, and bolstered by their proximity to growing major cities. Central Coast and Lake Macquarie are the only “metro satellite FER” that consists of more than one LGA.

It is starred as one of the areas in NSW that will “add the most people” over the next 20 years. “In the next two decades, Metro Satellites will transform from satellite areas of bigger cities, to become major hubs in their own right, attracting large numbers of families seeking new lifestyle and employment opportunities,” the Vision document said. “Transport links are essential to existing and future Metro Satellites and nearby Growth Centres, to enable the flow of commuters, goods and services,” it said. “Most of these increases will be in the Central Coast and Lake Macquarie, where populations will reach nearly 725,000.”

According to the Vision, there will more jobs in the construction, retail, accommodation and food service industries. “As these areas become major hubs, their self-sufficiency will increase and employment sources will shift towards local industries that provide goods and services beyond the immediate region. “Metro Satellites’ key employing industry will be healthcare and social assistance. “This will be particularly apparent in areas such as … the Central Coast, where growing populations of retirees will generate demand for health and lifestyle services.

“Employment sectors in Metro Satellites are diverse, spanning health (particularly in the Central Coast and Lake Macquarie). “While mining is a particularly large job cluster, future employment is hard to predict due to increasing automation and variable commodity prices. “Mining in these areas will face significant competition from other states, and will need to improve productivity to remain competitive,” the Vision document said. “This 20-year plan will ensure that our region benefits from the $4.2b Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund,” Crouch said. “Over the coming months, I will be working to ensure our local area continues to get its fair share of funding through this new Regional Vision,” he said.

The vision outlined 10 key ‘engine industries’ that will drive growth in regional NSW, and set out a framework for how the government should direct its investment. The vision brings together the NSW Government’s long-term planning strategies, including the Future Transport Strategy 2056, the NSW State Infrastructure Strategy and the regional plans. The 20 year Vision document talks about “turbo-charging visionary projects so they don’t just sit on paper, but actually become reality”. Shadow Minister for the Central Coast, David Harris, said the Vision was a “nothing” statement from the NSW Government. “This is a nothing announcement from the Liberals that still does not give us any details about how the money will be spent,” Harris said.

“The NSW Auditor General found that 14 per cent of Restart NSW funds were spent on the regions in 2015-16, instead of the promised 30 per cent,” he said. This is a cruel hoax from a government already caught out shortchanging regional NSW with less than half of the promised infrastructure spending. “Labor has already announced that we will spend this money where it belongs, on vital projects across regional NSW.” Labor had initially raised questions about whether or not the Central Coast would even be considered a region for the purposes of sharing in the Snowy Hydro spoils.

Then NSW Opposition leader, Luke Foley, announced it would be spent on growing jobs and population in the regions. The Government has responded with its vision and a list of things it will investigate within the next 5, 10 and 20 years, but it is not a detailed plan of how the Snowy Hydro money will be spent. For instance, over the next 20 years, according to the document, NSW will be planning for and activating smart cities technologies in metro satellites.

Source: Media release, Jul 30 Kit Hale, office of Scot MacDonald Media statement, Jul 31 Zachary Harrison, office of David Harris Document, Jul 30 NSW Government, A 20-year Economic Vision for Regional NSW Jackie Pearson, journalist