If we built it, would they come?

In 2011, over 85% of Australians lived in urban areas and nearly 70% lived in our capital cities, making Australia one of the world’s most urbanised countries. In contrast, 100 years ago less than 40% of Australia’s population lived in our capital cities. ₁

At June 2013, just under two-thirds of the state’s population (4.76 million people) resided in Greater Sydney. Population growth in Greater Sydney accounted for 78% of the state’s total growth in 2012-13. ₂

The population density of NSW at June 2013 was 9.3 people per square kilometre (sq. km)

In Greater Sydney, the population density was 380 people per sq. km The top four most densely-populated areas in Australia were located around Sydney’s central business district; inner-city Pyrmont – Ultimo (14,300 people per sq. km), Potts Point – Woolloomooloo (13,600), Darlinghurst (13,300) and Surry Hills (13,100). ₃

POPULATION DENSITY BY SA2, Greater SydneyJune 2013₄

map

That’s a lot of people in a relatively small space by anybody’s standards and you’re probably, quite rightly, asking “Why is she bombarding us with all these figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics?”

Well….I was thinking about Kevin Costner (as one does) and his 1989 movie Field of Dreams and the line; “If you build it, he will come”. This in turn led me to pondering the level of population drift from rural and remote areas of the state as well as my experiences at several Country Living Expos in Sydney where many city-siders expressed a desire to relocate to rural NSW but who were not interested in areas where there was a perceived lack of facilities and services; i.e. infrastructure.

I’m happy to admit simplistic thinking in my ponderings here; but if infrastructure continues to be built in Greater Sydney, its surrounds and areas along the coast, in anticipation of the expected population increase and less is spent in rural NSW (presumably in anticipation of an expected decline), are we not creating a self-fulfilling prophecy?

housing deficit

I’m not saying upgrades are not necessary for Sydney’s ever increasing population, just suggesting a Catch 22 scenario that would require a huge shift in thinking and much vision, courage, votes and money to implement. Realistic goal setting has never been my forte.

A quick perusal of the Infrastructure NSW State Infrastructure Strategy Update 2014 and the interactive map shows various projects that are proposed for Regional areas and the eastern seaboard. You will note that I have not mentioned rural or remote regions; neither does the Strategy. Unless you count “Clinical redesign – NSW Health will continue development of business cases….for regional and rural modernisation program”???

Only one key area; Energy, shows as being state-wide (as it should be) but only in the context of changing the fuel mix, the role of gas (interesting) and investor confidence and reform in the sector (also interesting).

The only reference I can find that would be considered remote is under the key area of Health where Tibooburra is the only site west of the divide (out of 19), identified as experiencing an ageing population and requiring a “one stop shop” of core services for vulnerable members of the community.

Have a look for yourself and see if you think I am being paranoid. Click here to have a look.

Considering the strategy and the possible implications for rural and remote NSW and remembering why the Country Women’s Association came into being in 1922; I believe there is still a place for the organisation.

Do you?

References:

₁Australian Bureau of Statistics – Historical Population Statistics, 2014

₂, ₃, ₄ Australian Bureau of Statistics – Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2012-13

If we built it, would they come?

In 2011, over 85% of Australians lived in urban areas and nearly 70% lived in our capital cities, making Australia one of the world’s most urbanised countries. In contrast, 100 years ago less than 40% of Australia’s population lived in our capital cities. ₁

At June 2013, just under two-thirds of the state’s population (4.76 million people) resided in Greater Sydney. Population growth in Greater Sydney accounted for 78% of the state’s total growth in 2012-13. ₂

The population density of NSW at June 2013 was 9.3 people per square kilometre (sq. km)

In Greater Sydney, the population density was 380 people per sq. km The top four most densely-populated areas in Australia were located around Sydney’s central business district; inner-city Pyrmont – Ultimo (14,300 people per sq. km), Potts Point – Woolloomooloo (13,600), Darlinghurst (13,300) and Surry Hills (13,100). ₃

POPULATION DENSITY BY SA2, Greater SydneyJune 2013₄

map

That’s a lot of people in a relatively small space by anybody’s standards and you’re probably, quite rightly, asking “Why is she bombarding us with all these figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics?”

Well….I was thinking about Kevin Costner (as one does) and his 1989 movie Field of Dreams and the line; “If you build it, he will come”. This in turn led me to pondering the level of population drift from rural and remote areas of the state as well as my experiences at several Country Living Expos in Sydney where many city-siders expressed a desire to relocate to rural NSW but who were not interested in areas where there was a perceived lack of facilities and services; i.e. infrastructure.

I’m happy to admit simplistic thinking in my ponderings here; but if infrastructure continues to be built in Greater Sydney, its surrounds and areas along the coast, in anticipation of the expected population increase and less is spent in rural NSW (presumably in anticipation of an expected decline), are we not creating a self-fulfilling prophecy?

housing deficit

I’m not saying upgrades are not necessary for Sydney’s ever increasing population, just suggesting a Catch 22 scenario that would require a huge shift in thinking and much vision, courage, votes and money to implement. Realistic goal setting has never been my forte.

A quick perusal of the Infrastructure NSW State Infrastructure Strategy Update 2014 and the interactive map shows various projects that are proposed for Regional areas and the eastern seaboard. You will note that I have not mentioned rural or remote regions; neither does the Strategy. Unless you count “Clinical redesign – NSW Health will continue development of business cases….for regional and rural modernisation program”???

Only one key area; Energy, shows as being state-wide (as it should be) but only in the context of changing the fuel mix, the role of gas (interesting) and investor confidence and reform in the sector (also interesting).

The only reference I can find that would be considered remote is under the key area of Health where Tibooburra is the only site west of the divide (out of 19), identified as experiencing an ageing population and requiring a “one stop shop” of core services for vulnerable members of the community.

Have a look for yourself and see if you think I am being paranoid. Click here to have a look.

Considering the strategy and the possible implications for rural and remote NSW and remembering why the Country Women’s Association came into being in 1922; I believe there is still a place for the organisation.

Do you?

References:

₁Australian Bureau of Statistics – Historical Population Statistics, 2014

₂, ₃, ₄ Australian Bureau of Statistics – Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2012-13

Dear Mr. Abbott

What guarantees will you put in place to ensure that those of us who choose to live in rural Australia will still have safe, accessible water sources and the productive land we currently enjoy?

What guarantees will you put in place to ensure that those of us who choose to live in rural Australia will still have safe, accessible water sources and the productive land we currently enjoy?

Firstly, congratulations on being elected Prime Minister of this great country. It is, as you say an honour, but also carries with it great responsibility.

The Country Women’s Association of NSW has, for 91 years championed the rights of and furthered causes for, women, their families and communities.

We do not possess unlimited financial or physical resources to be able to compete with other interest groups. What we do have is a proud history of frank, passionate, reasoned and informed contributions to many debates that bear striking resemblance to those we continue to be involved in today. It is for this reason I write to you now.

In your acceptance speech you said that Australia is once again open for new business. One of our main concerns is the protection of agricultural land, used in the production of food and fibre, and the precious ground and surface water that sustains it and us.

The resources boom has delivered a short term reprieve to governments struggling with debt, but at what long term cost. History shows us time and again that our march towards the 21st century has proven to be detrimental to our natural environment. What guarantees will you put in place to ensure that those of us who choose to live in rural Australia will still have safe, accessible water sources and the productive land we currently enjoy?

You also commented that the Coalition will not leave anyone behind. Members of CWA of NSW have continuously lobbied for improvements to health and other government services, telecommunications, road and rail infrastructure, law and order issues, equitable access to education, fair prices for commodities, the list goes on. It would be nice to think that, under your leadership, rural Australia will not be left behind, once again, on these issues. The vicious cycle of reduction and population drift from inland Australia will only continue whilst successive governments refuse to look further into the future than the next election.

We bring to the table a unique perspective on a wide range of issues, the ongoing concern and discussion around energy drinks is a case in point. We are now significant contributors in many of the debates that are taking place in the public arena and we are witnessing a growing trend to be included in the forums and discussions that lead to positive change. You will find a list of our current issues here.

You should know that alongside the fellowship, the charity and the tea and scones continues an unwavering commitment to improving the lives of Australian families by continuing to articulate the concerns of our members in the only way we know how; forthright, fair and from the heart.

So we ask you Mr. Abbott to look beyond the next 3 years and create for future generations, as well as yourself, a legacy like ours, to be proud of.

Yours Sincerely,

Tanya Cameron