NSW puts regional jobs on the table

FORTY years after the Albury-Wodonga National Growth Centre was launched, NSW politicians want to know what locals think about decentralisation of public servants in the next 10 years.

Labor and Coalition state governments in NSW have closed or trimmed offices in regional centres, including Albury, in recent years.

The former Labor Rees government closed the NSW forests office at Thurgoona in 2008 but later gave the Albury Council $1.72 million for the Nexus industrial estate at Ettamogah.

Now the O’Farrell government wants its new decentralisation taskforce, including member for Albury Greg Aplin, “to pursue opportunities for regional development and decentralisation”.

Deputy Premier and Regional Infrastructure Minister Andrew Stoner said the taskforce, led by independent MP Richard Torbay, would advise the government’s Decade of Decentralisation Strategy and regional policies.

“Boosting regional economies is a top priority for this government,” Mr Stoner said.

“We are doing that by stimulating regional development, localising decision making and decentralising public sector staff.

“Input from key stakeholders, including local and regional government and those representing specific interest groups in the regions, will be essential to informing the work of the taskforce.”

Mr Torbay will report to the government by the end of March.

His team must consider regional policies and programs including resources for the regions, the regional relocation grant program and government agency relocation.

Mr Aplin said the government had made extensive decentralisation efforts and the taskforce was out to build on them.

He cited the Northern Rivers Jobs Plan, the Illawarra Innovation and Investment Fund and the relocation of public sector jobs from Sydney to regional NSW.

Submissions can be made at haveyoursay.nsw.gov.au/decentralisation by February 15.

Tomorrow’s Border Mail will feature the 40th anniversary of the National Growth Centre launch.