Sustainable Community Development

 

The Northern Rivers is fast becoming a sea change place of migration for people stressed and financially stretched by life in the city. Governments like to talk about the benefits of moving people into regional centres like ours, but they aren’t walking the walk when it comes to supporting sustainable growth.

The benefits of fully supporting regional hubs like the Northern Rivers include reducing demand on major urban centres and reducing the number of commuter journeys and carbon emission. Decentralising means creating jobs in local economies that need them. This is particularly relevant in reducing youth unemployment, which is high in some regional areas like ours.

Regional development can only succeed if there are sufficient infrastructure and public services in place, especially transport and water infrastructure. It means adequate employment, health, communication, broadband, education and recreation services and activities.

Opportunities for our region to sustain our communities include the clean energy economy. An industry with diverse work opportunities, including the installation and maintenance of solar panels and micro-generators, the manufacturing of components for wind turbines, and development in the tertiary sector on future technologies.

We have so much potential to grow green tourism and carbon offsetting. Our forests provide potential eco-tourism opportunities, along with our clean beaches and swimmable rivers.

 

Our plan for developing our community:

  • Establish a Regional Development Authority
  • Jobs in renewable energy industries
  • Clean, green tourism
  • Amenities for our communities

 

Reform Regional Development

There is a plethora of development initiatives, grants, funding mechanisms, and agencies across the state and federal government ranging from Regional Development Australia to the Restart NSW Fund but so many grants and projects are cloaked in mystery and seem to be at the whim of the Minister of the day and electorates they want to pork barrel.

While the funding and work are needed, these regional funding mechanisms often do not deliver on their intended target, with regional communities missing out on over half a billion dollars of funding annually. The number of funds and agencies also risks duplicating efforts and makes it hard for any consistent, long-term goals or strategies to be pursued.

The Greens will end the confusion and consolidate these different funds into a Regional Development Authority with ring-fenced funding, to guarantee that regions get their fair share.

The Regional Development Authority will direct funding to the regions, partnering with businesses, communities and local governments to fund and implement projects which will incentivise sustainable growth in the regions. This is done with the aim of creating local jobs and making regions more attractive places to live, work and play.

 

Our plan will:

  • Rationalise regional funding streams into a Regional Development Authority
  • Ensure that green growth jobs and transition projects get priority funding
  • Ring fence funding to guarantee Regional NSW gets its fair share.

 

Renewable Energy Jobs

Transitioning to a clean energy future is not only the right thing to do for the well-being of our people and our planet but the green economy will create numerous opportunities for jobs and clean growth. Research suggests that there are 3-4 times more jobs created in the renewable energy economy than in fossil fuel for a similar investment of funding (7.5 jobs created in renewable energy compared to only 2.65 in fossil fuels for each $1 million spent).  

In Northern Rivers, our policies to support solar will lead to a boom of jobs in installing and maintaining that infrastructure. It will also create expertise to facilitate other micro-generation.

The Greens support manufacturing renewable energy components in regions.  We will create incentives for business and communities to manufacture components in the Northern Rivers - with opportunities for apprenticeships and research from our TAFE and Tertiary Institutions.

 

Our plan will:

  • Create jobs from solar installation and maintenance, and micro-generation
  • Enable opportunities for renewable energy components manufacturing
  • Facilitate partnerships for research and development with TAFE and tertiary sectors.

 

Clean, Green Tourism and Carbon Offsetting

With visitor numbers at record highs, tourism is both vital to Northern Rivers and an activity that can overwhelm in some areas. In other words, we are at risk of being loved to death. The Greens believe that tourism provides a valuable opportunity to protect and enhance our natural and cultural heritage while providing jobs and having a positive impact on our economy.  At the same time, towns like Byron Bay feel the impacts of high visitation on services & infrastructure, on residential amenity & affordability, on night-time safety.

We believe that to continue to keep the Northern Rivers an attractive place for visitors from overseas and closer to home, we need to invest in ensuring that we’re creating clean, green tourism in Northern Rivers.

This includes working hard to preserve our natural environment by investing in additional park rangers to stop illegal camping and other activities. It means giving councils the power to manage permit systems to regulate 4-wheel drives and preserve our beaches. It means protecting our koalas and ensuring our magnificent rainforests stay untouched through a ban on logging native forest and improving protections against illegal logging and land clearing.

 

Our plan will:

  • Increase park ranger funding
  • Resource councils power to manage permit systems to regulate vehicles on beaches
  • end native forest logging and improve protections against illegal logging

 

Amenities for Our Region

The public services and infrastructure of a region are more than the sum of its roads and rail, or of its healthcare and public safety services. Public services must also include crucial public amenities to improve the attractiveness of the area and to ensure that our people can live well-rounded, fulfilled lives.

We support the construction of swimming pools at Ocean Shores, Bangalow, Wardell and an upgrade to existing pool infrastructure if needed, such as in Mullumbimby. Not only is swimming a fun leisure activity and a way to keep healthy, but it’s also critical in building water safety skills for our children - which is vital in The Northern Rivers with our great coast and many waterways. Higher temperatures also mean that the demand will increase to be able to cool off in inexpensive ways and we see that public swimming pools will be a big part of peoples' lives in the future.

Libraries must have sufficient funding to meet the demands of their community, and to stay open at reasonable times to ensure people can access them. We will also invest in making Northern Rivers a creative hub. We have seen a decline in funding for our creative arts industries including film, music, art and festival activities. The Greens are committed to increasing funding for the Arts in NSW by 10%.

 

Our plan will:

  • Build swimming pools at Ocean Shores, Bangalow, Wardell and upgrade Mullumbimby
  • Ensure sufficient library numbers and funding
  • Safeguard arts through a 10% increased in investment in Art Industries in NSW.
  • Secure funding for community centres such as the Mullumbimby Community Center
  • Provide funding towards the $20M Bangalow Village Master Plan