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How to make regional areas more appealing for people

As a person who has recently made the move from the big smoke to the bush (Sydney to Tamworth) I’ve been thinking about how regional towns need some help to thrive going forward. I can see no easy solutions to keep kids from wanting to move to the cities, or for enticing more city people to move to the bush. Rather I think it will take efforts on many levels and some outside the box thinking to make it happen.

What I am certain of though is that it’s something we need to do as a nation if we want to ease the congestion that is taking hold in our major cities, especially along the east coast. The changes I saw in Sydney over recent years is a major part of our decision to move our family to Tamworth, in the hopes of a better life for our 6yo son. I have no doubt already that he’ll have better opportunities in some areas of life, as we are already seeing some changes, but much more has to be done for our regional centers. I’m hoping that this topic may start a conversation for people that will result in a better Australia for all, as we all have seen some of the problems that are happening in our fast growing cities like Melbourne and Sydney. Don’t be afraid to throw an idea out there no matter how silly you think it may be - I’m pretty sure when the first dinner fork was invented there would have been some giggles but now they are everywhere :smile:.

Let me start with something that has to be at the forefront if regional areas are to be attractive and thrive, and that is jobs. Larger businesses are not going to relocate to towns like Tamworth, Dubbo, Ballarat, etc. unless it’s attractive for them to do so. Like anything big today that means there would have to be investment, and that takes real money and some outside the box thinking. Business needs fast, reliable internet and communication infrastructure to successfully operate in these times, and whilst the NBN as it’s being rolled out currently is a basket case, it could actually be fixed and done well. You will not have medium to large corporations setting up shop in regional towns until fast, reliable internet in those areas is the norm. To do that we need people in government who will stop looking at it as an expense, but rather as an investment that will pay dividends in the long term. See I’ll be the first to throw a silly idea out there, thinking we can once again have politicians who think in decades rather than election cycles lol.

But let’s talk real out of the box policy for all levels of government. A huge cost for a business to relocate will be the setup costs, so what can we do there to make it more enticing. How about waiving/discounting the land taxes and rates for a certain number of years that can be related to the number of jobs created. That could tempt some companies that were thinking about a move, especially when you point out that for the rental costs they pay in one year in a city like Sydney, they could have a bricks and mortar asset that they own in a regional center.

Another impost to business that economists and owners often talk about is payroll tax, and you could make a change there. For any business that relocates from a major city to a regional town you could give them a payroll tax credit for each employee, credited to the company at the end of each year’s service for that employee. That would encourage companies to keep on more permanent employees, as those that leave before the year is up do not provide the company with a tax credit.

But a company has to have employees as well and as proved by Barnaby Joyce’s pork barrel attempt with the APVMA, you can’t force people to move to the country lol. A major factor in many people’s reticence to live in a regional town is services. You only have to look at the job ads for towns like Tamworth to see that they struggle to get health professionals to move there, but there are tweaks you can make there too.

We currently import many health professionals into Australia from overseas, from those on working visas to those seeking permanent residency/citizenship. For years now the government has attempted to ‘force’ those medicos to work for a period of time in a country town or regional center. Seems perfectly fine on paper but does not work and will never work. Having someone set up practice in a regional area only because it’s a requirement of their visa is a recipe for resentment - they don’t want to be there and it shows, so their patients don’t want them there either. In fact the numbers say we don’t really need to import doctors at all, we train more than enough here as it is.

A better solution could be enticing those we we train here to move to the bush, as well as making it easier/more affordable for kids from the bush to study medicine in the city. It’s not cheap to get a medical degree and the price is only going to go up in the future, so there’s a possibility there for a credit of their tuition costs perhaps on a pro rata basis pertaining to how many years they practice in the bush. I think you’d find many regional kids would be encouraged by that to go to town, study medicine and return home to practice. It’s much better for all concerned when a doctor is somewhere because he wants to be, not because he’s forced to be there in some way.

As I said at the start none of it will be easy, and it needs people having ideas for anything to work so exercise those brain cells lol. Even if you have the basics of an idea but don’t know how to work it out, throw it out there. Someone might be thinking along the same lines but from a different direction. I don’t hold much faith in those mannequins we have in parliament but I know we have some big thinkers hanging around Choice :wink:.

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Don’t disagree.

One of the challenges is city folk who move to country cities/towns/hamlets etc expect the same services and facilities as the big smoke. They are disappointed and use this as the basis to complain how bad it is to live in the country. One of the reasons to leave the big smoke should be to get away for the pressures and stresses of living in a big city.

Also, it can be difficult to assimilate into country life, especially now days when many people think that there is no longer a need to join a cricket, tennis, swimming clubs or attend church on Sundays as they have social media to inform the world of their lives. Many country folk are more conservative and don’t use social media…meaning one still needs to engage in the traditional social networks to make friends and to be social.

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Also…

I don’t live that rurally ( an hour out of Newcastle ) yet we have seen Brown snakes and red belly black snakes here. Something else for people to consider when moving away from the burbs.

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Snakes, goannas, wallabies, kangaroos, echidnas etc, seeing them close-up is part of everyday life for me here in the bush, and I feel much safer here than I would in the city!

I just wish people would realise that snakes are not really a danger. I’ve had many close encounters with Eastern Browns and various black snakes, within centimetres in quite a few cases, and none of them have tried to attack me. Snakes do a good job helping to control mice and rats, although in recent months I think they have been slacking off!

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Fair enough
(lots of skinks and water dragons around here too), tho with dogs to protect I don’t hesitate to eradicate a brown I come across.

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I live in the burbs and yesterday had a nice eastern brown visit my back yard. If you have some vegetation and a food source snakes can live anywhere.

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Indeed, especially given how hard it is to eradicate rats here. I’ve laid 150+ m of snake mesh but nothing is perfect

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‘Regional Areas’ covers a very diverse range of places - not all remote, not all rural, not all without services. I live in a regional area, about 16 hours by road north of Adelaide - services aren’t bad overall but choice is a bit limited (that’s what road trips are for!) use of technology is widespread, the landline copper network has all but been switched off, sporting clubs are everywhere and there is plenty to do work wise - lots of jobs. I can’t imagine wanting to leave any time soon and that feeling is reinforced with every visit to the big smoke.

There’s lots of imported doctors in my town - and typically they are very good, and want to be here. Getting doctors to come here from other parts of Australia seems to be the problem, I think that’s why we import them - and from a very diverse range of places.

Perenties, roos, camels, horses, donkeys, large birds of prey … unfenced highways and 130 km/h speed limit :slight_smile: Snakes are the least of it, and there’s plenty of them too …

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The factors you raise are indeed the reasons I moved to the country - the sense of community is much stronger than what Sydney provided for us in many years. A favorite comparison I use down the local bowling club is 2 old guys living next door to each other that haven’t spoken for 20 years. In the country if one’s house catches fire the other guy will jump the fence and help put it out, and then they’ll go back to not talking again. Same situation in the city would have the second guy holding a long stick with marshmallows to toast, saying “Thank god I’ll finally be rid of the mongrel” lol. Large generalisation but you get my point :stuck_out_tongue:

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Embracing internet/technological choice is key. Not just the hardware, but as a workplace culture, even a national culture. My job could easily be done online-only (and from home!) meaning I could live anywhere and my clients could be anyone with a smartphone - but my employer and all similar employers insist on running out of bricks and mortar workplaces which in turn forces me to live in a narrow (expensive city) area and limits our clients to a narrow area too.

Old fashioned thinking feels like a rope around the neck sometimes.

Disclaimer, I’m an anti-social hermit who gets annoyed by other people inconsiderately doing their shopping at the same time as me. :wink:

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I called that a ‘tie’ when I worked in the big smoke. Haven’t worn one in a decade++ … oddly enough I live in a remote town, and have to work in a big building :wink:

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I live in regional Australia. Who says the majority of us want to make the regions more attractive to city folk? I for one is most happy that most Australians want to cram themselves into their urban hovels and live in the city or ever expanding burb’s and leave us in the country alone.

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I too would rather not have regional Australia turn into an urban sprawl as seen in large cities! The night time glow from Sydney’s light pollution, 300km to my south, reminds me that it is there, and is to be visited as infrequently as possible :wink:

For my wife and myself, we can’t think of any city living advantages, but there is a long list of disadvantages!

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I thought most of new developments in Tamworth and Armidale had FTTHome. Decentralisation needs to happen but Towns could exploit one of their advantages over Cities, space. Make Streets wider with trees or Solar panelled canopies lining the streets to cool the urban parking and walkways down. Maintain large residential blocks but have large Nature corridors (fenced) built through towns. The financial and Educational incentives could work well. I grew up in a town nearby Gunnedah that had its own Flour Mill,Abbaitors,Soft Drink company,Bakery,TAFE etc, etc . All this disappeared due to centralisation of the market and the freeing up of world trade. But decentralisation of things like Power (renewable Energy), Electric Vehicles etc help to giveback the Towns some autonomy.

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Yet for others living in a large centre does have some advantages. My and my wife’s current health concerns limit our travel and also means we need certain specialists and facilities to deal with them. Do I like cities so large it takes hours to travel one side to the next , No I don’t. I would prefer the more satisfactory lifestyle you can get in less urban areas but until our system can provide a similar level of service no matter where we are located then I’m afraid a City is where our family needs to be. Just for the record our family has lived in very low population and remote areas, we do know what it is like and it would be our preference to live ever thus if we had that choice.

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This highlights a major problem we have in Australia when anything is put up for discussion, people segmenting an issue into what the ‘majority’ or ‘minority’ want and placing themselves into the position of speaking for one side or the other. To start with we don’t even know what the so-called ‘majority’ want and probably never will, as no referendum or plebiscite has been/will be raised on the matter. The other matter is who said you spoke for the ‘majority’? In your own post you follow that line immediately with “I for one” which is an accurate statement of your position. I think your fears are grossly unfounded anyway considering it would not be until my 6yo son was a grandfather that the regions would even start to be ‘crammed’ with city folk lol. You should also be careful about statements such as “leave us in the country alone”. That is what Gladys was thinking when planning to bulldoze 2 perfectly good stadiums in Sydney and spend billions on rebuilding them - that type of planning was very much in the vein of leaving those in the country alone. I’m sure she would be happy to know at least one person in regional Australia agreed her thought bubble was a great idea lmao.

@gordon There is no reason why regional Australia would turn into an urban sprawl as seen in large cities. I personally would hope that those already living in regional areas would ensure that local planning would negate that happening, especially considering it would be against why people would move to the regions to begin with lol. As for light pollution that is another area were thoughtful planning and use of technology could easily minimise such problems. Installing street lights that have movement sensors would go a long way to avoiding it, rather than the current type that are on from dusk till dawn. Having local regulations that business advertising lighting turned off at a certain time (say 11pm) is another thing that could be done.

The whole problem with the large cities and their sprawl is the fact there has been no real long term planning involved in how the cities have grown - some exceptions being Melbourne and Perth’s freeway planning where they built roads far in advance of the traffic needs of the time. Whilst our cities are now in a constant state of ‘catch-up’ planning our regions could start planning now for the future towns and centers they want to live in.

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It certainly could, but only token efforts are put in by local councils. I’ve made submissions and given presentations to Tamworth City (now Regional) Council over 20 years ago regarding light pollution, but nothing has really changed. Inefficient street lights that unnecessarily illuminate surrounding areas, nearby houses, and the sky, business “security” and other lights, sporting oval lights etc, that are shining horizontally or upwards all night, which should be on motion sensors and shielded, etc. Tamworth’s light pollution dome has grown massively since the 1970s, but council seems happy to maintain the energy wastage.:disappointed:
At least I was able to play a part in stopping council from installing a large array of straight upwards pointing floodlights, arranged to spell TAMWORTH, so that passing aeroplanes cound see it!

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So it is OK for you to express an opinion of how you would like to see the regional areas develop but when an opposing view is expressed it is attacked for being not representative?

This is a forum where we get to represent our views and agendas, it doesn’t make them necessarily correct or the only view and don’t be surprised that a lot of people disagree with you.

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The Community forum is a place for friendly debate and differing opinions are welcome. Don’t forget, it can be hard to assess tone and intent with text alone, so hopefully we can keep our convos being conducted in the right spirit. Users can also message me direct at any time if they have any concerns.

From my point of view, I’ve lived in both and diversity of job types is certainly a challenge in regiional areas. There are some amaxing benefits to living out in the country though, and as we know, it’s often people from regional areas that are among the countries happiest based on the surveys I have seen. As noted, personally I think technology will probably be a big factor in the future in terms of how we decide where to live and at what point.

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I’m not sure if you actually read my original post but in it I specifically ask for ideas and suggestions, so I fail to understand your line of thinking that I am against the sharing of ideas.

Likewise you seem to have not read my reply to your comment. It was not an opposing view that I ‘attacked’ (as you put it), but your representation that you spoke for the majority of people in regional areas, which strangely enough I have problems believing. I also stated that it was a major problem with this country, not a major problem with tndkemp. Having an opposing view is great and always encouraged…saying that you speak for the majority of any given demographic without the evidence or backing of said demographic is definately not ok.

If it was my response to your comment regarding city people leaving country people alone that you feel is an attack it wasn’t, but don’t be surprised that I disagree with you.

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