A STRONGER economy linked with projected growth in the electorate’s population reinforces the Federal Government’s 2014–15 Budget which delivers initiatives boosting local economies, the Member for New England Barnaby Joyce said.
Mr Joyce was commenting on the recent release of population projections, forecasting a future of strong growth in the electorate and said the Budget is designed to improve connectivity across our regions, increase productivity and create jobs.
“New England has been a great region for growth and will grow stronger,” Mr Joyce said.
“The New England has always had the economic and political nouse to position itself for growth,” he said.
He said the proposal to invest more than $83 million in upgrading the New England Highway at Bolivia Hill and Tenterfield would enhance its growing reputation as a corridor of commerce and continue to stimulate growth.
“The expansion of tomato farming in Guyra, blueberries in Tenterfield, beef and sheep abattoirs in Inverell and Tamworth and the poultry production and processing industry in the electorate’s south all indicate the New England is in the right place at the right time as we connect further to a growing Asian economy,” Mr Joyce said.
“New England will be stronger still as we build Chaffey Dam, build the Inland rail, redevelop Armidale Airport get new markets for sheep in the Middle East and cattle in Asia and move a ministerial office out of Sydney into Armidale.”
Mr Joyce said coastal centres like Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie would be eclipsed by Tamworth’s growth projections according to the report.
“We will be able to offer a better quality of life and standard of living in the New England than many of our counterparts in the major cities,” Mr Joyce said.
“It’s not a coincidence we have the growth rate predictions highlighted in this report.”
The report from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment predicted the two largest centres in the electorate would lead the surge in growth he said. Tamworth’s population is expected to hit the 70,000 mark by 2031 and Armidale growing by 25.8 per cent or an increase of 6500 to having more than 30,000 people in the same period.
He said Inverell Shire is predicted to continue its strong growth trend, increasing by 12.2 per cent over the next 27 years. Also tipped to grow are Gunnedah – up 6.1 per cent, Guyra – 7.1 per cent, Uralla – 4.6 per cent and Tenterfield – 2.1 per cent.
“While population projections for Walcha and Glen Innes are not as optimistic, these centres have a wonderful community spirit with a proven track record of rising to the challenge and embracing opportunities which I am sure will see them prevail,” Mr Joyce said.
He said the Coalition Government had spelt out detail in ‘Building Stronger Regional Communities’, a publication outlining many Budget initiatives that will benefit regional communities.
Mr Joyce said the $1 billion National Stronger Regions Fund would be up and running next year and will target infrastructure projects supporting local and regional development. Organisations, including councils and community groups, will be able to apply for grants between $20,000 and $10 million for community infrastructure.
“The borrowing of $1b a month just to pay the interest would become even worse without our plan – this would be $2.8 billion a month in 10 years’ time if nothing is done,” he said.