News

Regional areas in decline

DRIVING from Ballina to Grafton on the ramshackle Pacific Hwy was just one example of the State Government's neglect of regional areas, according to Newcastle economics Professor Bill Mitchell.

At the Clarence Valley Community Unions Forum at Grafton District Services Club on Wednesday night, Prof Mitchell presented a report commissioned by the Public Sector Union into the impact of the Government's service reduction and staff cuts.

The Clarence Valley was chosen as the first of many regional areas across the state to hear the findings of the report and a crowd of 100 gathered to listen.

"I was shocked to drive from Ballina to here," Prof Mitchell said.

"I thought it would be divided road and instead we were sitting on 50 and I just said to myself 'In an allegedly sophisticated country like Australia on a main arterial route between our capital cities, it's atrocious, we have the conditions we had 40 years ago."

The thrust of the argument was that the public sector should not be treated like the private sector as it was not there to make money but to provide services.

Prof Mitchell said proponents argued in favour of privatisation because it was more cost-effective and less risky.

"But not when the private sector firm goes broke and it's running the hospital, what happens then..." Prof Mitchell said.

"It's the hospital for goodness sakes, who picks up the pieces?"

He said the impact of job losses in regional areas had multiplier effects.

"When a worker loses their income they stop spending," he said.

"(Businesses) start laying off workers, that's the multiplier effect and that spills over into neighbouring regions.

"As the labour market contracts you get outward migration and the high-skilled people leave the region and you start losing the youth of the region.

"Then you get a decline of essential services."

Prof Mitchell argued the public sector actually needs to, and would, expand in coming years, especially in the areas of health care and environment.

Employment statistics were shared at the forum, which raised some eyebrows, showing the shocking rate of workforce "participation" in the North Coast.

Unemployment has fallen as well as the number of people over 15 years of age willing and able to work.

"We observe when we are going into economic slowdown, unfilled vacancies start to fall and people, to protect their self- esteem drop out of the labour force," Prof Mitchell said.

Some criticism was levelled at the forum via The Daily Examiner website yesterday, with some users arguing it seemed like a recruitment drive for the unions.

Toward the end of Wednesday night's meeting Tony King from Clarence Valley Community Unions said the idea was to have a committee to map out a plan for the whole Valley.

"Unlike governments and politicians, they might not consult, but we will consult," Mr King said.

"This is about getting a plan for the Clarence Valley so we can give it to the politicians.

"We're in this together as a community and it's about us telling them what we want."

 

EMPLOYMENT

  • Local unemployment higher than state average
  • Employment participation in state and nation is 65%
  • Employment participation in the Northern Rivers has gone from 56% to 52%

Topics:  grafton, state government



Join the Community.

Get your local news, your way.

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Leda to appeal servo knockback

An artist's impression of the proposed Kings Forest service station.

Leda to appeal rejection of new Tweed Coast Road servo

Top French medal for WWII radio operator

Royal Australian Air Force wireless operator Rob Jenkins aboard the Lancaster plane nicknamed "Uncle Joe" by the crew.

Tweed WWII veteran receives French Legion of Honour

Health, education and roads top budget wish-list

DOLLARS: Treasurer Scott Morrison (centre) is preparing to hand down his first Budget.

Calls for more health and education funding in the Tweed

Latest deals and offers


British family bashed in Thailand

Family beaten and kicked unconscious by gang in Thailand.

Family beaten and kicked unconscious by gang in Thailand.

Ben Hunt wary of Sharks Halfback

Ben Hunt of the Broncos looks to pass during the round 23 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Suncorp Stadium.

Ben Hunt talks about Cronulla's Chad Townsend.

Broncos prepare for Sharks

Defensive training session at the Broncos

Tough defensive session in preparation for Sharks game.

How a sacked real estate agent made $725k in four months

Agent is now under investigation by the industry watchdog

VIDEO: Art Deco fan pays $835,000 for Imperial Hotel

No Caption

Iconic "Impy" sold at a bargan price to bidder who loves Art Deco.

RBA warns of future apartment oversupply

Toowoomba: Crest Apartments and Burke & Wills, Ruthven Street ( view from Neil Street) Photo Bev Lacey / The Chronicle

RBA says oversupply of apartments poses risk to household finances