Last week our CEO, myself and the Deputy Mayor attended the 2018 Australian Regional Development Conference in Tweed Heads, NSW.
The aim of the ARDC is to assist the development of regional areas across the country by considering the latest research, commentary and practical experiences in key fields such as employment, liveability, energy and the economy in general.
Our CEO, Chris Adams, was a keynote speaker in the first session, giving a very well regarded presentation on what the City of Karratha has done to diversify and grow.
It was notable how many towns in the regions are investing in renewable energy. Even small towns are constructing 20 MW and larger solar farms and a giant new 265 MW solar facility is being planned near Gladstone.
Former Senator Fiona Nash reported that young people are now leaving the Cities for the regions to access the better lifestyle options. She said last year a net 45,000 people left Sydney for the country.
It was made clear that education is an important part of any successful town – universities bring new ideas, new people and provide a huge boost to the local economy.
Research has also found that successful towns have great local leadership – people with confidence in the region, who are willing to take the lead, have a go and be innovative: “Be yourselves, be positive, identify opportunities and develop your own solutions.”
It is apparent regional Australia now has something of a two-speed economy, with some towns thriving and others struggling. We are fortunate that our town is one of the high-speed ones, but we cannot rest on our laurels – we need to continue our push for employment diversification, local university access, renewable energy, liveability – there is always much to do!