NSW Farmers is calling for the appointment of a dedicated Minister for Western New South Wales to champion the interests of those beyond the Great Dividing Range and to ensure the interests of industries such as agriculture have another voice around the cabinet table.
Western New South Wales provides significant economic and social value to the state. While less densely populated that the metropolitan areas that cling to the coast, its value of land and natural resources are an important part of what makes New South Wales unique.
Across and within various terms, successive governments have given and also removed a senior advocate for Western New South Wales. The current Government has appointed a Minister for Regional New South Wales and, while this is welcome, the focus of the Minister is stretched. There is no doubting that any position that advocates at the most senior levels of Government is beneficial. However, having one advocate does not recognise the unique qualities that each region contributes.
If Western Sydney can have its own minister, then western New South Wales deserves on too.
The issues, challenges and opportunities for the areas of the state west of the Great Dividing Range are more complex and vastly different to those for communities to the east.
NSW Farmers considers that there is a strong economic development argument to be made for the appointment of a Minister for Western New South Wales, whose focus would include:
- attention to the challenges of distance in service delivery and supply chains,
- being a broker both within and between government for equity in service delivery; and
- championing the needs and aspirations of primary producers and the dispersed communities that they contribute to.
The Minister’s task would be to gain the best outcome for place-based service delivery, infrastructure that is fit for purpose and future proofed, and the development of decentralised economic hubs to attract and retain skilled professionals and their families.
A critical role for a Minister for Western New South Wales would be to ensure that decentralisation is a result of job and entrepreneurial opportunities, and that public sector and private business are best supported to deliver economic outcomes for the local economy as well as the state’s.