Saturday, July 08, 2006

Country Week 06

I was going to continue the story of the Country Party. However, and as indicated on my main personal bog Personal Reflections -, during the week I received an email from Peter Bailey telling me that the new Country Week web site - - was up. I thought, therefore, that I should say something about Country Week because it bears upon one element of the New England story, the problems involved in combining different regional interests.

The Country Week Expo will be held in Sydney from 11-13 August. The Country Week concept is a simple one. Areas within regional NSW find it hard to attract people and investment to their areas from Sydney. A key problem is that there are deeply entrenched metro views about the attractions of city life as compared to the regions, views holding regardless of on-ground reality. Cities and regions try to compensate for this through individual Sydney promotions, but these are generally too small to get above the static level in a large and complex metro marktplace.

The Country Week concept is a simple one. To overcome this scale problem, why not get all regional areas to combine in a single high intensity promotion of suffiicient scale to attract attention? However, this has proved no easy task.

The cities and regions within NSW all see themselves - to some degree correctly - as in competition with each other. This makes extended cooperation difficult.

We can see this clearly when we look at the history of New England. There often intense competition between centres has made it very difficult for New England interests to combine to define and achieve shared objectives. This competition has been strengthened by the natural tendency of Sydney Governments to buy political favours through selected funding - a school here, a playing ground there - thus accentuating competitive divides. Attempts to overcome these divides form another of the recurrant themes in New Engalnd history.

The remarkable thing about Country Week is the way in which Peter Bailey and his team have been able to overcome this deeply entrenched competition to combine sufficient of regional NSW to make Country Week a leading expo. This has been no easy task, requiring constant travel and persuasion. Pleasingly, New England councils have formed the core of Country Week

The Expos are fun and well worth a visit.

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