Saturday, November 18, 2006

NSW Ten Year Plan and New England - Conclusions

This is the last of my immediate posts on the implications of the NSW Government's Ten Year Plan for New England.

The two immediate posts took a huge amount of time to prepare. The date on the posts is the date I started writing each one. In fact, between them they took the best part of two full days to complete.

For reasons I will explain in a moment, I have come to a very negative conclusion. I may be wrong here and as much as possible I have tried to make my arguments transparent. I welcome corrections and discussions.

Good planning starts with an understanding of the needs to be met. For that reason, my first post looked at New England's needs. As a single person, even a well informed one, I cannot pretend to understand every need across New England. Still, as best I could, I tried to work out and present at least some of the key needs.

The second post looks at the detail of the Plan against identified needs. The Plan is a long document with considerable detail. I may well have got things wrong. Again, I am happy to be corrected on errors.

As I see it, the gap between the Plan and New England's needs is huge.

For reasons outlined in the first post, New England needs economic development. This is, I think, the weakest area of the Plan in a general sense. There is nothing in the Plan that will help New England meet its development needs.

New England also faces an aging population. Here our problem is much greater than that facing Sydney. While there are activities within the Plan that relate to aging, they are spread across priority areas and are not integrated in any way. In fact, the Plan does not regard aging as a key issue at all.

Perhaps not unexpectedly, the Plan does not address the issue of integration and coordination within New England.

This is important across a range of areas. In technical education, for example, the limited population and economic base in each locality or small sub-regional area limits what can be done. However, this problem can be addressed in part through cooperation and resource sharing.

Beyond these examples, my simple analysis identified a number of other priority areas that are either not addressed or addressed imperfectly in the Plan.

A core problem is that Sydney and New England are in fundamental and uneven economic competition. New England needs to attract people and investment from Sydney or that might otherwise have gone to Sydney.

Take tourism as an example. To really increase visitor traffic and spend, New England has to develop itself as a destination in its own right. This is very hard when the place is treated as a series of disconnected localities and regions.

My ability to influence things through this blog is obviously limited. But what I can do is to continue to try to present the broader New England, to use my analytical skills to look at things in new ways.

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