Saturday, July 10, 2010

Who speaks for the Hunter?

One issue that has been coming through quite strongly in comments on Hunter Valley media and also on this blog is the perception that planning and Government actions in the Hunter lack coordination and vision. I asked in response to one comment just what bodies were responsible for providing an integrated voice across the Hunter. My respondent wasn't sure, so I went to do some digging.

There is actually a Minister for the Hunter, presently Jodi McKay, the Member for Newcastle. The Minster's role is not very clear, nor is that of her portfolio. If you follow the portfolio link through, you come to the NSW Premier's & Cabinet web site. However, there is no identifiable structure that I can find within P&C that represents the Hunter Ministry. There also appear to be no ministerial press releases as such, although Jodi McKay's electorate web site has some in her role as member.

The NSW State Plan is meant to provide an over-arching framework for development and service delivery within the state. This includes a part labelled Hunter Local Action Plan. This is essentially a list of activities.

   NSW Planning has a section on its web site entitled Hunter Region. When you click on this you find that there is a Lower Hunter Regional Strategy. The rest of the Valley is not covered beyond an earlier assessment  on coal mining in the Upper Hunter.

Beyond any Hunter specific strategies, the Valley is affected by a myriad of dlg_MapHT other State activities and action plans. So I continued digging to see what might encourage cooperation and coordination between the various councils on one side and all the other bodies affecting the Valley.

Looked at in this way, I found:

I am sure that there are many other bodies. These were the ones I found through a quick search.

I accept that this post is an incomplete analysis. I think, though, that I can see why the Hunter appears so fragmented.


Mark said...

Yes you mentioned a few stakeholders in that list Jim and they each have their own opinion on what is best. You can also see from reader comments on The Herald that there is unhealthy rivalry between LGA. Everywhere you look there is fragmentation, especially so with political seats such as Maitland and federally Paterson(Maitland) and everywhere else. More divide and rule perhaps?

Jim Belshaw said...

It certainly makes divide and rule a lot easier, Mark. However, some of the biggest problems actually come from what are really sins of omission, not commission. If you don't have mechanisms for vertical and horizontal integration or for presenting a broader view, its easy to become locked into your immediate little organisational world.