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 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:
- Regional Development Australia - Hunter. This is in fact the rebadged name of the old Hunter Economic Development Corporation. All the regional development boards have had their name changed.
- Hunter Advantage, a business promotion body.
- Hunter Tourism, the Hunter Regional Tourism Organisation.
- Hunter Valley Research Foundation, the now venerable and successful Valley research body.
- Industry Development Centre (Hunter).
- Hunter Business Chamber.
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.