This post is the second follow up to New England manifesto & the NSW elections setting out suggested questions to be asked of New England candidates at the March NSW elections.
How will your policies help develop inland New England, the Tablelands, Slopes and Western Plains?
This question has been deliberately left open and non-prescriptive to give candidates full opportunity to put forward their own ideas.
Inland New England has been in structural decline for a very long time. As late as 1977, official projections as well as local sentiments still saw the possibility of significant growth (Atlas of New England Geography, Geography Department, Armidale 1977). Decline accelerated after 1977.
Most recently, there has been some renewed population growth, but this is coming off a low base. To compound problems, official planning is based on statistical projections that have low to zero growth built in. This type of thinking can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Over the last fifty years, the policy responses intended to address inland New England's decline have been sporadic, ad-hoc and ineffective. We need to turn this around.
Candidates responses to this question will be subject to detailed evaluation to measure the likely direct costs and benefits of the ideas. Generalised, state wide policy proposals will be evaluated in terms of their local effects.