Saturday, May 14, 2011

Newcastle is neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring

My post New England & the death of a thousand semantic cuts drew quite long comments from Greg. The following is an edited excerpt from Greg's comments. My own views follow at the end.

Greg wrote:

The thing that gets up my nose is the way that the term "regional" is used as a general term for non-capital city Australia.

I interpret regional as referring to towns and small cities of less than 100,000 people.

So where does a city like Newcastle fit into that picture? It is neither a large capital city nor a small regional city. It is a metropolis of about 1/2 million people with particular (neglected) needs in terms of transport, police, health care etc. Yet it does also have a hinterland which is rural/country/regional with which it is closely connected. It has elements of both city and country but is probably neither. It is in a no mans land and falls between the cracks of such broad descriptors Over the last of city/country or metropolitan/regional.

Because of not really fitting either category but having elements of both it's needs nearly always go unaddressed when discussions of metropolitan vs. regional issues emerge.

It is probably obvious what I am driving at in the comment above, but just to put it another way - Newcastle tends to be regarded as regional whenever there is discussion of city issues (ie. capital), but it also tends to be equally regarded as being city when there is discussion of regional issues (ie. country). So it tends to fall through the cracks as being neither one nor the other.

Greg is right, of course, and it's a real problem. Let me illustrate.

Over the last twenty years in Government tourism promotion there has been a two brand strategy, brand Sydney and brand NSW. Newcastle simply gets lumped into brand NSW.

In terms of many State Government planning strategies, Newcastle is simply lumped in with Sydney as part of Greater Sydney. This actually puts a divide between Newcastle and its hinterland. It affects not just planning, but the statistical data on which planning is based.

In terms of the ARIA remoteness indicators on which so much planning and funding is based, Newcastle is lumped in with Sydney as major city. Nearby Maitland is inner regional. Parts of the Hunter are outer regional. For funding purposes, Newcastle is sometimes classified as regional, at other times not.

Where does Newcastle really fit into all this? The answer is that it doesn't. It is neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring. In all, it's a mess. 




Mark said...

And this post just highlights the problem that the Lower Hunter has had ever since it was opened up to free settlers since the very early 1800s.

Jim Belshaw said...

Dead right, Mark.

CQ said...

Newcastle could be a tourism gold mine if the government put in the right infrastructure. Blatantly obvious, but they prefer to let private companies build up suburban shopping centres than play the multi-faceted strengths of the region!