Greens launch four point plan to renew NSW with regional development
MEDIA RELEASE – 6 February 2015
The Greens NSW regional development spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham has announced the Greens four-point policy to promote focused regional development in NSW, including a Renew Regional NSW Fund levied on coal and mineral royalties and directed towards focused regional development projects aimed at long-term sustainable economic development.
The four points are:
- Renew Regional NSW Fund
- Support for renewable energy sector
- Infrastructure and building critical mass for regional locations
- Protect land and water
A levy of an additional 2% on coal royalties and 1% extra on minerals royalties would provide the Renew Regional NSW Fund with over $1 billion over the four year forward estimates period). It would fund:
- · Energy and water efficiency projects
- · Small-scale renewable energy projects
- · Research and development for sustainable agriculture in a changing climate
- · Marketing and value adding in agricultural sector
- · Waste reduction projects
- · Soil and vegetation conservation projects
“The Greens have a serious plan for sustainable economic development for regional NSW that will improve environmental outcomes and avoid the boom and bust cycle of dependence on mining,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.
“NSW has great potential for renewable energy and much of this sector would be built and maintained in regional NSW. Billions are in investment pipeline pipeline waiting for governments to stop hindering the sector and support its potential.
“The Renew Regional NSW Fund would direct significant money from the coal and mining sector into long-term sustainable projects that improve the economic and environmental efficiency of agriculture and other industries.
“Small to medium sized business are the job generating sector of the economy and this fund will be available for those businesses to improve their productivity, efficiency and sustainability, reduce waste, and find new markets.
“Modern technologies such as fibre optic internet should enable many sectors of the economy to operate from regional areas. The Greens support the rapid roll out of the NBN and other technologies, as well as policies to encourage a critical mass of activity to make regional operations viable.
“The relocation of government departments and agencies, as well as incentives for private business to set up in regional locations, can help provide a viable critical mass of activity and specialisation.
“The Greens’ long-term vision for NSW is encouraging the relocation to and sustainable economic activity in medium sized cities and towns, connected by high speed broadband and good land and air transport links.
“Critical for the future of regional NSW is protecting our previous agricultural land, sensitive environmental areas, and water resources from the threat of mining and gas extraction. The Greens policy is for responsible mining that only occurs where it will not damage productive agricultural land or spoil water resources.
“Clean energy, sustainable agriculture, value adding, manufacturing and the services sector will provide long term economic development for regional NSW,” Mr Buckingham said.
Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916
NSW Greens policy initiative – Four Point Regional Renewal Plan for NSW
A four part plan for reinvigorating and refocusing regional development in NSW.
The Greens believe that regional NSW can flourish economically, transition to a more sustainable basis, and be an attractive, affordable, interesting and prosperous place to live for a growing number of Australians. However, regional NSW needs policies that do more than just facilitate mining. It needs policies that protect and promote sustainable agriculture, a clean energy industry and a diverse range of manufacturing and service industries.
The NSW government’s efforts at regional development have been ad hoc, with a focus on providing infrastructure for the mining industry. Mining has always been a boom and bust industry, often displaces other industries, and is environmentally destructive. It is capital intensive and often employs workers from outside the region on a drive in-drive out or fly in-fly out basis. The NSW government should put in place strategies to broaden the economic base of regional economies, with a focus on long-term sustainable sectors.
Sydney’s extremely high house prices, amenity issues and serious issues with traffic congestion, mean that more and more people are looking to re-locate to regional areas. Regional areas offer affordable housing, clean air, and a great lifestyle. Modern transport and communications technologies mean that people can stay connected while living in regional areas. The major impediment is often employment, which is why government policies to encourage a broad range of sectors to provide employment opportunities in regional areas are critical.
NSW is a large land mass with significant land and water resources. There is huge potential for regional centres to be economic and job hubs that encourage people to relocate. There is no real reason why population has to be so concentrated in Sydney. Europe and the United States have less centralised populations, with many medium sized cities and large towns. This will avoid some major infrastructure problems associated with a major metropolis like Sydney and improve quality of life.
1) Renew Regional NSW Fund
A levy of an additional 2% on existing royalties on coal and 1% extra on minerals royalties would provide for funding (approximately than $1 billion over the 4 year forward estimates period) to stimulate and transition the regional NSW economy in a focused way. The focus is on making agriculture and other industries more productive, efficient, resilient, and assisting industries in finding new domestic and international markets. This will include funds for:
- energy and water efficiency projects
- small-scale renewable energy projects
- research and development for sustainable agriculture in a changing climate
- marketing and value adding in agriculture sector
- waste reduction
- soil and vegetation conservation projects
2) Support renewable energy as a key sector for regional NSW
To deal with climate change our society must transition its energy systems from fossil fuels to renewable energy and phase out fossil fuel mining including coal and coal seam gas. The very nature of renewable energy means it is likely to be located in regional areas with good solar or wind resources. Building renewable energy projects will create significant economic activity in both the construction and maintenance phase and fill the economic gap as coal and gas mining is phased out in regional areas. The nature of renewable energy is that it can be located on marginal land, avoiding land use conflict with agriculture.
The Greens support renewable energy through federal policies such as the Renewable Energy Target, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and a carbon price. The Greens want to see both unnecessary politically motivated barriers to the development of renewable energy removed from the planning system, and provisions that recognise the importance of renewable energy projects. The Greens will also announce a more detailed plan for transitioning to renewable energy at a later date.
3) Infrastructure and critical mass for regional locations
The Greens support investment in communications and transport infrastructure and the relocation of government agencies and private businesses to regional locations to provide economic activity and employment opportunities in regional centres. In an increasingly globalised and online world, a quality National Broadband Network will enable businesses and services to operate from regional areas and the Greens strongly support a quality NBN for regional areas. Reliable transport land and air transport are also key.
The Greens also support policies to encourage the relocation of government and private sectors to re-locate to regional areas can provide a critical mass of activity to make regional operations viable and foster areas of specialisation.
The Greens support incentives like YEAH! Local to locate value-adding marketing to the manufacturing and agricultural sector in regional areas and promote these products to markets.
4) Protect land and water
We must protect productive land and critical water resources from extractive industries. The Greens would legislate protection for productive agricultural land, underground water resources, critical industry clusters – including tourism, and sensitive environmental areas. The Greens would provide local councils and communities with the power to rule out extractive industries in certain areas through their Local Environment Plan and protect their regional identity. The Greens have developed a Responsible Mining Bill to legislate for the protection of critical resources including water, productive agricultural land, forests and biodiversity from extractive industries. This will ensure the economic drivers for regional communities into the future are protected from short term destructive development.