Regional development has been talked about for many decades in the Eurobodalla Shire going back to at least the late 1980’s with the idea of redeveloping the Moruya Airport A few years later, driven by a then general manager, there was talk of encouraging decentralisation of Government and Government Agencies.. The Mogo fire training are came a result of decentralisation language and baiting.The Centre Link business in Batemans Bay is part of decentralisation encouragement and activity. Optic fibre cabling and high speed broad band was promoted in the early 1990’s to encourage business growth in the shire. It was considered that both would attract metropolitan businesses. Some did come however the tyranny of distance and an often failing infrastructure proved the undoing of many and they moved back to the city again. The Select Parliamentary Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation meets today to look at the issue once again. The Committee has already produced an issues paper and are now working towards an interim report by 31 December 2017 with a final report by 28 February 2018.
Eurobodalla Council has already provided a submission that will be presented to Councillors for their retrospective endorsement at tomorrow's briefing. No doubt the present prepared document is a rehash of old file discussions as previous General Manager of Council, Jim Levy was very much of the opinion that regional development should start with decentralisation. In the Eurobodalla Economic Business Forums report of 2013 Labour force and ageing: The projected population numbers show that as the population grows, the percentage of residents of working age (15 to 64 years old) will peak around 2011 at 60% and will then decline to around 50% by 2036. This means that there will be a dwindling number of workers in the Shire compared to the number of non-workers (especially retirees). Conversely, the number of residents over 65 is expected to grow by over 400 per year, doubling from around 9,720 in 2011 to a projected 20,160 over 25 years to 2036.
In net terms, the graph above shows a sizeable net loss of 18-24 year olds, and a net gain of pre-retirees (55-64 yo).
Source What is evident from the above graph is that our youth move away and that they don't return until they are in their 50's. There is little migration of middle ages where the trades and professionals sit because their is not the population base to support them. A disproportional growth in older ages has resulted in a "medical services" boom however even this potential market has been poorly managed with little real investment or growth that would trickle into construction and trades. It has been long argued that decent and proper decentralisation requires modern highway accesses between Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne. The Princes Highway as it services the Eurobodalla Shire requires long term financial commitments from the State and National Governments. The Princes Hwy is identified has National Hwy No 1 however it's funding and planning of upgrades are not reflected. Decentralisation of Government agencies only develops false economies and caters for only one employment type. Bureaucrats and admin staff. What is needed in the Shire is more diversity in employment. Trades, services and professionals with light commercial industry and population growth that generates employment and circulates money in the shire. The shire's ageing demographics is not encouraging as far as providing for younger generations. Our economy cannot function properly with only Government agencies providing employment. It will be interesting to read the submission to the Parliamentary Hearing once it has been endorsed by the Councillors.