RESCUE packages for towns and cities facing a jobs’ crisis might help in the short term, but building long term resilience to cope with the closures of major businesses is more important, according to Centroc chair and Parkes mayor Cr Ken Keith.
Cr Keith chairs the Centroc group made up of 17 central NSW councils.
He said Parkes had experienced a similar situation to the one Orange was facing with the pending Electrolux closure when the Austop wool processing plant closed in 2005, putting 110 people out of a job.
When it comes to rescue packages, he believes governments are more likely to give extra support to bigger cities, but for regional areas the key issue was attracting more businesses with tax or other incentives.
“If you lose that major employer in a short period of time we need to build resilience and attract more small businesses to absorb the blow,” he said.
“You’re better off to have 10 smaller businesses with 10 employees each than one business with 100.”
Cr Keith said next year Centroc and the state government’s western NSW minerals and resources development taskforce would focus on ways mining communities can adjust to the cyclic nature of the industry and the variation in population as well as tactics to recover from major closures.
He said the state government had claimed to be the government for regional development when elected, but projections for the area do not anticipate major population increases.
“They’re not planning for it to be successful,” he said.
“We need to encourage the government to develop the regions.”
Cr Keith said Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss’s commitment to fast track the inland rail network would benefit the whole region and attract more businesses.
While encouraging more mining was important, Cr Keith said he would like to see other industries relocate to the central west.
“People manufacturer goods in western Sydney and there is no reason they couldn’t set up in the central west,” he said.
But to attract the businesses away from the city Cr Keith said infrastructure upgrades would help, including the Bells Line Expressway and better rail links to ports for export.