Lynne Mowbray |
The Grafton Chamber of Commerce has come up with ‘big picture ideas’ for the future sustainability of Grafton.
Grafton’s Chamber of Commerce PR Officer Phil Belletty said that the key elements for sustainability are land, water, jobs, people and infrastructure.
“Basically what we’re saying is that we have the land and we have the water, we need people, we need jobs and we need infrastructure,” Mr Belletty said.
“The Chamber has met with Local, State and Federal members to discuss the big ideas for the long term sustainability of our community and we’re willing to have that used that as a pilot program and blueprint for the future.
“In order to do that, they’ve got to invest in Grafton and create a community based on our big ideas that we think will be sustainable and allow us to grow our community to in excess of 35,000 in population, which will mean that they will need to find significant funding for infrastructure.
“If Governments are serious about decentralisation, they need to spend the money in the regional centres. Population growth in Sydney and associated congestion band aid initiatives diverts funding from regional centres.
“The big ideas suggest there are ways of freeing up capital. Politicians need to say to their CEO’s you’ve got 18 months to have 25 per-cent of your workforce, working from home.
“Can you imagine the effect on congestion by taking 25 per-cent of public servants off the trains, roads and buses. And then when they’ve achieved that, you make them target 40 per-cent. This will free up capital, to allow regional centres to be developed and divert population growth to regional areas.
“One of the ideas is that we need flexible zoning – we’re suggesting a 15 kilometre radius, metropolitan area around Grafton where you retain the existing zoning. Any rezoning within this area should be a local matter rather than be tied up in red tape going to State planning.
“Responsibility should be given to the local council and the planners which expedites any new businesses or developments coming into town that require areas to be rezoned; we can deal with them locally.
“We look at everything from the hospital redevelopment, we’ve got to beef up our sporting facilities, and we’ve got to look at our old buildings like the old government offices. We could relocate a major government department to Grafton, and opportunities are there to partner with the private sector in redevelopments to revitalise the CBD area?
“We need to move things around and look for appropriate locations for upgraded sporting facilities.
“We need to be serious about social and affordable housing. There are a lot of people in low socio-economic areas that need appropriate housing and there are massive waiting lists.
“An intermodal transport hub located near the new Grafton Correctional Facility would provide linkages up and down the coast as well as westward. We’ve got a major arterial in the highway that’s going to be up graded, we’ve got an airport there and we’ve got a train line; we’ve got a unique position here in Grafton to support a one day turn around to Brisbane and the port of Brisbane.
“So we’ve got some major trucking infrastructure already here and this will compliment that. But it will also create an industrial and a warehousing hub, so we really need to be able to provide opportunities post the gaol, post the highway bypass and the bridge so that people can relocate here and set up businesses which provide jobs.
“We need to embrace agriculture and we need to have flood security as well.
“Flood mitigation; what we are suggesting is a diversion type weir, where the flood waters in the peak rain season can be diverted over the range. It’s not a cheap exercise but at the moment we’ve got massive droughts over there and we’ve got massive rivers here emptying thousands of gigalitres (GL) every day into the ocean. Why can’t we utilize that; why can’t we have another Snowy type scheme with the Federal and State governments, investing in the food bowl of Australia?
“Seriously it’s a no brainer, but at the end of the day we’re providing ideas and we need to talk about all these sort of things and have the governments at all different levels be serious about community development, not just worrying about splinter groups or minorities; they need to look at the big picture, look at the sustainability for the future.
“So we’re saying we need funding for a feasibility study, we need experts from Federal, State and Local government on a panel to really look at all the issues associated with population growth and that sort of infrastructure spend.
“We are willing to be a pilot program and if we work together we can achieve great things,” he said.