Tuesday, 19th April, 2011
By John Casey
Broken Hill's profile with the Federal Minister for Regional Australia has grown exponentially after a delegation from the city met with Simon Crean in Canberra yesterday.
The seven-member Broken Hill contingent walked away from their 45-minute briefing in the Minister's office in an upbeat frame of mind.
The opportunity to meet face to face with Mr Crean just 25 days out from the close of applications to share in $100 million of federal funding was crucial according to Regional Development Australia Far West acting chairperson, Darriea Turley.
"We were given a very positive hearing," Mrs Turley said.
"Minister Crean is very focused on unleashing the power of regional Australia and after hearing our pitch he asked for further feedback from our planned meetings with NSW powerbrokers which I believe was a good sign," she added.
RDA Far West CEO Linda Nadge and other members of the Canberra deputation will meet with the new State Minister for Western NSW Kevin Humphries in Sydney this morning.
"We had a great chance to lift the profile of Broken Hill with Mr Crean and the Minister was very positive in his responses to our presentations," Mrs Nadge said.
"It was a very interactive meeting with Mr Crean asking many questions about our projects.
"There was a real sense that he was impressed with the connectivity of our projects and he now has an increased awareness of our issues," Mrs Nadge continued.
Minister Crean expressed a lot of interest in the development of the film studio and the proposed Ramsar listing of Menindee Lakes, both of which have the potential to generate jobs, which is a key criteria to secure federal funds.
"Mr Crean is very keen to see jobs created in regional Australia and we were able to illustrate to him that our projects will achieve that," Mrs Turley said.
"He was also very impressed with the primary health care services provided in our region such as the programs run by the Royal Flying Doctor Service and understood the connectivity of not only creating jobs, but maintaining a healthy workforce as well," she added.
Mrs Turley said taking such a diverse team of people - which included Sue Andrews (Pastoralists Assoc.), Vince Gauci (BH Community Foundation), Clyde Thompson (RFDS) and Frank Zaknich (BH City Council) - added weight to the presentation.
"The far west can't survive alone and presenting a united front with a range of key stakeholders indicated our willingness to work as a team," she continued.
The briefing with Minister Crean lasted close to one hour with each delegate allocated time to provide an overview of their individual projects.
"This meeting wasn't about seeking any commitment from the Minister, just the opportunity to tell him part of what is the great story of our region," Mrs Nadge said.
"I am very happy with what we were able to achieve and look forward to positive on-going attention from the Minister," she added.
Interestingly, the presentation from Vince Gauci seeking tax concessions for those who donate money to the BH Community Foundation generated plenty of dialogue.
"There was a lot of interaction back and forth between Vince and the Minister," Mrs Nadge said.
"Mr Crean was very interested to hear about the broader implications that programs like the Community Foundation could have in other mining cities in Australia."
As part of the briefing Mr Crean was again invited to visit Broken Hill and Mrs Nadge said she was "hopeful" of the Minister taking up the offer.