Locals have their say
Thursday, 1st March, 2012
By Erica Visser
Broken Hill heard from State Ministers earlier in the week, but on Tuesday night it was time for locals to have their say.
Around 100 people attended the Far West NSW 2021 meeting at the racecourse to provide input into a 10 year regional action plan.
Similar meetings are being held in regional areas right around NSW with the aim of determining community priorities and needs.
Those who attended the meeting heard from various ministers but the focus of the night was what came out of the discussions between tables about the Far West’s future.
Common themes of the night included improving employment opportunities, diversification away from mining and the need for superior transport services and funding for a proposed haulage and bypass roads which would prevent continued truck damage to Williams and Iodide Streets.
Other prominent issues that were brought up included youth homelessness, uranium exploration and the Murray-Darling Basin.
In a closing speech, Minister for Family and Community Services and Minister for Women, Pru Goward said that the region’s economy was set to take off with new mines opening - particularly if a uranium mining bill was passed.
“With the foreseen mining boom, that could go for 30 years if uranium is passed...the whole community needs to be part of that growth, there shouldn’t be a case where some can benefit and others cannot,” she said.
“You are a long way from Sydney and probably feel like some of the people who are making the decisions don’t know what’s best and have never been to the region - it’s not a one size fits all.
“That second speed is where we really need to focus.”
Uranium mining has sparked a great degree of interest since a 26 year ban on its exploration was lifted earlier this month.
The State Opposition has since suggested that legalising the mining of uranium will not be far off, but Minister for Western NSW, Healthy Lifestyles and Mental Health, Kevin Humphries, was quick to assure locals during his three day trip that legal exploration did not equal mining.
“Let’s get one thing clear - it’s uranium exploration, not mining - we don’t want (local Member for Murray-Darling) John Williams walking around like a glowstick just yet,” Mr Humphries quipped.
Mr Williams, however, had roads on his mind last night and he reiterated his confidence in the region’s ability to access more State and Federal funding for repairs and upgrades.
“It’s a real step forward for local people and stakeholders to have an opportunity to have a say in what they’re expecting in regards to infrastructure,” Mr Williams said.
“I think the Government has put a lot of effort into this project, it was developed well before the election.
“We visited the Silver City Highway yesterday and went just past Packsaddle. We will head to the Cobb Highway tomorrow, weather permitting, and we’ll head to Wentworth and drive back through Balranald.”
Mayor Wincen Cuy said that he believed that most of the prominent issues the city faced were brought up within the local forum.
“I think the general consensus was that most people looked at employment and sustainability in the region, but of course each table had its own niches,” Mayor Cuy said.
Only two tables brought up the issue of water management, but Mayor Cuy said that the Government could not commit to water.
“I think that we can’t be guaranteed water...we can only seek a commitment that we can have continued access to our current supply,” he said.