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Bush left to decline

Friday, 6th April, 2012

 By Gayle Hogan

The region’s population would continue to decline unless policies and attitudes changed to encourage people to move inland, according to Regional Development Australia Far West CEO, Linda Nadge.

With figures from the Bureau of Statistics showing Broken Hill had the second largest population drop in NSW between 2010 and 2011, Ms Nadge said the decision not to include Broken Hill in the next rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) didn’t help.

“That would have had a huge benefit on population retention I’m sure. It’s just such an essential service.”

Stopping the exodus of people from inland to the coast was a State and national challenge which needed to be addressed, according to Ms Nadge.

“It’s a challenge beyond the RDA’s scope requiring a change in attitudes and policy to support communities inland.

“It’s a massive challenge.”

“We’re hearing some positive signs from both the State and Federal governments, we’re just not seeing it.

“Until then inland Australia is still going to be suffering.”

The far west’s population fell by 81 people over a 12 month period - and was the only statistical division to experience a fall.

Ms Nadge said the figures were no surprise.

“There’s a pattern here emerging over the years,” she said.

“It’s been a trend forming and has been going on for quite some time.”

“There was nothing unusual in the data in my opinion. A significant part of New South Wales is affected by slow growth.”

Ms Nadge said it was not all doom and gloom however, with a number of mining projects in the region offering some hope for population retention.

“Thank goodness there are some ongoing mining projects,” Ms Nadge said.

“We’re really looking forward to new mining investment.”

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