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Mayor rejects population forecast

Friday, 11th January, 2013

A NSW Government action plan suggests the region’s population will fall by 25 per cent by 2031. A NSW Government action plan suggests the region’s population will fall by 25 per cent by 2031.

By Andrew Robertson

Mayor Wincen Cuy has rejected a government “action plan” for the Far West which forecasts a 25 per cent drop in population, saying future projects could actually increase the population.

The so-called Far West Regional Action Plan was one of six regional action plans released late last month by the Minister for Western NSW, Kevin Humphries.

Mr Humphries said the plans outlined the government’s priorities for each region for the next two years and were put together after extensive consultation.

In the Far West plan, on a page headed “About Our Region”, the region’s population of 22,349 is projected to be less than 17,000 by 2031.

Over the same period the region - which includes Broken Hill, White Cliffs, Wilcannia, Menindee and Ivanhoe - is expected to lose 3500 houses.

Mayor Cuy said he had not read the report and did not know how the NSW Government had came up with the projected 25 per cent decline in population.

But he refused to accept it.

“We shouldn’t be accepting that as fact,” the mayor said.

The region, he said, had much to look forward to, including job-creating projects such as AGL’s Broken Hill solar plant and, probably most importantly, Carpentaria’s proposed Hawsons iron ore mine, west of the city.

“You could be looking at an increase of three or four thousand people.

“We should be looking at the future with optimism, not pessimism.”

But he said the region needed to work to secure its own future and look at “where we can diversify into the future”, as well as foster existing industries.

It was not up to the government to prop up the region with funding.

“We don’t need handouts from the State Government; we need logistical support and their knowledge at this particular point in time.”

A spokesman for the Department of Planning said the figures were used to help plan for the State’s future and “do not reflect a desired government outcome”.

“These figures are long-term population projections which are based on existing and expected future trends in fertility, mortality and migration assumptions which may or may not eventuate,” the spokesman said.

“We are preparing updated population projections and will be consulting with councils as part of this process, including Broken Hill City Council.”

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