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Money for city renters to go bush

Thursday, 29th August, 2013

By Andrew Robertson

The State Government believes revisions to its failed regional relocation grant scheme will cause city dwellers to “seriously consider” a move to Broken Hill.

The original scheme, which the government introduced to help end decentralisation, provided $7,000 to homeowners relocating from Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong to regional areas.

But just over 2500 of the grants have been taken up since July 2011, despite the government budgeting for 7,000 grants over fours year, according to the Opposition.

The office of Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner yesterday confirmed just one grant had been given for relocation to Broken Hill since the scheme was introduced.

Under the revamped scheme, eligible long-term renters who move to a regional location at least 100km away will be able to apply for the grant, which will continue to be open to homeowners.

Mr Stoner said the changes, which will come into force from January next year, would provide an added incentive to people considering a move to the bush.

“Now city people can seriously consider a move to a destination like Broken Hill, which offers a range of new job opportunities and a different lifestyle for those unaccustomed to country life,” Mr Stoner said.

Local MP John Williams yesterday railed against opponents of the original scheme, saying the government could not be criticised for trying to stem the exodus of people from the country.

But he acknowledged the scheme failed to deliver. 

“We’re trying to relocate people to the country.

“We put a scheme up that didn’t work so we are now changing it.”

He said the changes were the result of feedback from people who had indicated they would consider moving if the incentives were better. 

Opening the scheme up to renters would expose a lot more people to the grant.

“I think it’s got a greater chance of working than in the past,” Mr Williams said.

“It just recognises that a lot more people rent in Sydney than we first thought.”

The Member for Murray-Darling also welcomed the introduction of another scheme that will give eligible workers $10,000 to take up an unfilled job in the bush for two years. 

Successful applicants to the Skilled Regional Relocation Incentive, which also begins in January, will receive the payment in two instalments.

“We’ve got a shortage of skilled tradesmen in regional NSW,” Mr Williams said.  

“That’s not a bad incentive.”

Asked if the money would convince him to move from the city to the country, Mr Williams said: “I think you would have to be in that frame of mind.” 

Mr Stoner said it was hoped the new grant would appeal to young professionals, recent graduates and young families looking to make their new homes in the regions.

Both grants will be capped each year and approved on a first come first served basis.

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