The Weekly Advertiser

EDITORIAL | Election: it’s all about population

Dean Lawson Editorial Nov 2017

Sorry to sound like a broken record, but the biggest issue for both Mallee and Wannon electorates in the approaching federal election is population.
Snore, snore, snore!
Fair enough, the subject is starting to get boring considering all the important services we need in our part of the world.
But without population – basically, people – all other issues border on irrelevance.
This is a subject dictated by a philosophical and-or political approach about where to spend money.
Do we provide investment to support where the majority of people are?
Of course, that’s where the votes are and where need is at its most immediate.
But do we also invest heavily in areas we might like people to live, perhaps with a prospect of generating fresh national growth?
The answer is also yes, because there is a terrible imbalance in population across the country and we need to move forward.
But this is where we suddenly venture into a perplexing zone of governance.
You can imagine the lazy questions debated among people in power.
For example: ‘Why pump money, infrastructure and effort into areas that people have left and are diminishing in population?’
We can almost hear the declaration: ‘No people, no need!’ And what about our part of the world? Again, imagine the question: ‘Why should we consider two rural Victorian ‘outpost’ electorates any differently to other far-flung rural and regional areas in other states – Australia is a massive expanse after all?
For a start, most of western Victoria is productive country with the benefit of a temperate climate.
Secondly, we are within easy travelling distance to our capital city – in other words and in a modern context, we’re not that remote.
Thirdly, we already have established cities, towns and settlements – all crying out for one thing – people.
Adding people to our region would be like adding water to a recipe – add people and it all comes together for a mighty dish.
It’s a tough call to suggest we need to put the ‘cart before the horse’ but that is the brave political move we need.
But just what is the ‘cart’?
We need profound reasons for people to make the move – something more than promoting lifestyle opportunities, and yes – something more that the idea of decentralisation of a few government services.
We suspect overseas migrants might be in the mix.
Victoria’s 1850s gold rush almost emptied Melbourne.
Was the swarm of people caused by a prospect of getting rich or was it a concept of opportunity? Probably both.
You could argue that opportunities presented by open, friable agricultural land provided similar prospects.
The discovery of gold happened as much by chance as anything but in a modern society it will be up to governing bodies to be clever as well as brave if they want to take charge of population growth and shift.

The entire April 17, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

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Posted on Apr 17 2019

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