Monday, 5 October 2020

Nationals MP for Clarence is jumping up and down about the Clarence Valley being left out of the NSW-Qld border bubble. Well the fact of the matter is that the O'Farrell-Baird-Berejilkian Government has had 9 years to reverse the error that led to the current problem & neither he, his party or the government have addressed the issue


Sometime in the 21st Century the New South Wales Government invited a bee into its bonnet concerning a need to amalgamate regional local government areas with a view to eventually creating mega-councils and, when that policy was not greeted with enthusiasm (indeed sometimes with open rebellion) it decided to create communities of interest containing clusters of local government areas 'sharing' resources.

Down in Sydney - somewhere between Macquarie Street and Macquarie Towers - the state government decided to overturn the genuine Northern Rivers community of interest built up over the last 179 years and reclassify the Clarence Valley as "Mid-North Coast"

Although many in the Clarence Valley fought back against being lumped in with 'southerners' who did not share a good many of our values, aspirations or concerns, the state government kept insisting.

By 2006 only the Australian Bureau of Meteorology consistently referred to the Clarence Valley as being in the Northern Rivers region and much later the valley was included with the other historical Northern Rivers areas in the one state health district.

When it came to NSW Government agencies generally, they tended to gather data about the Clarence Valley, its communities and residents as part of the newly defined "Mid-North Coast".

We were frequently merged with Coffs Harbour when it came to recording crime, unemployment  levels, transport infrastructure and, at a regional planning level we were lumped with Coffs Harbour, Belligen, Nambucca, Kempsey, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Greater Taree and Great Lakes local government areas. 

Now the National Party members of the O'Farrel-Baird-Berejiklian Government were well aware of the fact that Clarence Valley communities never considered the reclassification was anything but a political move by a city-centric government and were instinctively refusing to turn their eyes south.

However, I do not recall any individual or combined push by Chris Gulapatis, Geoff Provest or Ben Franklin to reverse that "Mid-North Coast" label before the global pandemic intruded into the state.

So it should not come as a surprise that when the Queensland Government began to look for information about where the Clarence Valley was both geographically and socially when considering its response to COVID-19, it found us in what appeared to be a large population cluster which was too close for comfort to the outer fringes of heavily populated areas like the Hunter-Newcastle and Central Coast.

Former surveyor Chris Gulaptis can go to the newspapers calling the Clarence Valley's exclusion from the Northern Rivers border bubble "ridiculous", "bizarre, perplexing and unnecessary" but he has sat on his hands for almost nine years happily ignoring what locals had been telling him during those years - that the time would come when we would all rue the day that the NSW Government on paper ejected us from the Northern Rivers.

Cartography based solely on political ideology is a b*tch, Mr. Gulaptis. 

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