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Transcript of launch of Evocities campaign promoting regional NSW: NSW Parliament House: 22 September 2010

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Transcript of launch of Evocities campaign promoting regional NSW, NSW Parliament House

22 September 2010 SCT005/2010

SIMON CREAN: Well, it's good to be back in the Speaker's garden, getting people to move out of the central CBD out to the seven great cities that are associated with this great venture today.

It's funny how life goes through its cycle, Stephen. I remember over three years ago meeting with the councillors, I think at a meeting that was held at Babcock and Brown through Stephen Loosley, from memory, and the Evocities proposal was put to us. And it really struck me as not just exciting but it was going to take off because of the energy that was there and the brand that you're promoting because the brand that you're promoting is a quality lifestyle.

It's challenging people from the capital cities or for people looking for a change to think about living in that quality lifestyle in provincial - in significant towns outside of the central business district.

This does involve an advertising campaign but it's much more than that because, as I've found from going through the Brand Australia launch, you can't concoct something and get people to move. What you've got to do is to promote what you are and to promote the quality of everything that it envisages.

Three years ago I remember also launching our commitment, this money that the Commonwealth is now seeing realised. When I was out with Bob Debus at Bathurst in the election campaign - I remember it well because it was Melbourne Cup Day and I thought this was a very uncivilised thing to be doing, campaigning on a Melbourne Cup Day; the race that stops a nation that didn't stop any campaigning. But there we were and we made the commitment. The money was made available during our term of office, and here we are today.

I'm back as the Minister for Regional Australia. I'm that, courtesy of the election result and the hung parliament. And I see Tony Windsor here. I've had great opportunity to talk with Tony, Rob Oakeshott, of course. But the other Independents - because really the agreement that we've got with the Independents gives us the

opportunity to entrench this concept of localism very much into the way in which we do business and the way in which we govern.

Been talking this morning with Eric Roozendaal, who is also the Minister for Regional Development in New South Wales, about how we coordinate more effectively with New South Wales and the Commonwealth Government level.

But the secret of this success is the brand that I mentioned before. It's the quality of that brand, the lifestyle and what it has to offer.

You've mentioned the sponsors. There's one that I would like to draw attention to and that's the university. I think fundamental to regional development is the importance of education and training within the regions. Charles Sturt, a great university; so is the UNE. But we look, and I look to great opportunities going forward to use the strength of that educational - quality educational presence because it is a drawcard but it adds vitality to the message that is being developed, the strategic vision, the resources that come from it.

I'm excited by the prospect of what we can do for these cities in connecting them far more effectively through communications, through e-commerce, et cetera, with our commitment on broadband.

So I think that there is plenty of scope going forward.

But to those who have been responsible for persisting with this vision, my congratulations go to them. And, Stephen, you and your coordination, I think, has been fantastic.

Richard, thanks for the use of the garden. I'm very impressed with the way in which things have changed since the last time I was in here. But it is a great place to launch the encouragement for people to go beyond here and look for the opportunities out there.

Final point I would make, and I think it's also a very interesting observation, the seven cities from Albury to Wagga Wagga - only in alphabetic order - are not competing against each other, they're doing this together. They've found the commonality in terms of the brand and they are reaching out in a common way to say look at us, look at us for the quality of lifestyle, look at us for the quality of opportunities.

I want to see much greater encouragement for regions doing things together. I want the local involvement. We need to engage localism and local empowerment but we also want people to be cooperating on the things that they have in common because if we get that right we are going to have a much more effective sustainable population and sustainable economy.

So it gives me great pleasure today to launch this. I'm delighted that - as my first official function as the Minister for Regional Australia, with a bit of association with going back a long time with it, so that this is not just something that's fallen here but to underscore the point together we can do great things. The best ideas come from

the local level. Governments are there to resource but resourcing in response to good ideas that stack up.

So I officially launch the Evocities project; look forward to the success of it. Look forward to also seeing what we can do with those art galleries that you've also got out in all of these cities and how we can travel - not just travel the regional arts but draw the regional artistic talent. It's out there. We've got to tap it. And so in the duality of the portfolio I look to those opportunities as well.

Thank you very much.

(Other speaker and questions to other speaker)

QUESTION: [Inaudible question]

SIMON CREAN: There's nothing wrong with Sydney, but people are looking for alternatives. I mean the house prices for one are extraordinarily high. The time it takes to get to work is, in some cases, very excessive for people who've got no choice.

In terms of the services that are offered - they're limitless here. But the question, the issue that people are really being encouraged to think about is alternatives. Not being forced out there. They're being drawn there because if they want to really address the lifestyle issue, they've got a raft of choices to make out there.

As for the competition - of course individuals will, if they think performing arts is more their cup of tea they'll have a view.

But this is not saying you've got one choice.

This is saying you've got seven, just in this project alone. But once you get people in the mindset of looking for realistic alternatives because it provides the spread of offers, then I think all sorts of options open up.

QUESTION: [Inaudible question]

SIMON CREAN: I think we need to - look, this is a campaign that has been driven from the ground up. It's been driven from the local level. This is not something we've sat in Canberra and said we want you to come up with a strategy that gets people to come.

These are all cities that are growing, all got their economic growth strategies, all got population growth. Those figures that Jones was mentioning before about the unemployment rate.

The real challenge for these regions is not demand for labour, it's the skills that go with that labour that really have to be addressed in a local sense. That's why the presence of the universities, the TAFES, the secondary colleges, the trade training centres - all of those initiatives that we and the State Government are funding, this is

where we've got to find the fusion of the programs that deliver and build the outcomes that are being sought.

That's the challenge ahead. That's the exciting challenge - that you've got to start from a base of commitment. It's got to come from the ground up. Not tops down.

QUESTION: [Inaudible question]

SIMON CREAN: Yeah. We're offering a choice. That's what this is about. And encouraging people to think differently because they are looking for the change.

I think it's programs like this that will encourage the tree change, as distinct from the sea change.

QUESTION: [Inaudible question]

SIMON CREAN: Well, I've started, I've only been sworn in a week, but yes, I've had discussions in Victoria, I've had discussions here today, New South Wales. I'm seeing the Queensland Premier later this week. I'll get round, and we'll talk with the other states, but I think the corrdination role is absolutely vital. If you think about it, if the good idea comes forward most of the programs seek access to three levels of funding, Commonwealth, state and local.

I think the challenge is to how we get a responsiveness, a coordinated responsiveness, to good ideas, but they've got to be ideas that stack up. This is one of those that stacked up, this is a downpayment to see how it performs. If it performs, as James has said, why wouldn't you continue funding it? But we're not going to give a blank cheque. We want to see the outcome. We want to see the performance. We know with the enthusiasm that's there that it will be driven. It will be very interesting to assess the progress of it.

QUESTION: [Inaudible question]

SIMON CREAN: We will be - the coordination issue for the COAG agenda needs to be there. These are examples of how coordination might work. The example always helps tell the story. So it's great to have initiatives that we can go along and argue should be had regard to, and how the benefits flow as a result of coordination.

QUESTION: [Inaudible question]

SIMON CREAN: This won't fail. I'm like these guys, I don't believe in failure. We know there are hurdles. We've got to overcome those hurdles. We've got to understand what the barriers are to regions, and cities, provincial cities, realising their potential. No question about the potential. The issue is, how do we help them realise it? That's the challenge. And that is an exciting challenge to be involved in.

QUESTION: [Inaudible question]

SIMON CREAN: Yep. I've had an interest - an epiphany, having developed the policy for the Labor Party in 2007, we proceeded to implement it, but not as

aggressively as we should have. Labor Party policy isn't enough. The agreement with the independents I think will help us entrench it. And that I'm looking forward to doing.

QUESTION: [Inaudible question]

SIMON CREAN: Harry Jenkins as the Speaker? Oh, Harry Jenkins has got admirable qualities to be Speaker. The Parliament will determine who the Speaker is, and that decision will have to have regard to legal advice that is currently being sought, and I haven't seen the results of.

QUESTION: [Inaudible question]

SIMON CREAN: I think all of the - the states in question all have something in the order of regional development funds. But I think that we've got to look beyond those funds.

If you look at the agreement that's been reached with the independents, it identifies a concept of proportionality in terms of health and education. The challenge, therefore, is to make sure that the education needs - and take the Evocities exercise. Each of the cities will have its own economic diversity model. Each of them is going to have their own skill challenges.

How do we ensure that the school system, through the options that are now being offered, cadetships, the trade - the pre-apprenticeships, the trade training centres, how do they respond, in a clever way, to what the regional needs are? How do you articulate it into the TAFE, how do you broaden the opportunities through the universities?

The great thing that I'm seeing with these regional universities is the fusion between the three layers of education, and that is exciting, but they're coming up with their own local solutions. What I'm saying is that the funding model should be much more responsive to creative local solutions, and the opportunity to do that through initiatives that come from the ground up, I think, are, well, they're limitless.