Seftons’ managing director Robbie Sefton has shared her thoughts on decentralisation, believing investment in infrastructure and “big picture” thinking are vital to the economic prosperity of rural and regional Australia.
Robbie spoke to presenter Paul Turton on ABC New England North West about the issue, which has attracted headlines recently after Coalition partners The Nationals announced a fresh push for the relocation of Canberra-based departments and agencies to non-metropolitan centres.
Speaking about continuing her own communications career in a regional centre and establishing a thriving business, Robbie said there were two things critical for success.
“Our business relies on good people and good infrastructure so to be based in the bush, that’s what you need,” she said.
With the improvements in telecommunications and airline schedules in regional centres, it was becoming more viable for young professionals and businesses to call these areas home, with quality of life – housing costs and daily commutes – also adding to the attraction of country living.
However, there was still work to do, Robbie said, and “big picture” thinking at state and federal government levels was key to the continuing economic growth of non-metropolitan centres.
Robbie said investment in infrastructure was one of the most important things governments could do and welcomed the funding announced in last week’s Federal Budget for the Inland Rail freight project between Brisbane and Melbourne.
But there were other initiatives worthy of similar consideration, she said, citing a push by Deniliquin in southern NSW to establish a major regional air freight facility.
The local council has just signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Wagners, the group that built Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport in Toowoomba, which has opened up significant business, tourism and freight opportunities for the region.
Robbie said it was this kind of thinking that would improve the prosperity of rural and regional Australia and make them more attractive areas for relocation for individuals, businesses and government bodies into the future.
“I would like us to see what’s possible – not being locked into just one way of thinking but always being nimble and always trying to find a different way of doing things,” she said.
Listen here to the full interview on ABC New England North West.