Connectivity – whether it is transport or telecommunications connectivity – is critical to regional growth and development.
Transport and freight connectivity – Inland Rail
Around 400 people packed the Parkes Leagues Club last week to attend the first Inland Rail Conference. Representatives from freight, logistics & supply chain, rail, tech, banking, supermarkets, steel, construction, employment, data and mining industries, as well as local government, state government, federal government, attended the two-day event.
What is clear from the conference, is that the Inland Rail has bipartisan support and will become one of the nation’s most important pieces of infrastructure. As Parkes Mayor, Cr Ken Keith said, “Inland Rail will be a catalyst to change freight movement in Australia.”
There are still challenges ahead, including cost, concerns from some landholders on route, and linking the last mile to ports at the Brisbane and Melbourne ends, but challenges can be overcome through community engagement, planning and continued bipartisan support.
Most significant for regional development in Central West NSW, is the role Parkes will play.
The Deputy PM and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Michael McCormack said at the conference, “Parkes is the epicentre of the Inland Rail project.”
Anthony Albanese, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development, said “Parkes is set to become Australia’s most important inland logistics hub.”
There remains an urgent need for robust, future-proof and wide-reaching telecommunications capabilities in Central West NSW, specifically the rectification of mobile blackspots and sufficient NBN capacity. Growth in the region is currently stunted by inadequate telecommunications. There remain 369 mobile black spots in Central West NSW.
Over the past 18 months, RDA Central West has been working with Central NSW Councils (Centroc) on a regional telecommunications project, providing a coordinated whole-of-region approach to addressing key telecommunications issues across the Central West NSW region. Above all, this has become a capability-building project for communities, businesses and councils, identifying pathways to rectification.
There is currently some Government funding available to invest in communications infrastructure and deliver improved regional voice and data connectivity. Community groups and businesses should contact councils and Mobile and Internet Infrastructure Providers to find solutions that meet local needs.
We encourage people to register mobile and internet issues on the NSW Government’s Connecting Country Communities map before 15 August – https://www.nsw.gov.au/improving-nsw/regional-nsw/regional-growth-fund/connecting-country-communities/