The Hunter Region Needs Change !

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Over the past few months some of Newcastle and the Hunters’ high profile individuals have been copping a pizzling by the media. A lot of this is just cyber bullying in the name of freedom of the press. Why then are we surprised to hear of kids being cyber bullied in the playground when from the time the News starts through to the current affairs programs they are seeing supposedly bad people bullied by the media. A 3 minute in depth investigation, a 30, 20, 10 second sensational grab designed to sway your opinion to what the story teller wants you to believe. It’s not until you speak to those at the centre or read an in depth analysis that you realise how nothing that was said in those 30 seconds was wrong just taken totally out of context.

Thus it is with Newcastle and the Hunter that good local people who wanted to effect a change in the way the region has been treated for decades got caught up by what is basically bad and discriminatory legislation. This legislation prevents only (3) classes of companies and individuals from assisting with political campaigns through donations. No to Tobacco, No to Gaming and Liquor and No to Property Developers but if you’re a trade union, pharmaceutical industry, professional body, media baron, gun lobby or any other group you’re OK.

There’s no denying what we have seen and been told by the media sounds wrong and could be in contravention of the legislation, we’ll leave that to those who can’t be questioned in ICAC to decide. It’s just the spending of millions and millions of dollars chasing contributions made in contravention to bad and discriminatory legislation, the ripping apart by the media of individuals who were brave enough to stick their hands up to try and lead change away from the old status quo that should be questioned. The question remaining is has it cleaned up anything in politics?  – Is it not just the Westminster system and will it just set Newcastle and the Hunter back 20 years politically.

The commercial and industrial property market is on one level still suffering the rolling shock of the mining and manufacturing down turn with industrial and commercial rents sliding back to levels they were 5 or more years ago. Advice – Keep your tenant! The other level of the market is showing resilience even strength as investors and owner occupiers try to find a home for their funds in fixed assets. Yields for well leased property are remaining low provided there is no risk of the property becoming vacant over the next few years.

The region has been through these downturns before but rarely have they been exacerbated by coinciding with a strong Aussie $. The rise in confidence for the greenback may be the respite the coal companies are looking for but it needs to be prolonged before it reignites their spending. This only goes to show we are too reliant on Mining and Manufacturing and need new industries relocating here and this means we need Governments assisting us.

The region needs strong and influential local members who are in Government – no matter which party is in power, we need to follow the power as only then will we be taken seriously in Macquarie Street and Canberra. Just because the change we so badly needed has been cut short doesn’t mean we should shrink away from change. Unless we embrace political change, unless we encourage new industries and development we are at risk of shrivelling back to our same old ways, and with that drifting aimlessly until we become an oversized retirement village.

by Steven Dick

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