What can be done to arrest the AGING of the HUNTER REGION

ITF028009In a commercial world – that being the world where we spend to exist, trade money for goods and services – we need the population spending to sustain its very existence.  There is plenty of data available showing that in a Western economy household spending peaks in the bracket from 46–50 years of age.  This spending increases through your life, really starting to take off in your mid 20’s and then dropping away dramatically from 50 as you save for retirement and  the kids leave the family home.  From 65 on-wards your spending becomes – let’s say frugal.

So what does this have to do with life in the Hunter?  Well according to the Hunter Valley Research Foundation our current dependency ratio is 57.  That is 57%of the population is either below 15 years of age or greater than 65 years of age.  That means the economy – the life style we have now is supported in the main by 43% of the population.  According to research from Newcastle University in (2031) our dependency ratio will be 74.  And according to the same research the largest form of migration into this Region will be aged migration escaping the Sydney Metro area.

With manufacturing dying before our eyes (our traditional staple employer) from the lack of Federal protection and the coal industry under threat from the cleaner more abundant Coal Seam Gas reserves, how can we arrest the Aging of Our Region.

We can talk about Rail Lines, we can invest in Medical Technology and Services (cause heaven knows we will need them), we can look at Defence Hubs, University growth but all of this is just playing at the edges and will do little to nothing to arrest the aging profile.  We need industries that can double the size of our working population within 5 to 10 years.  Outsiders claim Newcastle to be a model of resilience post BHP – I say we were dead lucky to have an easily accessible coal reserve on our door step.  This next looming change will not be that easy to shrug off.

There is one industry and one industry only out there at the moment.  This industry has the ability to generate 60,000 jobs during its operation, will require hundreds of  five-star hotel rooms, and will require a high speed rail link into Sydney.  That is Sydney’s second International Airport.

Newcastle and the Hunter Region has the resources, the land and I believe the general public desire for it to be located here – all we need now is the political will and foresight to gift it to this Region.

Steven Dick
Director Raine & Horne Commercial Newcastle

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