Tuesday, 2 October 2007

The tryanny of time and distance

Working as I do in remote and rural schools, I’m in a position to feel the pulse of the bush. At the moment it’s beating as strongly as ever despite the drought and anger about council amalgamations.

The quality of life for bushies has, on the face of it, improved a great deal with the advent of better communications and more efficient transport systems, but in so many ways the bush is discriminated against.

Imagine, for example, that you have a child with a disability in the bush. The dearth of allied health services creates a situation for many families where they have to make hard decisions about staying put, or moving off their properties because their child isn’t getting the required level of support.

These people are taxpayers the same as everyone else, but they receive a fraction of the services, both in terms of quality and choice, available to their city cousins.

This is a major issue in Queensland, the most decentralised state.

The significant infrastructure decisions, those that impact on people in the bush, are generally made by bureaucrats who have their homes and lives in the city. This phenomenon persists irrespective of politics, as all the senior bureaucrats with the real clout live in the city.

I have a simple and effective solution – declare Longreach the state capital.

Why Longreach? Well basically because it’s almost at the geographical centre.

Imagine the difference it would make to decision-making if all the Directors General, all the Ministerial Advisers, and the Governor had a postcode of 4730.

The politicians could please themselves, but they would at least have a Longreach residence during parliamentary sittings.

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