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EDITORIAL: Decentralisation insight

We hope our political leaders take note of a new university research paper that provides insight into how Victoria can approach the concept of decentralisation.

Researchers from RMIT, Monash and University of Melbourne have used the nation’s capital Canberra as an historical example of how decentralisation can work.

In a report called Balancing Victoria: Prospects for Decentralisation, the research team has suggested – surprise, surprise – that there needs to be long-term government commitment and broad community buy-in for decentralisation to work.

Australia started building Canberra in regional Australia from scratch in the early 1900s after Federation. Report authors said its success as a thriving city had come from long-term cross-institutional support. Report co-author RMIT Research and Innovation vice-chancellor Professor Ralph Horne said, “Victoria planners and governments can learn a lot from the Canberra model, particularly the government commitment and community buy-in as the way to build successful cities.

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“Decentralisation needs to be integrated into a wider, long-term network of policies on affordable housing, accessible transport, high-speed rail and long-range economic planning to be successful.

“Most importantly, it needs bipartisan support. It can’t be treated as another political football.”

The truth is, we probably didn’t need independent online hub Balance Victoria to commission a study to understand how and why decentralisation could work in Victoria. Or that it would represent a way of both generating statewide growth and combating metropolitan urban sprawl and congestion.

What it does, however, is provide an academic element to a debate about an issue that seems too obvious to treat as isolated political policy.

Considering the development opportunities that appear to be springing up in our part of the world, the Wimmera would be a primary target for a serious and dedicated decentralisation plan.

The entire October 23, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!