Inspire : Public Works Professional Sept - Oct 2013
20 Public Works Professional September-October 2013 The sustainability of Australia's country towns has come to the fore in Australian public policy in recent years. Originally established as outposts in the Australian frontier, these places opened up the inland to commodity and subsequently resource development -- the backbone of our national wealth. However, modern transportation and telecommunications has meant travellers often pass these towns by. The country town with numerous pubs and a thriving local manufacturing base is a thing of the past. The pub today barely gets by, and far mers obtain the things they need online and from afar. Yet these small towns provide a valuable role for the wider rural community. For example, where there are sufﬁcient numbers at the local school, sport provides a basis for families to come together, look out for each other and plan for the future. How local government ﬁts into this arrangement is a challenge for councils across rural and remote Australia. The ongoing beneﬁt of infrastructure THOUGHT LEADERS PROFESSOR JOHN MARTIN DIRECTOR, CENTRE FOR SUSTAINABLE REGIONAL COMMUNITIES, LA TROBE UNIVERSITY The sustainability of Australia's country towns Australia's regional towns have changed dramatically since their establishment as vital outposts for national resource development. Professor John Martin explores the role of local government in safeguarding their future. investment is usually much harder to see. Yet, as the State of the Regions Report 2013 reveals, public infrastructure investment will enable the nation to grow and prosper over the long term. This is where professional engineers and planners can have signiﬁcant, game-changing impacts on the sustainability of country towns. The challenge facing Australian society, and all levels of government, is how to support our country towns, given their role in nation building has fundamentally changed. Well-planned public infrastructure investment involving the community can make a difference here. This is not just investment in roads; it also includes investment in health and educational facilities, such that the community is caring for its own and nurturing the development of the next generation. Other public infrastructure related to amenity, arts and culture is also essential to the liveability and viability of local communities, whether metropolitan or regional. CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION Have your say on this story. Visit http://goo. gl/5xjQaI to comment on this article.
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