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Coast MP Lucy Wicks with PM Scott Morrison in a recent visit to the coast. Coast MP Lucy Wicks with PM Scott Morrison in a recent visit to the coast. Featured
23 August 2021 Posted by 

WE STAND ALONE!

Coast reclassified as a REGION
DALLAS SHERRINGHAM
“We are a region!” That is the overwhelming outcry on the Central Coast which struggled under the burden of being lumped into ‘Greater Sydney’ during the Covid-19 lockdowns.
The concept of a stand-alone Central Coast region has struggled to gain acceptance for generations of “Coasties” who don’t want the Coast to be seen as a part of Sydney or Newcastle, but it took the onset of the Covid-19 for it all to change.
 
The NSW Government has now re-classified the Central Coast region in the Public Health Orders.
 
Decisions about Covid-19 rules in the Central Coast local government area will now be consistent with the remainder of regional NSW and separate to Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains and Wollongong.
 
Terrigal MP and Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast Adam Crouch announced the change late last week. 
 
“Being treated separately to Greater Sydney improves our region’s chances of coming out of lockdown earlier,” he said. 
 
It is the first step in getting the Coast recognised as a stand-alone region in the eyes of the Government and a public service.
 
While political factions battle to disassemble the disgraced Central Coast Council and revert to the old separate Gosford and Wyong councils, the public stood firm in demanding the Coast be recognised as a region in its own right.
 
The Central Coast has traditionally been lumped in with Sydney and the Hunter in vital Government departments such as the Health Department and regional planning and investment. It was included in ‘Greater Sydney’ right from the outset of the pandemic lockdown which meant Coast residents were banned from leaving the region.
 
They were consequently also banned from entering Queensland which effectively wrecked the travel plans of thousands of locals.
 
Social media lit up with complaints about the Coast being lumped in with hotspots like Western Sydney and Bondi. The Coast has suffered relatively few cases compared to Sydney.
 
Businesses were also angry, losing millions of dollars because of the lockdown.
 
Leading the charge was Federal Member for Robertson Lucy Wicks who launched a petition calling for the Central Coast be recognised as a stand-alone region with Gosford as the capital city.
 
It drew 13,500 signatures and Ms Wicks wrote to the Premier and Federal Government demanding that the Coast be officially recognised.
 
She said  she strongly supported the NSW Government’s decision to prioritise lives and keep people safe in Covid-19.
 
“At the same time, the lockdown has also brought to the surface the longstanding challenges associated with our region being linked with Greater Sydney or other regions by government bureaucracy.”
 
“I requested the NSW Government investigate the impacts of the various classifications of the Coast at a state level and expressed how residents want a clear and consistent classification of the Central Coast as a stand-alone region with Gosford as its capital city.”
 
We get skewed outcomes
 
Ms Wicks said by being linked with other regions such as the Hunter, “we get some really skewed outcomes as to who we are as a region and what we need to grow”.
 
“Levels of bureaucratic red tape have meant that all the different definitions and classifications of the Coast we are missing out on the kinds of government investments and funding that you see in stand-alone regions like Newcastle or Western Sydney.”
 
“During the lockdown there has been considerable confusion over whether the Central Coast is classified as part of Greater Sydney, or as regional NSW,” Ms Wicks said
 
“This is a huge win for around 13,500 local residents who signed our petition to make the Central Coast a stand-alone region with Gosford as our capital city. 
 
“It’s way past time that the Coast was recognised consistently as its own stand-alone region government departments, including for services, government grants and infrastructure funding.
 
“This is an important step towards being declared as a stand-alone region within our own right and great news for the Central Coast.” 
 
Leading businessman and Central Coast councillor Bruce McLachlan is a strong advocate of a united, standalone Coast.
 
“In many State and Federal Departments, the Coast was - and I suspect still is - being classified as either Northern Sydney or The Hunter. So, government department expenditure in, say, Hornsby or Maitland, is ticked off as expenditure on the Coast.
 
“The merger of the two councils into the new regional council was to help drive recognition and a united local effort in obtaining grants. Unfortunately, an improved and prosperous Central Coast is not in the interest of those that benefit from a high welfare vote and have deliberately impeded the Council merger process, seeking to maintain the status quo and hold the Coast back.”
 
Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast and Member for Terrigal Adam Crouch said the Coast’s identity as a stand-alone region with Gosford as capital had been enshrined in law since 2020.
 
He said all agencies and departments of the NSW Government now formally recognised the Central Coast as a stand-alone region.
 
“I’ve worked hard to ensure our region receives and retains its own local Health District, Rural Fire Service, Police, Education departments plus Planning, Industry and Environment departments.”
 
“Central Coast Council is already reaping the rewards of our regional status, having received tens of millions of dollars of grant funding that is not available to like Newcastle and Wollongong.”
 
Minister for Planning Rob Stokes agreed, saying the Central Coast region was its own region, separate from the Greater Sydney or Hunter regions.
 
He said to support the region’s future, the NSW Government would soon be releasing a ‘first-of-its-kind’ Central Coast Strategy and his department was currently developing a new Central Coast Regional Plan.
 
 
 
 


editor

Publisher
Michael Walls
michael@accessnews.com.au
0407 783 413

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