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Push to decentralise.

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Thursday 21 October 1920, The Sydney Morning Herald


Alarmed at the flow of people from the country back to the city, the country Press proposes to launch an aggressive and widespread campaign to try to stem the tide, and to encourage the vigorous settlement of the country.

Its course of action is indicated in the following motion, which was moved by Mr. J. J. Sullivan (Cowra) at the Country Press Conference yesterday, and which was carried unanimously after it had been warmly supported by many speakers:—”That in view of the abnormal growth of the city and suburbs and the proportional decrease in the rural population, this conference declares for a united and sustained campaign by the country Press for decentralisation and the improvement of conditions in the country parts of the State; and that the executive of the association be requested to formulate a plan of campaign to carry this motion into effect.”

Mr. Sullivan said it was the startling report by the Select Committee of the Legislative Council inquiring into the conditions and prospects of the agricultural industry which had prompted him to bring the matter forward. Mr. Sullivan, quoting from the report, stated that 19 years ago 35.7 per cent, of the State population was in the metropolitan area; now 41.5 per cent, was in that area. He quoted further from the report as follows: “In the municipalities and small towns figures for the same period show 33.6 per cent, in 1901, now they reach 36.4 per cent. On the other hand, 30.7 per cent, of our population inhabited the rural districts in 1901; and to-day the proportion has declined to 22.1 per cent.”

Mr. Jas. Ryan. M.L.C., was plain-spoken. “If we trust the politicians we will never reach any thing definite,” he said. “We must, on our own part, do our utmost to create a strong, virile, and active public opinion on this big question of the development of the interior.” Mr. Ryan referred to the important part that hydro-electric schemes would play in the development of the interior, and urged also the establishment in suitable towns of industries such as woollen mills. Speaking of good roads, he said that in America, from east to west, good roads had become a union question, a State question, a municipal question. All the energies of the authorities were concentrated on good roads, on which they were spending millions and millions not merely millions In dollars, but millions of pounds. They should urge, too, the extension through the country districts of the telephonic system. He would like to see a “boosting association” in every Australian town, with the local newspaper editor as the chief booster.” (Laughter and applause.)

The new State movement was referred to by Mr. Sommerlad (Glen Innes), who said no portion of the State had suffered so much from isolation as the North had done. They had tried to have their grievances redressed, but without success. They had now in sheer desperation launched a new State movement. They did not want to raise the city v country cry. What they did object to was that, in addition to being the commercial capital of Australia, Sydney was becoming the political capital. “We are the storm centre for many smaller decentralising movements,” he added.

“The bulk of the country journalists,” said one speaker, “are advocating decentralisation, yet we always meet in Sydney. (Laughter.) It is the same with other bodies.

Written by macalba

April 2, 2010 at 8:04 pm

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