City Redevelopment Will Lead to More Jobs

THE discussion and debate regarding revitalisation in Newcastle, including the new transport infrastructure, has reached what economists call the point of negative utility. To continue with silly, hysterical, position-based arguing is now doing the community more harm than good, regardless of your point of view.

In a recent letter to the Herald (‘‘The tracks are all that’s left’’, 5/1/15), Margaret Henry claimed that ‘‘parts of the city have been turned into a war zone’’, and that developers somehow profited at the community’s expense after the earthquake. Both statements are pretty offensive, and obviously misleading.

Ms Henry’s further claim that there is half a billion dollars in government money available to developers is equally fanciful. If any government spends money on infrastructure, it is not credible to claim that this money is somehow ‘‘available’’ to any group in society.

When governments spend money (rightly) on hospitals, does Ms Henry say this is handing billions to wealthy doctors? Or if money is spent on schools, does she shriek that it is a gift to teachers? Of course not, because people would rightly think that was silly. Her attempts to convince people that the government’s investment in urban renewal in Newcastle is a handout to developers is equally silly, and apparently just an attempt to get political mileage out of something that doesn’t align with her personal ideology of saying ‘‘no’’ to things.

All of the redevelopment in Newcastle (and throughout the Lower Hunter) provides something this region will need desperately in 2015: jobs. Employment - now, not in 10 years. All of the builders, construction firms, suppliers, and professional services firms need all of these projects to keep people in jobs, and to actually realise the economic prosperity these projects represent. Anyone in these industries should be doing everything they can to keep the momentum going in Newcastle.

Any parent wondering where their children might find work in the region should also be saying an enthusiastic ‘‘yes’’ to redevelopment. The redeveloped Surfhouse now employs about 100 people, part-time or full-time, not counting the construction workers. The old surf house employed none.

How many jobs is the redevelopment of Newcastle creating? How many new jobs will be created in the longer term? I’m guessing thousands. The property sector provides 1 in 10 jobs in NSW, and (as a sector) is the single biggest taxpayer, and contributes $44.5billion directly to gross state product.

Has the government done everything perfectly? Of course not – no government (Liberal or Labor) ever does, unfortunately. Does that justify the unacceptable – and childish – language and tactics now being used in the debate? No, of course not.

Edward Crawford is chairman of Property Council of Australia Hunter chapter