A leading Wagga businessman has accused the city’s political leaders of failing to attract new government investment.
Fitzpatricks Real Estate director Richard Fitzpatrick questioned what efforts were being made to grow Wagga’s employment base, while marketing programs such as Evocities – designed to attract new families to Wagga from big cities – pressed full steam ahead.
Mr Fitzpatrick fired a direct line of questioning aimed at Riverina MP Michael McCormack and Wagga MP Daryl Maguire.
“Are you working on it? Are you doing your best to get government departments here?” he said.
Population statistics show the city grew by 1 per cent last year, a figure deemed insufficient by the powerful Committee 4 Wagga lobby group.
Mr Fitzpatrick said attracting new government departments to the city was “essential” to supercharging population growth.
“Decentralisation was once a dirty word. It’s not anymore. It's essential," he said.
Wagga mayor Rod Kendall maintained Evocities was working, but said there was "no doubt” more needed to be done to attract new government investment.
"I absolutely agree that state and federal governments need to do more,” he said. "There is no doubt."
A Senate inquiry will later this year examine what is needed to encourage city people to move to the regions.
“The exact reason why we agreed to move from Melbourne was because it was just too expensive,” Wagga’s Sophie Walsh said.
“Nearly every cent we made was being taken up by bills. There wasn’t much to go around.
“Here we have a beautiful home, we’ve set up a business and we couldn’t be happier.”
Councillor Kendall said stories like the Walsh’s was the kind of “anecdotal” evidence that proved Evocities was an effective program.
He added while it might not be a recognisable brand to Wagga people, city people were well-aware of it.
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