A regional agency director has said he is not convinced the New South Wales government’s revamped regional grants will succeed in encouraging city-based residents to relocate to regional centres.
Director of Bathurst Real Estate Michael Whittaker said a similar grant had been launched in 2010 but struggled to achieve the desired result.
“It wasn’t taken up by a lot of people looking to relocate, and the ones who did relocate didn’t actually realise there was a grant in place, so they weren’t moving here because of the grant,” he said.
Under the new changes that came into effect last Wednesday, the $7,000 Regional Relocation Grant is now available to long-term renters in metropolitan Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong.
In addition, the state government has launched its Skilled Regional Relocation Incentive of $10,000, which aims to encourage people to relocate for jobs unfilled in regional workforces.
Mr Whittaker does not believe there are enough jobs in regional centres to encourage large numbers of people to move.
“If you look not just at regional areas but at city areas, we’re seeing unemployment rise gradually,” he said. “It’s one thing to encourage people to come to regional areas, but we need somewhere for them to work.”
Mr Whittaker said a suggestion would be to move government departments to regional areas to boost employment opportunities. However, a core issue was that metropolitan residents enjoyed the city lifestyle.
“They’re very entrenched in their lifestyle, they’re very entrenched in their neighbourhood. Sure, they would like it to be not as busy and not as much hustle and bustle, but a lot of them have good jobs that are well paid and their families are down there,” he said.
He added that the changes in the grants were more a way for the government to show it was taking action to encourage people to move to regional areas.