Opinion

Retirees and migrants offer population solutions

By Deniliquin Pastoral Times

There is an ever-increasing community debate across our nation around population and immigration policy.

Its importance was highlighted again when new Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently appointed Alan Tudge to a population ministry.

Additionally, Mr Morrison has announced his government is considering a plan that would require new migrants to settle outside of Sydney or Melbourne for up to five years.

Fortunately, it seems the time has arrived where there is a realisation that while these capital cities have immense growing pains despite the billions being spent on infrastructure, at the same time we have regional areas that would welcome a population influx. Deniliquin is one of these.

For those of us who enjoy the Riverina lifestyle, it is difficult to understand why more people do not avail themselves of what is on offer.

Job opportunities has an impact, though with improving technology including the recent NBN roll-out, for many this is becoming less of an issue.

We are also seeing more people employed in a range of health and welfare services, catering for the ageing population. No doubt this will continue, with the growth supported by those looking for a ‘tree change’ in retirement.

While migration programs have merit, it is perhaps the retirees who present the greatest opportunity for our region.

Provided we maintain the health and welfare services, Deniliquin should continue to be an attractive choice for many people in their retirement years.

We have a pleasant climate (despite some chilly winter days) and a flat terrain that is conducive to ease of getting around.

Importantly, our town boasts outstanding recreation facilities for seniors with a host of organisations to keep them engaged and active.

What is presently lacking is getting the message across to those living in congested cities — whether they are old or young — that there are significant lifestyle advantages offered by rural towns like ours.

So perhaps along with the billions being invested to make this congestion more bearable, governments could look at promoting the rural lifestyle and actively encouraging a move to the country.

This could be in the form of incentives for migrants, retirees or any other segment of the population. There is no need to discriminate.

It seems a logical solution if you have metropolitan areas struggling to cope with a burgeoning population, and many country towns crying out for more people.

It will be interesting to see if governments are able to identify the logic and put effective programs in place.