Bathurst-Orange Development Corporation (1974-1992)
DECENTRALISATION POLICY AND THE BODC
The establishment and expansion of industry in regional NSW was a major activity in the implementation of the early 1970's State and Federal government's push towards decentralisation. This socio-political imperative directed the decision to establish Bathurst-Orange as the State’s first pilot growth centre on 3 October 1972.
In addition to the cities of Bathurst and Orange, target centres for decentralised growth encompassed areas within the Shires of Blayney, Cabonne, Evans and Oberon. The stated mission was to generate and stimulate domestic, commercial and industrial development across this regional focal-zone (the "growth centre"). The Bathurst-Orange Development Corporation was constituted as a statutory body under the Growth Centres (Development Corporations) Act 1974, effective from 1 July 1974, enabling it to take responsibility for proposed developments. Joint funding by the NSW and Federal Governments initially capitalised the Corporation.
The Growth Centres (Development Corporations) Act (No. 49, 1974) vested in the Bathurst-Orange Development Corporation the responsibility of promoting, co-ordinating, managing and securing the orderly and economic development of the growth centre in respect of which it was constituted. However, acquisition of land by the Corporation was conducted under the terms of the Growth Centres (Land Acquisition) Act, 1974. It was under this legislation that the vast tract of land - bound by frontline housing along Franklin, Gardener and Cecil Roads, and Hill Street - was obtained and developed by the BODC to accommodate "decentralised" employees and business people arriving in Orange from Sydney.
The Corporation was established to develop the area economically, including raising new capital investment to bring population and new employment opportunities to the region. Its functions included land acquisition, management and disposal; property construction and management; financial management; and the promotion and marketing of the Bathurst-Orange area. The legislation charged the Corporation with the authority to submit development proposals to the Minister; research, report, advise and make recommendations to the Minister in relation to land development; and to deal with other statutory bodies involved with the growth centre.
The legislation provided for a statutory structure of five or more persons to be officially appointed with the Chairman and Deputy Chairman being entitled to five-year terms, while other members served for three years. The administrative structure of the Corporation reflected its activities: survey and land management; public relations; technical services; legal services; research
services; and, finance and administration.
Agency activities were complex, including liaison with government bodies and instrumentalities, the private sector, the media and community groups.
Multi-disciplinary teams from the private and public sectors were formed to contribute to development proposals. Working papers were developed to foster public participation in matters involving research into community needs and preferences, such as water supply issues, waste disposal needs, road building, park planning, pedestrian and bicycle routes.
BODC OFFICIAL STATE ARCHIVES
Find a comprehensive collection of documents, facts and important dates pertaining to the Bathurst-Orange Development Corporation at NSW State Records Archives.
BODC ANNUAL REPORTS
References to the Annual Reports of the Bathurst-Orange Development Corporation (1974-1992) are indexed in archives at the National Library of Australia.
POLITICAL HISTORY OF REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Regional development has had a fluctuating policy profile, often depending upon the priorities of the political party in power. Variations in economic activity have also had an influence on the prominence of the policy.
Early regional development was driven by agribusiness, resources extraction, and related services and manufacturing industries.
As World War II was drawing to a close in the 1940's, and unemployment was almost non-existent at 2.5% due to war production on the home-front and military serving offshore, the Labor government of prime minister John Curtin and deputy Ben Chifley was already making plans for high employment to continue and standards of living to rise for all Australians after the war. Orange was a target area for regional development from the start.
Federal government focus on regional development continued until the early 1950s, when withdrawal of Federal support somewhat starved the initiative, at least temporarily, following a change in Federal Government away from the Labor movement.
It wasn't until the advent of the Whitlam government in 1972, after a 23-year break in power for the Labor party, that regional development again became a pressing issue on the national agenda.
The Whitlam government's support for regional development was prudent and timely, in that Britain's entry into the EEC (European Economic Community) in 1973 helped cause a decline in agricultural demand, and this combined into a double-whammy of economic pressure when the international recession of the mid-1970s caused regional manufacturing industries to go into decline, the loss of jobs and business opportunities causing a domino-effect exodus to cities.
By the late 1970s, and after the recession of 1980-1982, Federal government support for regional development had all but evaporated. The Wran government kept regional development in focus for the State of NSW. In 1987 Neville Wran was appointed an Officer in the Order of the Golden Ark (Netherlands) "for his contribution to the environment". However, a switch to the Liberal government of Nick Greiner in 1988 meant another retreat from regional development for NSW at State level. When Nick Greiner resigned in 1992 due to involvement in an ICAAC investigation, the government of John Fahey broke from State Liberal tradition and revived regional development.
Federal commitment to regional development was re-established under the Keating government from 1991 onwards.
By the mid-1990s, State and Federal pathways towards regional development had become divergent. But by the late 1990s, against a background of rural and regional discontent, Federal and State policies for regional development were realigned.
Read the entire report "Regional Development Outside Sydney" by John Wilkinson © 2003 in the NSW Parliamentary Library online.
"GROWTH AREA" STATUS ABANDONED
In 1983 the NSW State government abolished the status of the Bathurst-Orange district as a targeted "growth area" after a 9-year program had invested more than $49 million in loaned funds. Much had been spent on extensive land acquisitions between Orange and Bathurst - particularly in the Vittoria area, a mere signpost by the highway today, but which was once targeted for development as an inland city between Bathurst and Orange, bridging development of infrastructure and employment opportunities between the two.