• Loddon Herald

Seize moment for tomorrow

By CR WENDY MURPHY


IN the past 18 months the word ‘normal’ has become a key word in our vocabulary.

Terms such as ‘the new normal’ and ‘return to normal’. How many of us just want things to go back to pre-COVID ‘normal’?

But is returning to ‘normal’ wise? Is returning to ‘normal’ just putting yourself back in the same risk again? Is it better to stay one step ahead of ‘normal’? And what even is ‘normal’?

COVID has seen over 10,000 people move from Melbourne to regional Victoria. With this shift we have seen some positives and challenges in Loddon.

Regional house prices have doubled and rent prices have tripled. Loddon house sales have been great. Houses have sold soon after being listed, some even selling before being listed.

The good outcome is new people moving to towns, but a downside is young locals being priced out of purchasing their own home in their home town meaning they must stay renting (if rentals are available) or move away.

Regional people are wanting to stay in the regions. The Demographic Destiny report by The Demographics Group shows Loddon Shire having a 54 per cent increase in professional, scientific and technical service providers and a 19 per cent increase in construction providers between 2017 and 2020. There was a 10 per cent increase of owner/managers.

So do we go back to ‘normal’ and back to sub-standard internet connection, limited land for residential and industrial growth and basic services or do we get on the front foot, lead the way and be the preferred destination for these professions and others?

Is it more important to say ‘build it and they will come’ or ‘build it and they will stay’? Are both as equal as each other?

There is a lot of history in Loddon. Many notable and successful people have come from Loddon communities. For example, both Sir Reginald Ansett and Maurice Blackburn were born in Inglewood. But they are ‘has beens’.

We need to promote the ‘haves now’ to our younger residents. Show them that you can make a living by starting your own business in Loddon. Show them they have the education opportunities to do what they want.

Show them they have somewhere to build their business. Show them they have reliable internet connection to run their business. Show them they have services that will assist them to stay in their local towns. It’s not always easy with difficult decisions needing to be made.

To improve or provide a new service may require reducing or abolishing another service.

Loddon Shire can advocate for residents, but they can’t do it all.

A good current example is child care. Loddon Shire has developed a business plan and feasibility study, but child care is a mix of federal and state government service.

Loddon Shire can advocate for the community, but need the community to back up the advocacy and make noise so the state and federal politicians hear.

The most important asset Loddon can have is the unity of the community with support of their ‘leaders’.

Communication is key to achieving this. Being willing to listen and to take the setbacks is important, but so is being willing to offer a solution to a problem rather than laying blame.

Talk to your councillors, talk to the council officers, talk to each other.

We all need to be on the same page to be one step ahead of ‘normal’.

* Cr Murphy is the Inglewood Ward councillor on Loddon Shire Council.



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