Future Food Systems CRC, Media Release, 6 April 2021
At a Tamworth press conference on Wednesday 7 April 2021, The Hon Kevin Anderson, Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation and Member for Tamworth, announced that NSW’s Namoi region will be the state’s fourth Regional Jobs Precinct.
Regional Jobs Precincts are an extension of the NSW Government Department of Planning‘s Special Activation Precinct program. Designating the Namoi an RJP ensures planning support and funding to fast-track the economic development approvals required to drive growth, investment and development in the region.
“Today’s recognition that the Namoi region of NSW is one of the most productive regions in regional NSW reinforces the strength and commitment of our Councils to growing the economy and jobs,” Councillor Jamie Chaffey, Chairperson of Namoi Unlimited and Mayor of Gunnedah Shire Council, said.
“Working with the NSW Government and the Future Food Systems CRC, this project will position the region as the prime location for the development of agriculture, particularly beef, lamb and poultry.
“Food security and regional manufacturing of food is a priority for the NSW Government and the Australian Government,” Cr Chaffey said. “We want to grow our region on the back of agricultural innovation and regional food manufacturing.
“To do that, we need a planning framework that is responsive to agricultural development, and we as Councils are responsible for implementing the NSW planning framework and facilitating development.
Cr Chaffey acknowledged that “there are some issues – not only in our region but across regional NSW – that need to be addressed”, citing conflict over land and its use, and the need to protect prime agricultural land.
“We want to be able to develop agricultur[e] where the natural resources, the transport and utility network, and the regulatory frameworks support agricultural development,” he added.
Fiona Simson, Chair of the Future Food Systems Cooperative Research Centre, said: “The CRC and its partners, UNSW and UNE, welcome the opportunity to work with the Namoi Unlimited and NSW Government to deliver the coordinated research and planning solutions needed to accelerate investment, sustainable development and job creation across the region.
“This initiative is a gold standard for collaboration across government, industry and research and a great example of the innovative thinking needed across Australia to boost regional industry.
“Namoi farmers produce world-class raw materials – the next leap in economic growth for the region entails value-adding more of these goods locally. Researchers in the CRC group are expert in the advanced technology and systems required to enable cost-efficient and sustainable manufacture of premium, finished food goods,” Simson said.
Work on developing the Namoi as a Regional Jobs Precinct will commence immediately, with a meeting of NSW Government agencies, the Future Food Systems CRC and Councils scheduled to identify gaps in and barriers to economic growth in the local planning system.
An agrifood super-cluster in the Namoi
The announcement of the new project is part of a long campaign by the Namoi Unlimited group of Councils to have the region recognised as a ‘super-cluster’.
Super-clusters are collaborating entities, including industry, research, government and community bodies, aggregated within a geographic area and with a specific focus – which might be food and agriculture, automotive production or furniture design. Such clusters are developing around the world.
The purpose of developing a super-cluster in the Namoi is to expand the participating communities’ focus on collaboration, food supply, advanced manufacturing and supply chains.
“This declaration provides the expertise and access to funding that will enable the five member Councils of Namoi Unlimited to work closely with the NSW Government to build confidence, investment and growth in our region”, Cr Chaffey said.
Two of Future Food Systems CRC’s research partners, the University of New South Wales, Sydney (UNSW) and University of New England (UNE), will collaborate with the five Namoi councils and NSW Government on the project. Together, they will undertake the consultation, analyses and visualisation required to enable the development of a smart, sustainable Regional Jobs Precinct plan for the region.
“The University of New England is committed to delivering research that drives resilient regional communities,” said Heiko Daniel, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) at UNE. “Our deep expertise across all aspects of environmental and rural science, combined with this powerful collaboration with industry and Government, will support solutions that deliver sustainable impact for the Namoi.
“This initiative is both timely and crucial to achieving the full potential of the Namoi region,” Professor Daniel said.
UNSW is also looking forward to contributing to the region’s development.
“The Namoi region has immense potential for high-value industry in agribusiness sectors,” said Sven Rogge, Scientia Professor and UNSW Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research). “UNSW looks forward to bringing its expertise in planning, manufacturing and economics to the initiative.”
About Namoi Unlimited
Namoi Unlimited is a Joint Organisation (JO) of Councils in New South Wales. The five councils in the Namoi JO are:
Gunnedah Shire Council;
Gwydir Shire Council;
Liverpool Plains Shire Council;
Tamworth Regional Council; and
A Joint Organisation is a voluntary function of Councils that enables them to collaborate, plan, set priorities and deliver important projects in regional NSW. The region covered by the Namoi JO includes some of Australia’s most valuable and productive farmland. Its five member Councils collaborate to deliver ambitious projects and priorities for their regional communities.
About NSW’s Regional Jobs Precincts
The Namoi is the final precinct to be announced in the state government’s initial group of Regional Jobs Precincts. The first three RJPs designated in the NSW Governments initial round are:
Albury: the Albury Regional Jobs Precinct will build on the NEXUS Industrial Precinct, a 450-hectare site just north of Albury’s CBD in the Riverina-Murray region, an intermodal hub that will support large or heavy industrial development across a range of sectors including freight and logistics, agribusiness and manufacturing;
Richmond Valley: the second RJP to be announced, this precinct will leverage opportunities and strengths in Richmond Valley’s existing industries of agriculture, manufacturing and renewable energy; and
South Jerrabomberra: the third RJP will leverage opportunities and investment within the Poplars Innovation Precinct adjacent to Queanbeyan suburb Jerrabomberra, near Canberra, now offering innovative firms space in its 35-hectare business park. The Precinct’s focus is on the defence, space, cybersecurity and high-tech manufacturing sectors, as well as IT and scientific research.