Canberra regions could be the big winner from Barnaby’s bush push

Canberra and its surrounding country towns could be big winners from the National Party’s push to force public servants out of big cities, according to the boss of the capital’s airport.
Nanjing Night Net

The Nationals’ radical plans to move swathes of the public service out of the cities and to the country has alarmed some Canberra business groups and local politicians.

But Canberra Airport chief executive Stephen Byron, says the policy being pushed by Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce and his deputy Fiona Nash could be a boost for capital country and he has a cheeky guide to how the decentralisation program can make the most of the Canberra region.

Mr Joyce has been criticised for “pork barrelling” in the most controversial move, that of the pesticides authority to the heart of Mr Joyce’s electorate in northern NSW, and Mr Byron said there were plenty of opportunities for the Coalition to bolster its electoral fortunes, closer the the capital

“If they want a marginal seat campaign, they could put ASIC [Australian Securities and Investment Commission] in Cooma, put the Reserve Bank in Merimbula,” the airport executive told The Canberra Times.

“We could put Infrastructure Australia in Goulburn, they could work on the fast train, we could put the ACCC [Australian Competition and Consumer Commission] in Young and the NBN [National Broadband Network] in Yass.

“ASIC to Cooma would be fantastic, the white collar criminals would be just across the way in the jail.

“The RBA would have a wonderful view of the world from the beaches of merimbula and still be able to shuck those south coast oysters like I doubt they do in the CBD of Sydney.

“For Infrastructure Australia, there’s a logic to them being in Goulburn because they should be getting on with the fast rail.

“The ACCC in Young would be wonderful for Fiona Nash’s constituents and to have the NBN in Yass at a pivotal point between Sydney and Melbourne would be highly appropriate too.”

Mr Byron’s company is landlord to several large government departments and has just landed one of the biggest leasing deals in Commonwealth history with the Immigration Department set to move into the airport’s Brindabella business park and the businessman conceded he had a vested interest in agencies staying in and around the capital.

But Mr Byron said there were serious financial savings and productivity improvements available for agencies moving from Sydney or Melbourne to Canberra or the region

“They would save millions of dollars in rent,” he said.

“The rental in Sydney is anything from $800 to $1000 per square metre, the rental in Canberra is $350 to $400 per square metre,

“My estimate is that the Commonwealth pays about $150 million in rent annually in Sydney and that could be $50 million to $60 million a year in Canberra.

“The wages they have to pay their people in Sydney are inflated because of the high cost of living and housing there.

“The salary savings could be $250 million a year or more.”

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