UNE takes centre stage on regional solutions for the future

Published 16 February 2011

simon_creanThe University of New England is driving the agenda for regional issues with a Summit being held at the Armidale Campus today.

The Summit, entitled Setting the Agenda for Regional Futures, brings together a host of leading government, policy, economic and social commentators and technical experts to discuss the issues facing regional Australia.

In attendance are the Hon. Simon Crean MP (pictured here), Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, as well as the Hon. Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. Both Ministers will address the Summit to provide details on the future directions and the policy environment for regional communities.

“The Summit aims to identify the opportunities for regional communities in terms of investment, broadband and innovation,” said UNE’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jim Barber. “We want to start a fresh debate on these issues across the entire regional community, and the University can lead this debate.”

“Regions across Australia need to position themselves at the forefront of business, health and education service delivery,” he said. “We are not just observers, we want to work with our community and the government. That’s the message we want to get out there.”

A panel on regional development issues will be chaired by UNE’s Chancellor, Dr Richard Torbay.

“This Summit signifies a milestone in bringing together expertise that can assist in the rejuvenation of regional Australia,” Dr Torbay said. “As community members and participants in Australia’s progress, we need to seize opportunities like this Summit to come up with concrete solutions for the future.”

“The best result from today will be the galvanising of the regional voice, with the relevant Commonwealth representatives on board to hear the determination we have to steer our progress,” he said.

The Regional Development Panel will bring Minister Crean together with some of the relevant stakeholders including:

Mr Tony Windsor MP, Member for New England; Mr Barry Buffier, Deputy Director-General, NSW Industry and Investment; Dr Peter Brain, Executive Director of the National Institute for Economic and Industry Research; Mr Peter Bailey, CEO of the Foundation for Regional Development; Mr Kevin Dupe, CEO of the New England Community Mutual; Mr Hugh Eastwood, Managing Director of the Eastmon Group.

Minister Conroy will sit on a panel of experts discussing the infrastructure, investment and technological opportunities surrounding the roll out of broadband technology. The speakers and panelists will include:

Mr Jim Hassell, Head of Product Development and Sales, NBNCo; Professor Mary O’Kane, NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer; Dr Alex Zelinsky, Group Executive of the CSIROs Information Sciences; Professor Annabelle Duncan, UNE Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research; Mr Sean Casey, Applications Adviser for the NBNCo.

They will be joined by delegates and representatives from the community, the University sector, regional business and development authorities, government, and education and health sectors.

“UNE is really pleased to be able to present this calibre of expertise to our delegates and showcase what we are all capable of achieving together,”  Professor Barber said.