Growing Regional Communities, Kim's Blog, Uncategorized

Booms and busts, what does the future hold for Mackay?

Kim Houghton

I’ve been in Mackay again this week, my third visit in about 5 years. And what a great place it is and what an interesting period it has been. Mackay is the regional service centre and port town for the Bowen Basin, an area with large volumes of coking (metallurgical) and thermal (steaming for electricity generation) coal.

Mackay is a standout “muscle town”, a moniker that was coined, I suspect, by well known demographer Bernard Salt, who is very good at finding a catchy name for a demographic phenomenon.

A muscle town is one that has seen rapid growth through a role as regional centre servicing a large mining area. So it is not the mine-site village. It is the ‘big smoke’ a couple of hundred kilometres away which has become the port (often literally) through which a mining region or a mining basin is accessed, and through which a…

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What will decent broadband bring to regional communities?

Kim Houghton

While there is some disagreement between the Labor and Liberal parties in relation to how high speed broadband should be rolled out across Australia, they both agree that they will subsidise this important infrastructure. Both parties have made this promise on the basis that it will give an economic boost to regions, as well as improving the efficiency of service delivery. Is there any evidence for this?

Firstly, better connectivity is a two way street – likely to bring both winners and losers. The ‘high speed’ tag for internet traffic reminds me of road traffic, and I get the sense that digital capacity is bringing the same challenges to local economies that sealed roads did in the 1960s and 1970s. Everybody wants the roads improved, but the improvements inadvertently helped retail and service consolidation in centres and reduced the diversity of small town main streets.

The digital capability jump is…

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