Democracy in action

Page MP Janelle Saffin and Lismore MP Thomas George.

More than 100 residents attended the 2020 Summit at Southern Cross University in Lismore last Saturday.

Page MP Janelle Saffin said the summit was participatory democracy in action.

People shared their ideas about 10 key challenges facing Australia as identified by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Ms Saffin said these ideas, collated during two hours of intense discussion, would go into a professional report, being prepared by the Northern Rivers Area Consultative Committee.

This Page Report will not be a dead document which gathers dust on a bureaucratic shelf; it will directly feed into Mr Rudds National 2020 Summit in Canberra (to be held on April 19 and 20), Ms Saffin said. Because the report will reflect the specific concerns and aspirations of the Richmond and Clarence valley communities, it will be a working document that the Government and those involved in planning for regional development will refer to in the years to come.

My intention is to hold summits each year to check on progress in the northern and southern ends of the electorate.

For too long, we have taken rural and regional Australia for granted, treating it as one huge mine or food bowl. Our capital cities have prospered while some regions have missed out in the deal.

If we can harness the combined potential of regions like the Northern Rivers economically, socially and in an environmentally sustainable way, then we can develop a new engine that fixes Australia, city and country, in this century.

Southern Cross University Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Clark co-chaired the northern end summit with Ms Saffin at Campus Central on SCUs Lismore Campus last Saturday morning.

More than 90 academics and students, community leaders, politicians and members of the public were hosted by SCUs Executive Director Corporate Services Mr Malcolm Marshall.

One of the participants was Frances Shapter, who has been chosen as one of the 1000 best and brightest minds headed for the national summit. Ms Shapter is an associate research fellow at SCUs Centre for Plant Conservation Genetics.

Facilitators included Ros Derrett, Kath Fisher, Nadine Hood, Rose Wright and Ken McLeod.

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