Grafton Gaol is in the news lately. And it is well worth noting that if the parts of northern NSW that voted for a new state in 1967 had got their way then Grafton Gaol would be the only gaol they have. That region’s population is over 900,000 or one eighth of the NSW total so their taxes and fees cover 12.5% of the NSW prison system’s budget. But the Newcastle/Sydney/Wollongong government has tried to close the gaol down in the chase for minor savings that will ensure that 12.5% of the prison jobs created by their taxes will no longer be kept in their own region. Indeed, the demographic centre of gravity of “New North Wales” (without the Hunter Valley) would be South Grafton. And Grafton would be the logical place for its new capital as more than 90% of the new state’s population would be less than three hours drive from their own parliament. The evidence is also clear that most capital city wages do not circulate much further than that same three hour drive. For example, Brisbane folk rarely venture further than Byron Bay and Noosa, both of which are actually less than two hours drive from the CBD.
Furthermore, when considering waste and duplication, we need to look at both sides of the ledger. That region’s local members would no longer have to travel to Sydney and rack up expensive accommodation costs, only to sit through endless, wasteful, debate about Sydney’s dysfunctional, cost compounding, diseconomies of scale. With their own parliament most of them will drive to work each day like everyone else and return to their home each night at minimal cost to the public purse. Take a look at https://regionalstates.wordpress.com/2012/01/27/policing-in-new-north-wales/ to see how a local seat of governance operates as a key economic engine in its own right. Folks all over New North Wales all know they couldn’t do a worse job than what is being done now.