Posted by Michael Knight on Sep 24, 2019
Stuart Heriot was called upon to introduce our Guest Speaker and this was accomplished in a most comprehensive manner. 
We learned that Peter Thompson has qualifications in environmental science and law, including BSc (Hons), Bachelor of Laws, Master of Law, Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice, Diploma of Management, and is an accredited specialist in Local Govt and Planning Law. At this point, Stuart stopped to draw breath!!!! 
Peter spoke first about the concept of Special Activation Precincts, and why they are desirable. Our interstate neighbours have pursued business with streamlined planning and approval systems, while NSW has higher hurdles. The NSW govt will initially identify six areas, and "pre qualify" them for development by completing some environmental impact reports. Parkes was the first selected, Bomen was next, and Peter predicted that Williamtown was likely the third.
Any company looking to develop a factory in Wagga Wagga would benefit through ease of approval, developed infrastructure, and State Govt incentives. All the funding for these projects is provided by the sale of the Snowy Hydro.
Peter then addressed Digital connectivity, and indicated that three areas within Wagga will have spectacular internet speed, Bomen, the CBD and the Health Precinct. A big pipe for data, and quicker than Sydney or Melbourne, was the carrot dangled.
Electrical Transmission was the third leg of the trifecta, with connections to South Australia, Victoria, The Snowy scheme and local generation, both Uranquinty and Solar. Secure, clean power will be attractive to the data warehousing industry.
We were not surprised to learn that Wagga Wagga Council is short of qualified engineering staff. We have 11 engineers at WWCC, but Tamworth, a comparable council has 35 engineers. This provides an explanation why WWCC is setting up an office in Sydney, and is hopeful that new may attract some of our Sydney staff to Wagga in the future. Advertising for Sydney based engineering jobs for the WWCC drew 300 applicants. Nine positions were filled.
Peter commented that the best of the candidates were immediate "you're hired", and there were some " wouldn't trust to put your wheelie bin out."
There were questions on subjects like approval delays, jobs for spouses, and freight and logistics plans. All were earnestly addressed.