The numbers clearly show that the drought which has been ravaging regional NSW is the worst since records began in the 19th century and it is past time that our ‘city cousins’ and policy-makers understood the unfolding crisis, according to chair of Regional Development Australia Northern Inland, Russell Stewart.

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“Our researchers have utilised innovative economic modelling to paint a clear picture of the economic, environmental and community impacts of the ongoing drought in Northern NSW,” he said.

“They then overlaid that picture with one of Sydney to illustrate how the city would be suffering if the locales were reversed”.

“The economic impacts experienced in eastern Australia through extended drought conditions have been beyond the imagination of city residents, until now.”

Economic development specialists like RDANI, use the economic analysis and data tool REMPLAN for developing economic impact statements, business cases and other evidence-based projections.

Senior RDANI Research Economist David Thompson has turned the REMPLAN tool on its head and used it to gauge the economic impact of the drought, producing shocking comparisons that can help our city cousins fully appreciate the challenging circumstances being faced by regional communities.

“REMPLAN can be used to measure the negative impacts of drought on a regional economy, though we have typically used it to measure the positive impacts of proposed investments. NSW Business Chamber surveys have indicated the drought in our region has reduced business’ turnover by as much as 33%.

“We modelled a 25% reduction in agricultural business turnover, which leads to 4,178 job losses across the Northern Inland NSW economy”, Mr. Thompson said.

“To bring the picture into focus for those in the city, we were able to map the equivalent economic downturn, if it was to occur in Sydney.

“This reveals 4,178 jobs lost in our region is 5.8% of the workforce.

“The equivalent impact in Sydney would be 130,000 job losses, or 100% of jobs lost in each of the 11 suburbs shown in red on the map, namely Avalon Beach, Bankstown, Baulkham Hills, Blacktown, Chatswood, Cronulla, Maroubra, Minto, Moorebank, Penrith and Strathfield.”

Narrabri-based RDANI chair Russell Stewart, has called on Sydneysiders to better understand the catastrophic impact of the ongoing drought, not just for the farmers, but for each and every small business in our towns and cities that rely on the broader farming sector’s spending for their survival

“Our regional communities need economic stimulus” he said.