Murrumbidgee Irrigation’s staff consolidation means Leeton is now on the path many before it have taken.
While the reasons and fallout of the process remain hazy there’s no doubt the decision would have come after considerable debate surrounding the same issues facing most regional government and private organisations and departments.
The global economic climate is making it harder to become or maintain a status as a successful and financially stable body.
Not just for the big government agencies centralising services – think motor registration sites, hospitals etc – but for big business and public organisations.
No one’s blaming MI specifically for what’s become an institutionalised issue, but the organisation’s efforts to remain financially relevant has seen directors come to the same conclusion.
Is it better to have strong and consistent representation across the region it serves, where showing face and providing easy access builds a stronger bond with the community?
Or does the company value a strong financial position, where its services can remain available into the future?
It’s never as black and white as choosing between community and cash.
Whatever the ultimate leaning, groups like MI are always going to face some sort of pain.
The biggest issue for MI and every other service, business and organisation serving regional areas at the moment is an inability to find the balance.
These groups can survive with a no frills, low commitment-high financial reward model.
But if there’s one issue regional residents won’t stand for, it’s a sub-par service providing sub-par results.
For so long regional areas have been blessed with the best operating groups, the best services, the most successful businesses, because results and quotas were based on per capita statistics.
Today operating in the bush is hamstrung by the country’s sheer size impacting efficiency.
Let’s hope the current day consolidation trend swings away from a healthy bottom line and back towards a preference for quality outcomes.
No one knows how long regional cities will survive if they keep seeing downgrades, relocations and consolidation.