The Riverina Murray is a prosperous region. Its premium agricultural land allows for a highly diversified economy. Irrigated agriculture remains significant, particularly in the west of the region.
Changing technologies and new innovations present opportunities for even greater diversification. Connections to gateways in both Victoria and NSW will also benefit exports.
Booming regional cities, and other supporting centres, welcome new residents and workers who move to the area to take advantage of its economic potential.
Planning for different employment land
From a land use planning perspective, the Riverina Murray is a pattern of economic assets and land uses. Major freight routes include the Inland Rail and the Hume, Newell, Sturt and Cobb highways. The focus on regional health and education precincts is creating opportunities for knowledge jobs.
New areas such as the Wagga Wagga Special Activation Precinct (SAP), Albury Regional Job Precinct (RJP), and a potential renewable energy zone (REZ) require integrated land use and infrastructure planning.
The region’s success is built on the foundation of productive rural land. This land is used for agricultural production, employment, renewable energy production, extractive industries, forestry, visitor and cultural uses, recreation and conservation.
The Riverina Murray is a place of genuine economic diversity:
- The western plains are home to irrigation districts that produce cotton, rice, nuts and fruit.
- Timber plantations and mills dot the landscapes around Tumut and Tumbarumba.
- The Cowal Gold Mine, north of West Wyalong, employs nearly 400 people.
- More than 8,000 people work in retail in in the regional cities.
The region connects major freight corridors between Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Businesses in the region can access freight air and/or sea ports at Canberra, Sydney, Wollongong and Melbourne.
These freight connections require dedicated land for industrial uses and logistics, in the right places. These areas range from expansive industrial areas in Griffith and Deniliquin, for example, to the dedicated SAP at Wagga Wagga and WR Connect, an intermodal freight, manufacturing and agribusiness hub that straddles Leeton and Griffith LGAs.
The region can support efficient supply chains and logistics operations while also supporting the transition to cleaner fuels and increasing demand for e-commerce. This includes the incorporation of new technologies to support freight and logistics, and the potential for greater movements in and out of airports in Albury, Griffith, Wagga Wagga and Narrandera-Leeton.
Key regional transport projects
Inland Rail will connect Melbourne and Brisbane via regional Victoria, NSW and Queensland, and will pass through Wagga Wagga SAP and Albury RJP.
The Newell Highway Program Alliance will add around 40 overtaking lanes, widened shoulders and centrelines and audio-tactile line marking to improve safety and reduce travel times between the Victorian and Queensland borders.
Major Murray River crossing projects include the second Echuca-Moama Bridge, Barham-Koondrook and Tooleybuc Bridge restorations and plans for the Swan Hill Bridge replacement. These projects will address heavy vehicle access.
Riverina Intermodal Freight and Logistics Hub is an inland port adjacent the Main Southern Rail Line and the future Inland Rail in Wagga Wagga SAP. It will require appropriately located and serviced employment land.
Faster rail from Sydney to Canberra as well as Melbourne to Albury-Wodonga could expand workforces and markets.
The regional plan aims to leverage these different land uses to balance the needs of the economy and the environment. Strategies encourage the identification and management of rural lands through rural land strategies, and similar approaches to industrial land that support sustainable decisions early in the planning and development process.
Read objective 12 (PDF, 14.1 MB), objective 14 (PDF, 14.1 MB) and objective 18 (PDF, 14.1 MB) of the regional plan to learn more.
Investing in a diversity of industry
The region has a pattern of innovative productive land uses that is ready for new investment in a diversity of industries.
Catalyst projects such as the Wagga Wagga SAP, Albury RJP, Inland Rail, South West REZ and multiple Murray River bridge projects are capitalising on the Riverina Murray’s agricultural assets and opportunities for new technology as Australia moves towards a net zero future.
The Riverina Murray’s climate, resources and connections to utility infrastructure will contribute to the target to reach net zero emissions state by 2050. Already we’ve seen large-scale solar farms accounting for more than 50% of major projects in recent years.
Net zero and the Riverina Murray
The South West REZ will connect multiple generators and storage in one location, capitalising on economies of scale to deliver cheap, reliable and clean electricity.
EnergyConnect, an interconnector being built by Transgrid and ElectraNet between Wagga Wagga and Robertstown in South Australia, with a connection to Red Cliffs in Victoria will upgrade the 33kV transmission line to 500kV between Wagga Wagga and Dinawan to unlock additional transmission capacity.
Snowy Hydro 2.0 is the largest committed renewable energy project in Australia that will create electricity when demand is high.
The Hume Highway Hydrogen initiative between Melbourne and Sydney will accelerate the development of a renewable hydrogen economy for use by the heavy transport sector along Australia's busiest freight corridor.
The regional plan also establishes strategies to move towards a circular economy. This is where materials are retained in use at their highest value for as long as possible and are then re-used, repurposed, remanufactured or recycled. This is better for the environment and offers a diversity of new jobs in the Riverina Murray.
The 10,000 people who work in tourism support visitors to cities and towns, natural areas or world-class events such as the Deni Ute Muster.
The regional plan focuses on emerging visitor experiences such as agritourism, while also acknowledging many visitors (and tourism businesses) who want to experience the Murray River without the hindrance of state borders and jurisdictional differences.
Major health and education precincts include Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital, Albury-Wodonga Health, Griffith Base Hospital, Charles Sturt University, UNSW Rural Medical School, Notre Dame University Clinical School, Murrumbidgee Clinical Teaching and Learning Centre, 18 TAFE campuses and smaller hospitals and facilities.
Overall, nearly 27,000 people work in these industries. These workers and supporting businesses – as well as the communities they serve – will benefit from well planned, mixed-use precincts. Different complementary services will be located near to transport connections, making it easier for users and making better use of land.
Read objective 13 (PDF, 14.1 MB), objective 15 (PDF, 14.1 MB), objective 16 (PDF, 14.1 MB) and objective 17 (PDF, 14.1 MB) of the regional plan to learn more.