The impact zone of a changing economy

The impact zone of a changing economy

Calare’s primary industry and resources sector is the undisputed king when it comes to jobs, but as industry shrinks so too does the electorate.

Blayney: a transport hub

Blayney: a transport hub

When former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson retired from politics, his seat of Gwydir went with him. Calare consumed it, pushing the seat’s boundaries into the far west, forgoing working-class Bathurst and Lithgow to Macquarie.

The radical redistribution threw into doubt the political future of Calare’s beloved independent member, Peter Andren.

Andren decided not to re-contest Calare at the 2007 election, sadly dying from pancreatic cancer shortly afterwards.

The electorate swapped to the Nationals with the election of John Cobb in 2007. At the last election, the electorate moved back to its traditional core of Lithgow and Bathurst.

The fluoro army in Orange

The fluoro army in Orange

Mr Cobb defied political orthodoxy and held the seat by a comfortable 10.7% with the latest redistribution in tow.

The shift of once relatively stable boundary lines is indicative of the nomadic nature of Calare’s constituents, moving back and forth as jobs disintegrate and regenerate.

Orange, the epicentre of this vast electorate, is a hive of activity. From about 5pm, the main street is splashed with fluorescent yellow as workers trickle in from the nearby Cadia mine.

Cadia Valley miners

Cadia Valley miners

But townspeople are also likely to work in local businesses, NSW Government Offices, or from thriving vineyards to the east.

Highland Heritage Estate

Highland Heritage Estate

A distinctive flavour enabled by a cool climate

A distinctive flavour enabled by a cool climate

Love locks in Orange

Love locks in Orange

Down the purpose-built freight line to Blayney, extending all the way to awaiting megaships at Port Kembla, country charm meets an international thirst for Australian resources.

The next train to Port Kembla

The next train to Port Kembla

But just over the hill, the Blayney Wind Farm looms, providing the near perfect snapshot of how old contrasts with the new.

Blayney Wind Farm

Blayney Wind Farm

The jobs in these new industries will be filled locally by the bright young minds at Charles Sturt University and the Western Institute of TAFE, simultaneously learning their craft and about this region.

Calare has a major beef industry

Beef is a major industry in Calare

Local produce

Local produce in Blayney

On sale: Peter Butler lures passing motorists with home-grown vegetables

Peter Butler lures passing motorists with home-grown vegetables

These highly educated graduates could well buck the mood in Bathurst where the sun sets over a once-proud industrial heartland. A high Australian dollar and an expensive labour force continues to stretch local production to breaking point.

The last truck leaves the Simplot factory in Bathurst

The last truck leaves the Simplot factory in Bathurst

Calare is steeped in history, it knows the past well, but what lies ahead is yet to be seen.

A day ends in Bathurst

A day ends in Bathurst

From rolling pastures to open cut mines to towering wind turbines, and the intellectually restless, this electorate is changing.

Watch Grassroots Politics’ special investigation into the state of manufacturing in the Central West 4pm Friday via live streaming. 

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