WHAT'S THE FUTURE OF TWEED? The Tweed region needs to become more self-sustaining so residents can have a complete career, according to demographer Bernard Salt.
WHAT'S THE FUTURE OF TWEED? The Tweed region needs to become more self-sustaining so residents can have a complete career, according to demographer Bernard Salt. SUPPLIED

Demographer shares vision for Tweed as economic hub

THE Tweed is in for a bright future and could become a major economic and business hub by 2050, according to leading demographer Bernard Salt.

Mr Salt, managing director of The Demographics Group, says while the Tweed is known as a place for retirement, by the middle of the century it will be something different altogether.

"The Tweed is known for retirement and certainly that's the feel, you just have to walk through the communities, Twin Towns, it serves a purpose and I have no doubt the Tweed has evolved to the position it is at the moment due to the longevity of life, the pension and superannuation,” he said.

"Put those three together and you have places like the Tweed and I would argue it's one of the best examples of retirement lifestyles in NSW.”

But the Tweed won't be known as a place for retirement much longer.

With the Gold Coast Airport set to become a "major international hub”, alongside the development of major educational and health facilities, Mr Salt said the Tweed would be known as something completely different in the future.

"By the middle of the century I think it's a different question, I would expect the Coolangatta airport to be a major international hub and can see a whole range of spin-off aviation businesses that spill over into the surrounding areas,” he said.

"I would expect Tweed to be a major business and workplace hub, more than just doctors and dentists but businesses that might have a regional role.”

Mr Salt said the Tweed region needed to become more "self-sustaining” so residents could "have a complete career like in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.”

"What we need to do, what Queensland needs to do and the Tweed needs to be part of this, is contain the Southeast Queensland region, almost put a ring around the Gold Coast and Tweed so you don't have 25,000 people a day travelling up the Pacific Highway to Brisbane, that you have a sufficient number of jobs, higher remuneration jobs and quality jobs,” he said.

"The Tweeds population might be around double what it is at the moment (90,000) by the middle of the century and that will create employment and business opportunities which need to be captured locally and not on the Gold Coast.”

Mr Salt said residents should be able to live, work and play within 35 minutes of their workplace, while the expansion of Southern Cross University and the introduction of a bigger technological campus would be a "major driver for the region”.

"As the Tweed's population grows there will be more jobs involved in health, education and the delivery of professional services,” he said.

"You'd want to see Southern Cross expand or grow, the Tweed needs to be delivering more medical graduates such as nurses and teachers, as well as plumbers, electricians and carpenters, those are the jobs you'd expect to come out of the Tweed by 2050.

"Even when we have autonomous vehicles, we'll still need mechanics and people who can work with new technology.”

An aerial view of Murwillumbah.
Murwillumbah 2018: The Tweed Valley needs to add value to its agricultural products and sell them to China, quickly, demographer Bernard Salt says. Josh Northeast

Mr Salt said the Tweed's agricultural areas such as Cudgen were still "very functional” but would need to "add value to their agricultural product in the future”.

"Out in the rural parts of Tweed, what are the ways in which the Tweed can add value to agricultural products?” he said.

"It needs something that adds value rather than just grow, produce and ship it out, that's old world thinking, in the 21st century we need to add value in the supply chain.

"We need to think about things such as what do the Chinese want that is fresh and we can get to them.”

Mr Salt said development of the Tweed's coastal villages such as Kingscliff should be "appropriately managed” but believed strategic planning was "better than ever”.

"You need to make sure the urban development is in a style that is consistent with the building envelope at the moment, you don't want Surfers Paradise towers suddenly popping up there,” he said.

"Much of the development can be off the coast in less sensitive areas, there's always going to be an impact but strategic planning can mitigate those risks and I think we're much better at strategic planning now, we don't get it right every time but we're more sensitive and better and that gives me confidence.

"The shire of Tweed should be boldly ambitious for the future.”