Infrastructure and transport crucial
Regional Cities Victoria (RCV) is calling on the Victorian Government and Opposition to commit to supporting regional jobs, infrastructure and transport ahead of next year’s Victorian Election.
Mayors and CEOs from Victoria’s 10 largest regional cities met in Melbourne on Friday as part of the RCV Annual Forum, where they outlined the group’s regional priorities to Premier Daniel Andrews and Opposition Leader Matthew Guy.
The priorities are identified in RCV’s new strategic document, Growing our Regions — Growing Victoria, which details the key areas that will support the growth of regional cities.
Infrastructure and transport will be the areas requiring the most investment with employment growth in regional Victoria rising by more than double the national rate during the past year.
Nearly 27 000 new jobs were created and ABS data shows that unemployment has fallen by 0.4 per cent to 5.1 per cent, which is the second lowest regional unemployment rate in Australia.
Since November 2014 more than 60 000 regional jobs have been created, which accounts for almost a quarter of all new jobs added in Victoria during that time.
However, there is always a requirement for job creation as the population grows and significant investment in all three areas will benefit the wider community.
RCV chair Anna Speedie says that regional cities provide Victorians with a truly unique lifestyle alternative to Melbourne.
‘‘With greater investment in jobs, infrastructure and transport, we can boost our regional economies and ultimately draw a greater share of Victoria’s population — alleviating pressure on Greater Melbourne,’’ Cr Speedie said.
Growing our Regions — Growing Victoria identifies jobs, business growth, population growth, livability, transport, and future industries as the key to economic growth in regional Victoria.
Cr Speedie said these were the priorities that would shape RCV’s advocacy efforts through to the election in November next year.
‘‘Providing genuine incentives for new and existing businesses to create jobs in regional Victoria, and operate over the long term, is critical to our success as regional cities,’’ Cr Speedie said.
‘‘Population growth and liveability are also key.
‘‘We can do more to attract residents to live and work in our regions by boosting investment in infrastructure and delivering better local services.
‘‘One of our highest priorities is the need for improvements to transport and connectivity across the state.
‘‘Providing easier, faster transport corridors will reduce pressure on Melbourne, improve regional access to markets, and provide better access to jobs and housing in regional locations.
‘‘RCV has also identified future industries as a long-term priority.
‘‘Regional cities need to be prepared for the transition of industries, such as mining and manufacturing, the changes in agriculture, and the impact of technology and automation on our workforce.’’
RCV is committed to gathering evidence to inform policy options, and will undertake research in each of the priority areas to inform sound and logical proposals to the government and opposition.
The Andrews government will argue that it is already one step ahead with its focus on job creation and infrastructure spending.
State Treasurer Tim Pallas said the Labor Government efforts to create new jobs was gathering momentum and creating opportunities across the state.
‘‘Our investments in infrastructure, health and education across regional Victoria, as well as our payroll tax cuts, are providing employment for thousands of Victorians and bolstering the confidence of regional businesses to expand their operations,’’ Mr Pallas said.