In­fra­struc­ture and trans­port cru­cial

Benalla Ensign - - News - By Si­mon Rup­pert

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.

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