State and federal leaders meet on the future of regional Victoria21/03/2019
Influential leaders from state and federal government have come together for the first time ahead of the Federal election to align advocacy efforts across regional Victoria.
Chairs from the Federal Government’s five Regional Development Australia (RDA) committees together with chairs from the State Government’s nine Regional Partnerships (RP) discussed the challenges and opportunities facing regional Victoria and the collective role both entities have in advocating for action at both levels of government.
Chair of Chairs Bruce Anson of RDA Barwon South West led the interactive session with Chair of Chairs David McKenzie of the Goulburn Regional Partnership.
There was also representation from west to east of the state present including the Mallee, Loddon Mallee, Wimmera Southern Mallee, Great South Coast, Central Highlands, Loddon Campaspe, Barwon, Goulburn, Ovens Murray, Hume and Gippsland.
“This is the first time RDAs and RPs have come together to leverage our collective passion for regional Victoria and our unique means of influence and expertise to pave a new way forward and drive the best outcomes for our state across each of our priority areas,” said Mr Anson.
“As representatives for our communities at state and federal levels, we (RDAs and RPs) are the leading voices of what is going on in regional Victoria for industry, business and the community and play an important role in identifying and clearing blockages in the regions.”
Transport, climate change, skills shortages and energy supply were identified during the discussion as the collective issues impacting all regions across the state.
“Regional passenger and freight rail need to stay on the state and federal agenda and requires an integrated strategy to determine what happens in this space next and what policies can be put in place to achieve the transformational change required to connect our regions,” said Chair of Chairs David McKenzie of the Goulburn Regional Partnership.
“We are all concerned about the impact climate change is having on our regions particularly on water security. More needs to be done to support our communities and our major sectors, particularly agriculture, to cope with and plan for extreme weather conditions.”
The group also identified how a clear direction and vision for regional Victoria is required.
“There is a clear vision for Melbourne as articulated in the Future Melbourne 2026 Plan but there no clear strategic vision for regional Victoria. Without this vision from government we aren’t aiming change towards a preferred future in the regions,” said Mr Anson.
In closing, the group agreed to change the conservation with government following the federal election.
“It’s not just about identifying a problem and asking for state or federal money to fix it. It’s also about our collective influence on policy and the policy makers that can enable change in the same way a monetary investment can,” said Mr Anson.
“Together, Regional Partnerships and RDA committees have a unique opportunity off the back of the election to work together and leverage expertise cross-regionally to paint a new picture for regional Victoria – bringing a sharper focus on the cost of inaction and the impacts to the economy, the community and our environment,” said Mr McKenzie.