Published 17 May 2018, The Courier, Ballarat
Now that the state and federal budgets have been released, it’s timely to reflect on our region’s priorities and aspirations because, whilst there are buckets of funding around, their distribution relies on strong business cases and advocacy.
Our members at Committee for Ballarat have clearly said in the recent strategic review that the long-term priorities are connectivity, regionalisation, new energy and community leadership. These have not changed substantially over recent years because by their very nature they require constant advocacy, sound reasoning, factual bases and an eye to future technological advances.
We are in the business of thought leadership and influence, not project delivery, to envision an innovative, prosperous and sustained community life.
Within these priorities are many projects such as the emergency services centre at Ballarat Airport and stage 2 of the Link Road, which Ballarat council has led for some years. Committee has consistently supported these projects and will continue to do so. We will also continue our support for the Ararat water pipeline, which is vital for farming productivity.
We also welcome initiatives for businesses in the area of asset depreciation, incentives to employ older workers, and tremendous boosts to health services, aged care and university places in regional areas.
The increase in the Building Better Regions funding of $150 million over the next two years, major infrastructure commitments, rural roads and regional medical training will provide significant opportunities for local councils to work together on competing for these funds. We will support them fully where productivity, new jobs and opportunities are evident.
But our role is different because of our members, and that’s why we give attention to futures with driverless shuttle buses, hydrogen trains, storage solutions for solar and wind power (come on in, Elon Musk), next generation leaders, and new energy training capability.
If we continue to look to traditional solutions, we will miss the job creation opportunities for both older and younger people. Our universities are a key source of employable graduates because, along with other regions, over 70 per cent of them stay and work in their regions.
However, in our region there is still evidence of skill shortages, such as engineers and welders, so it’s clear many businesses are expanding and taking whatever supply is forthcoming.
We need an environment where health, arts and education outputs are reflected and valued within a thriving region that attracts diverse talents, experiences and backgrounds to stimulate entrepreneurship and create new futures.
Our Leadership Ballarat & Western Region program produces future leaders who see excitement ahead, and some of us need to know when to get out of their way and let them step up.
Our More than Gold campaign begins in earnest this week, showcasing what is happening already within our community, why people are attracted to Ballarat and the region, and why they decide to stay here. Look out for some exciting stories that may surprise and fill you with pride.
Committee for Ballarat represents organisations comprising 75 per cent of the regional workforce in private, public and non-profit sectors. It does not compete for government funding nor deliver projects directly, so success will be judged in the long term by our members.
We anticipate the community will recognise Committee’s efforts, along with others, through a rewarding and satisfying regional lifestyle.
Chair, Committee for Ballarat