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Chamber welcomes calls for regional ‘power’ centres


Release Date: 27/11/2019
The Hunter Business Chamber has backed calls for government to harness the potential of strong regional centres to power the national economy, saying areas such as the Hunter have great potential to solve the problems that hinder economic growth in capital cities.  
 
The Business Council of Australia (BCA) has called for the Federal Government to prioritise investment in 10 key regional centres, including the Hunter, while a new report  released this week urges government to recognise the economic and growth potential of ‘gateway cities’ such as Newcastle, Geelong and Wollongong.  
 
BCA Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said in a National Press Council address that strong regional economies were the “unsung heroes’ of the Australian economy and that government and business should be doing more to encourage investment and job creation in these centres.  
 
Calling on the Government to select 10 regional centres to power the national economy, she suggested they should be areas, like the Hunter, that have gateway infrastructure such as an airport or major transport routes, successful industries, strategic importance, proximity to major power grids, a university and a TAFE, and available housing and health services. 
 
“We have long argued that investment in the Hunter has significant potential to relieve issues such as congestion, over-population and property affordability that are holding back growth in Sydney and other capital cities,” Hunter Business Chamber CEO Bob Hawes said.  
 
“Governments can get much more bang for their infrastructure buck in the Hunter, where a single major investment in a project such as a hospital, major road or airport has significant ripple effects in terms of job creation, industry attraction and increased economic activity. 
 
“Plus, we have a skilled workforce ready to meet the demands of business and industry, backed by tertiary and vocational education providers who have a strong willingness to work with industry to ensure we are training people for the jobs of the future.”  
 
The Australia’s Gateways to Growth Report, published by the Committee for Geelong in partnership with the City of Newcastle, Wollongong City Council and the City of Greater Geelong, identifies factors that show how ‘gateway cities’ can offer greater impact and benefits for investment. 
 
Released in Canberra this week, it recommends the use of the term ‘gateway cities’ to define non-capital cities with significant growth potential based on criteria of size, scale and a sufficiently diverse economic base capable of maximising returns on investment. 
 
“One of the barriers we need to overcome is government’s inconsistent categorisation of regional and non-regional areas for funding purposes,” Mr Hawes said.  
 
“Government planning and investment needs to be done on a whole-of-region basis, which is difficult to achieve when some local government areas are locked out of funding opportunities because they are not deemed to be ‘regional’.”  
 



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