Sunday, March 29, 2009

community jobs forum

On Friday I attended a Jobs Forum hosted by Jason Wood, federal member for Latrobe. Jason invited Malcolm Turnbull (Leader of the Opposition) along to listen to the concerns of local business people.

The discussion was far ranging and covered a variety of topics of key concern to small business. Compliance and cost of the regulatory burden was high on the agenda, but support of the apprenticeship system, the impact of skills shortages and the role of traineeships and secondary education got a good mention too.

Of the shire's 13,515 businesses, 97% of them are small businesses (employing less than 20 people), I have always been a great supporter of local business. It's even more important than ever to support our local businesses in these tough economic times.

After the forum I took the opportunity to speak directly to Malcolm about some of the key issues affecting local economic development in Yarra Ranges. There are a number of areas of concern including skills shortages, particularly in the manufacturing, horticulture and hospitality industries.

Water for agriculture is also another key concern in Yarra Ranges, with reduced water flows impacting greatly on future development for our agricultural sector.

Other issues include lack of recognition as a rural area (denying access to many funding opportunities available in other rural areas), poor broadband connection, lack of public transport services, lack of natural gas supply and lack of industrially zoned land.

I had a copy of the Shire’s
Submission to the Outer Suburban/Interface Service and Development Committee of Parliament Inquiry into Local Economic Development in Outer Suburban Areas which I handed him along with our recently published Live and Work in the best of all worlds, a great publication highlighting the benefits of making your home and work in Yarra Ranges. I hope Malcolm takes the time to read about our issues in the Shire of Yarra Ranges.

Just to give you a bit of a snapshot of our local economic output in Yarra Ranges:
Our Gross Industry Output from all 17 sectors was just over $9 billion in 2007, an increase of 21.7% or $1.6 billion since 2001. Seventy percent of Output was from just five sectors:
Manufacturing 33.7%
Construction 10.7%
Property and Business Services 10.1%
Wholesale Trade 8.4%
Retail Trade 8.1%

It was a great opportunity to highlight key concerns of our Shire to the federal Liberal Party, who are currently seeking information from across the country to inform policy development for small business.

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