My vision is for South West Coast is for sustainable population growth through improved connectivity and infrastructure and to capitalise on the huge advantages we have to strengthen our position as the state’s food and fibre production leader.
Our region is well positioned for growth. Melbourne is full and we can help ease the pressure, but we need to invest in connectivity infrastructure to bring the city and the country closer together.
Physical infrastructure like improved road and rail connections will not only help people get to and from the city quicker and easier, it also has significant benefits for our agriculture sector, helping get produce to market in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
I’m determined to see significant improvement in the quality of our roads – country people deserve to be safe on the roads like their city counterparts. Deaths on country roads are over represented in the Victorian Road Toll and we need to take a holistic approach to address road safety issues – we need to fix the road surface and then consider other safety treatments. Simply ignoring the road surface and lowering speed limits or installing wire rope barriers isn’t good enough – it’s only half doing the job.
Improvements to our passenger and freight rail services will also have wide ranging benefits. Trains on the Warrnambool line are past their used by date and prone to breakdowns.
The Federal Government has committed funding to upgrade the tracks and signalling infrastructure, but the State must commit to new, fast and reliable trains to reduce travel times and to make sure people can get to where they need to be on time.
We also need to improve digital infrastructure – mobile phone and internet connections are becoming more and more important as people work from home and as technology transforms the way farmers do business.
If we can improve physical and digital connectivity our region will be able to offer people greater opportunities to live and work in our region.
Access to Labour and housing are some of our biggest challenges, but resetting policies around rental tenancies to level the current imbalance and ensuring our young people are engaged and valued through meaningful work and education will help us over come those challenges.
Agriculture underpins our region – we are the states largest food and fibre production area in terms of farmgate output and the second highest in the nation.
But there is further room for growth as the global community looks to meet an ever-increasing demand for food and fibre.
Our region has huge advantages. It is already the leading milk producer in the country with ability for further growth.
We don’t have urban encroachment on farm land and we have massive water advantages – not only secure rainfall, but un-compromised underground water.
The South West Coast region successfully produces so many agricultural products, dairy, beef, lamb, seafood, grain, fibre and timber. The ability for increased productivity with the right policies to facilitate this is enormous. I will provide the leadership require to ensure we are able to optimise the part we can play in that challenge.
Our region will be the solution to the greatest challenge ever faced and an opportunity for Melbourne to de-clutter itself.
I will be the champion of South West Coast’s capacity to achieve this.