Plea to boost regional hubs

Sophie ElliottBusselton Dunsborough Times

Australia’s leading business association has called on the Morrison Government to give 10 regional centres economic priority status, with Busselton listed as a contender.

In a speech to the National Press Club, Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said to unlock the next wave of jobs, businesses and exports, political and business leaders should “identify the places around Australia that could make the greatest economic contribution”.

Ms Westacott mentioned Busselton, Geelong, Ballarat, Newcastle, Wollongong and Toowoomba.

She said it was not up to the BCA to determine the list, but using the criteria she laid out, “the places selected themselves” and decisions could not be made based on “electoral politics”. The criteria included the regional centre having nearby gateway infrastructure such as an airport or major transport routes; being home to one or two successful industries; and having the capacity to attract more investment.

Ms Westacott also urged corporate Australia to build on its investment in regional areas and used Rio Tinto’s influence in Busselton as an example of big invest-ors “transforming” communities.

Speaking as Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories, Forrest MHR Nola Marino said regional communities remained at the core of Australia’s economy, and the Government’s policies were boosting regional industries, growing regional economies and improving infrastructure.

Mrs Marino listed the Commonwealth’s recent $25 million investment in Busselton, including the Busselton Marine Discovery Centre and the Busselton Entertainment Arts and Culture Hub, as evidence of the Government’s commitment to the region.

Busselton Mayor Grant Henley said as a member of Regional Capitals Australia and the Regional Capitals Alliance WA, the City of Busselton was working to ensure regional cities which could deliver to a broader region were funded to deliver on that potential.

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