It seems a bit of a turnaround for an environmental candidate to prioritise the Economy?
Before the Pandemic, I had plans to run on a platform that prioritised our environment. However, in light of the Pandemic, I feel as though more focus should be paid to the economic recovery of our business community and our employment numbers must return to something resembling normal before Council spends its money on anything unessential.
Our local economy here in Bass Coast has in recent decades been largely dependent on Hospitality and Tourism, Construction (primarily housing) and Retail. Two of those three sectors have been almost entirely shut down by COVID-19 Laws and the total collapse of the Travel and Tourism Industries nationally. This is where the impact from the Pandemic has caused the highest business closure rate and where most of our local unemployment has been caused.
Okay, that seems reasonable. But what does a young person like you know about our economy?
I know a bit.
Agriculture and Fisheries are both fundamental to the economy and identity of the Bass Coast but neither offer employment of interest to the wider community or in numbers either very large or with the potential for growth. Communicating with our fishers and farmers, and assisting on specific issues when requested and practical, must continue to be part of Council’s work. Ongoing fishing and farming help stabilize our economy, as it requires the same staff to operate regardless of economic circumstances more widely. But it won’t help us to grow our way out of the Pandemic.
Then there is the Service Sector, from Mowing Contractors to Motor Mechanics to Maintenance Contractors to Personal Trainers, Hairdressers, Care Attendants and so on. All these people are dependent on the disposable income of the people employed in the other sectors, presuming that Social Distancing Restrictions remain eased and they are even allowed to operate at all.
Assisting this sector is not something Council normally considers. Other than Rate Relief, Council lacks the ability to provide any direct stimulus. For the Service sector to thrive all the other parts of the Economy need to be strong and stable at least, if not in actual growth.
Don't we have other Employment Sectors?
Of course! Though we have been introduced to Uber and similar companies. the impact of the Gig Economy has recently begun to be felt locally. This may do something for employment diversity in the Minimum Wage category but little else. They aren’t stable or fairly paid jobs. The Pandemic has made employment in the Gig economy even less attractive than it already was and as this is an emerging industry it is unclear how Council can accurately measure, let alone influence its growth.
Other not insignificant employment sectors are Governments including Council, Emergency Services, Agencies and NGO’s (including the Phillip Island Nature Park), Health, Community and Aged Care Providers. They normally provide ongoing, stable employment, which is extremely rare in the other sectors and have presumably continued to operate at something like normal throughout this disaster. This sector stabilizes employment locally but is little influenced by Council other than by maintaining a large and productive staff.
Local Councils are very often the largest employer in their Shire, and their staff are normally amongst the most academically qualified and well paid. Which is exactly as it should be. Council jobs are some of the best jobs going in Country Towns. They need to be because they directly and radically impact the community in the most basic ways, every day.
Alright, so you seem to know what you're talking about. What's your plan then?
Making Bass Coast Shire an attractive place for Local Government Professionals to work is in the community’s interest and is Council’s obligation. Making Bass Coast an attractive place to own and operate a business is also Council’s obligation, which is only achievable with great staff implementing great policy. We have the staff here at Bass Coast to implement great policies, we just currently lack a Council capable of developing them.
I've spent a lot of time getting advice from those far wiser than me, and I have put together a Policy Suite that addresses many of the issues we currently face, and many that attempt to predict and prepare for future challenges.
With your support and critically your VOTE this November, I will work to secure Council Policies along the lines of my Policies outlined here. With the full impact of the virus still unknown you need a Council with a firm commitment to supporting the local environment, the local economy and the local community. I hope to be part of that Council. Please consider my Policies and then make your decision.