Delegation meets power brokers in Canberra

THE dairy and timber industries, communications and opportunities for decentralisation were among issues discussed when a Gippsland delegation met with power brokers in Canberra.

One Gippsland undertook a heavy schedule of meetings in Canberra with senior federal ministers, shadow ministers and advisers.

The delegation comprised representatives of the Committee for Gippsland, the Gippsland Local Government Network and the Regional Development Australia — Gippsland committee.

It included Committee for Gippsland board member and RDA Gippsland committee member Toni Wakefield, Committee for Gippsland chief executive Mary Aldred, RDA Gippsland chairman Richard Elkington, Latrobe City mayor Darrell White and council chief executive Gary Van Driel, representing the GLGN.

Across two days, One Gippsland met with Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, Gippsland MHR and Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester, Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham, advisors to Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, Resources Minister Matt Canavan, Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Arthur Sinodinos, Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, and senators Kimberley Kitching, Kim Carr and Jane Hume.

Ms Aldred said it was an excellent opportunity to discuss key issues, challenges and priorities on behalf of the region.

“It was terrific to be able to speak with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop about the importance of international investment to Gippsland, meet with Education Minister Simon Birmingham about the important work Federation University is undertaking, and shadow minister Kim Carr about energy and manufacturing challenges for the region,” she said.

The meeting with Ms Bishop talked about international opportunities for dairy, particularly with a number of innovative expansion opportunities underway in south Gippsland.

Ms Aldred said the group raised the importance of the timber industry with the office of the Environment and Energy Minister in terms of the Leadbeater’s Possum and the current review.

“Gippsland’s timber industry, especially in east Gippsland is vitally important, as are manufacturing businesses like Australian Paper who rely on access to resource for their operations,” she said.

One Gippsland recognises meeting digital connectivity challenges is a key priority for the region, and presented a strong focus on NBN rollout and blackspot eradication.

The delegation also discussed the importance of decentralisation opportunities with the office of the Financial Services and Revenue Minister, and said the region had a successful record of decentralisation with the ASIC office in Traralgon, and was eager to explore additional decentralisation opportunities.

Also discussed was the Latrobe Valley coal resource and innovative coal projects like coal to hydrogen and coal to fertiliser with the office of the Industry Minister.

Tourism opportunities across the region, particularly Bass Coast and east Gippsland, were also raised.

Cr White said the delegation provided a key opportunity for Gippsland to promote the critical issues that effected it now and into the future, including energy, education and research, food and fibre, connectivity, timber and tourism.

“We were able to meet with a broad range of senior representatives from across both sides of the political landscape, to both share our concerns, accentuate our priorities and gain an understanding from them about the way in which they are addressing the key issues effecting regional Australia and particularly our region,” he added.