Don’t forget Gippsland

COMMITTEE for Gippsland is advocating to government and other support agencies not to forget Gippsland businesses and communities as they plan for recovery from the double blow of bushfire and COVID-19.

Chief executive Jane Oakley said, as the global pandemic progressed, there was no question it was a challenging time for businesses and industry locally, nationally and world-wide.

“Right now, it’s extremely important to determine what’s required to ensure Gippsland is best prepared to hit the ground running once it is safe and viable to do so,” Ms Oakley confirmed.

Before the outbreak of COVID-19, the business sector in east Gippsland was working alongside government agencies, representative groups and council to jump-start the regional economy.

“The east Gippsland business economy suffered significant loss during its peak summer tourist season, but it was all geared-up in preparation for a busy Easter and school holiday break – something that really buoyed community and regional recovery efforts,” Ms Oakley recounted.

“During January and February, a number of fantastic initiatives were put into play, with the primary focus of bringing tourists and business back to east Gippsland.”

The Australian Defence Force, along with valuable assistance and goodwill from others outside the region, came to the rescue and helped fire-affected communities begin the journey to recovery.

Tourism operators and other businesses experienced significant uplift late February and March as a result of targeted investment and campaigns – helping to offset the loss during summer, a time businesses and community rely on to sustain their livelihood throughout the year.

On behalf of east Gippsland business and industry, C4G is seeking the following support in response to bushfire and COVID-19 recovery:

Government investment directed towards major infrastructure projects that engage local contractors in project delivery;

Easily accessible government stimulus packages for businesses and sole traders in need -packages with less ‘red tape’ and more administrative assistance to support applicants;

Assistance packages that help retain employees during this unprecedented downturn, enabling business and industry to respond quickly to re-activate the Gippsland’s economy;

Reliable avenues and, where needed, industry reform that activates cashflow quickly and easily;

Funding for programs to support community resilience and planning; and

Activation of private industry projects that are shovel-ready and present government with shared investment opportunities (public-private partnerships).

“C4G is committed to continue advocacy for the short to medium-term needs of business and industry in response to COVID-19 and the east Gippsland bushfires,” Ms Oakley reinforced.

“The committee and its board is giving priority to helping the region determine what is required to re-activate Gippsland’s economy post COVID-19.”