Parliament House, Canberra.
Parliament House, Canberra.

Opinion: Strong voice takes regional priorities to Canberra

ONE of the core values of GW3 is to advocate for the Mackay Isaac Whitsunday region to help drive regional prosperity into the future.

Advocate is a word we are hearing more and more. But what does it actually mean?

For GW3, advocacy means to be the strongest voice for regional development opportunities.

We do this in our conversations with media; in presentations to think-tanks, such as the recent BioEconomy Policy Summit in Brisbane, and in meetings and delegations with state and federal governments.

Recently, GW3 travelled to Canberra with a delegation of Mackay Isaac Whitsunday region industry leaders to showcase our region; highlight our opportunities for investment but also discuss our willingness to embrace emerging industries and the challenges that digital technology is bringing.

While in Canberra, GW3 also participated in the Northern Australia Alliance program; GW3 co-sponsored the Annual Statement on Developing Australia event at Parliament House, which was attended by more than 200 guests including Ministers, parliamentarians, key advisers and a range of other agency attendees.

During our meetings, including those with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews and Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matthew Canavan, GW3 led productive conversations around our regional priorities and the role the Federal Government has in supporting our region’s continued prosperity.

The GW3 delegation presented to Ministers and key advisers our three-fold approach to tackling the opportunities associated with Industry 4.0 including the rise of automation and digital technology.

Firstly, GW3 believes action needs to be taken to modify existing programs to support SME businesses to maintain regional business health in the face of Industry 4.0. In particular, increases need to be made to the limited public investment available to support SME’s to develop innovative practices, business plans and operational strategies to support required transformation.

Second is to expand the current Regional Connectively Program to include funding for development of regional digital/connectively strategies. These strategies should be a mandated requirement before investment toward infrastructure occurs in order to lower risk and improve outcomes. This will enable regions to access funding to support digital infrastructure more efficiently.

Finally, GW3 believes it is vital for government investment to develop a regional economic development fund to support regions transition through digital transformation.

GW3, with the support of Mackay Isaac and Whitsunday regional councils, is leading this work on behalf of the MIW region; however, formalised financial investment from government is required.

GW3 firmly believes community-led efforts in transformation is the key to success and will continue to advocate at all levels on these and other issues.

Importantly, trips like these to Canberra are also centred on supporting our decision makers in the highest office in the country become educated and familiar with our region is critical. GW3 looks forward to heading back to our nation’s capital in 2020 to keep these important issues on top of the agenda.