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Wednesday, 28 November 2012
Page: 13821


Mr MARLES (CorioParliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs and Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs) (09:58): Last month, the City of Greater Geelong concluded its elections, which saw for the first time Geelong directly elect its mayor. That saw the successful election of Councillor Keith Fagg. I very much give my congratulations to him today. One of the biggest challenges facing the City of Greater Geelong is how it transforms itself from a local government to a regional government. As our population climbs above 225,000 people, it is important the city sees itself as more than just the manager of footpaths, a planning authority and the collector of rubbish. It needs to see itself as a major driver of the economy, giving jobs creation and economic growth the same priority that these issues receive from state and federal levels of government. Ultimately, that is what the city of Greater Geelong has to become: a government responsible for building the economy for the people of this region, just as the state is responsible for the economic management of Victoria and the federal government is responsible for managing the economy of our nation. For too long in Geelong economic development has been overshadowed at council levels by what many people would consider traditional council priorities such as planning and finance. I believe the priority of planning right now is strangling the city's potential to drive jobs growth. Economic development should sit as equal to finance and planning in the structure of the council. It is too easily swallowed up by other priorities. To be sure, planning absolutely matters. Indeed, good planning is fundamental to a strong economy. But the objectives of planning need to be balanced with the need for economic growth. The two should go hand in hand.

Too often in Geelong we see a triumph of planning over jobs. A good example of this is Heales Road, Lara, where planning proposals and financial priorities of council have overridden a unique opportunity to drive jobs growth. The Heales Road area is one of Australia's best stretches of development land. It is close to all major transport routes, including Avalon airport, Geelong port,the Princes Freeway and the National Rail line, but its process has been stymied by planning and finance decisions at a local government level. If the Heales Road development was seen through the prism of jobs creation, it would unlock the massive potential of this area to attract investment both nationally and internationally. That is why Councillor Keith Fagg's proposal for Enterprise Geelongis so important and I commend his vision.

Enterprise Geelong will recalibrate council's focus. Councillor Fagg understands jobs creation should be top of the council's agenda and economic development given the highest priority. It was a real pleasure to welcome the mayor to Canberra this week as part of Geelong's high-level delegation. The central event of this visit was theFed Cats dinner, a celebration in this building of what is the best run sporting club in this country.Fed Cats is also a celebration of the city from which the footy club draws its strength and sense of community. Geelong has a special knack of pulling together and getting on with the job, and our council now has the chance to back that with its own commitment to regional enterprise and economic development.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! In accordance with standing order 193 the time for constituency statements has concluded.