- Opinion Piece -

Clear, Inspirational Regional Vision Needed

Welcome to 2022 which is certainly set to be a big and important year with upcoming elections at Federal and Victorian government levels. A Federal election will be called at any time up until May 20 and the Victorian state election is locked in for late November.

Late last year our current Federal Member for Nicholls, Damian Drum announced he would step down. This has created an opportunity for new faces to enter the election process with the goal of representing our region in Canberra.

To date we have seen three, strong and passionate candidates putting their hands up to do the job. Once the Federal election is called, there may be further candidates who enter this race. It’s important that we, as voters, become part of the conversations with our candidates on the issues and priorities in and for our seat of Nicholls.

As the federal election approaches, we look forward to hearing more from all candidates, to understand what drives their priorities and their vision for our region.  As we move into the second half of the year, we can expect to repeat this process with the candidates contesting the Victorian state election.  So, it is certainly a time for our region to give thought to what we want our future to look like.

Our region has many strengths including an economy that’s driven by existing and emerging agriculture, manufacturing and professional services. To continue to thrive and harness the opportunities in these areas and to make sure we aren’t left behind, the region requires government representation that can advocate for our needs across a wide range of topics – from water security, and building the Shepparton bypass, to embracing the new industries and opportunities that are already emerging as businesses, industries and communities plan their transition to net zero emissions. There will be further issues for us to discuss over coming weeks and months – from education and skills attraction, to land development and embracing our diversity – but the key message is about making sure our region’s needs are known and heard by everyone on the ballot.

Water Security

Secure water resources are critical to our region’s economy, employment, communities and environment, so we are very eager to hear what our federal and state representatives have to say on this topic. Already this year we have been visited by the Federal Minister for Water Keith Pitt – and it provided a valuable opportunity to directly engage with the current government.

With elections looming, visits from current and potential ministers from of all sides of politics are a reality, which is a prime time for all of us to get in front of them and collectively voice those issues that need to be heard, understood and addressed.

Shepparton Bypass

The Goulburn Valley Highway Shepparton Bypass is of the highest priority to our region, with the project already having been allocated more than $200 million from the Federal Government in the 2018/2019 budget and $10.2 million from the State Government in the 2017/18 budget.

Whether it’s the movement of freight or people, to, from or around our region, the bypass is the key missing piece in our transport network – a network that supports the safe and efficient movement of food and produce across a large part of south-east Australia.

2022 is a great opportunity for our Federal and Victorian governments to break through the current barriers and to deliver on this project. We look forward to hearing our candidates’ views and commitments on this topic.

Net Zero Transition

Understanding the policy directions at both levels of government in this space is important to our region – to enable our communities and businesses to plan, but also because of the opportunities we can tap into to grow and potentially lead innovation and adaptation for our region in existing and emerging industries.

We want to see a clear and inspirational vision from our candidates of what our region will look like at the end of their term – and ideally the term beyond that too. We want to know that when we put a number 1 in their ballot box come election day, we know exactly what they stand for, what they are fighting for and that they have the region’s best interest at heart to ensure that where we live is the best it possibly can be for all who live in it.

In previous election years the Committee for Greater Shepparton has provided an opportunity to all voters to hear the thoughts of our potential candidates and we will look to provide this and similar opportunities over the course of 2022.

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Jodie Fleming

Jodie Fleming