(Image source: abc.net.au) 

During the pandemic, we have seen politicians from all sides come together and speak with one voice. This approach has been a welcome change from partisan politics. In Geelong, local peak representative bodies, including the Committee for Geelong, G21 Geelong Region Alliance, Geelong Chamber of Commerce, the City of Greater Geelong, Geelong Manufacturing Council and Tourism Greater Geelong and the Bellarine, have announced agreed priorities for the region.

When we are all able to work together, it inevitably leads to greater good for the community. This is because government can clearly see what the region needs and there can be little argument. What can make this approach challenging is that collective agreement often warrants parties to compromise and step back from self-interests. It also means there needs to be shared trust and respect.

In a recent article published in the New York Times (‘Trump Sent a Warning. Let’s Take It Seriously.’ Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, 29 September 2020), Hebrew University religious philosopher Moshe Halbertal is quoted as arguing that “politics needs a reference point outside of politics.”

“(It) needs values, it needs facts and it needs leaders who respect that there is a sacred domain of decisions that will never be used to promote political gain, only the common good,’’ Halbertal says.

This ‘sacred domain of decisions’ could not be more pivotal for all Australians right now. If our political realm is making decisions on strongly-agreed values and facts, we will be in a better place as we emerge out of lockdown and into a COVID normal environment.

So, what did the 2020-21 Federal Budget – historically delayed from May – say about our government and its message to Australians?

When Treasurer Josh Frydenberg stood up in Parliament House on Tuesday evening, it was big spending with big deficits. It had an explicit aim to bring optimism and hope to Australians. The Treasurer proclaimed “We have your back, we have a plan.”

As large regional, gateway city, Geelong is well-placed to help Australia through this time. We are increasingly attractive as a place to live, learn and earn. Our history as a manufacturing powerhouse places us in the box seat to leverage the Federal Government’s new interest in supporting the sector and securing our supply chains. More than ever, our port, airport, road and rail assets will be key to the country’s future.

The Treasurer has clearly aimed to create an environment for business to spend, invest and employ. With significant incentives to make capital purchases, opportunities to claim tax from previous profits using current losses, and providing subsidies to employ young people, this Budget relies on confidence from our private sector.  Bringing forward tax cuts for PAYG wage earners, also sends a strong message to business – “we are putting cash into people’s pockets to spend in the economy.”

We now need to share this optimism, confidence and hope and support our local businesses, invest in our future and if possible, spend our new, extra cash. However, more needs to be done.

The Committee for Geelong will continue to work with all levels of government to ensure we recover quickly and safely, and can leverage the significant assets and opportunities our region offers.

Jennifer Cromarty
CEO – Committee for Geelong