Shire notes with Mayor Wayne Bedggood

ONE of the most commonly used buzzwords within Government and the media at present is "transition".

This means many things to many people but there is no doubt that any responsible leader, whether they be from government, business or the educational sector, should be thinking about how we safeguard our societies economic future by ensuring strong and steady employment within a rapidly changing built and natural environment.

It is timely that the ten councils of the Hunter Joint Organisation have recently formed the Regional Economic Transition Standing Committee, given the many and diverse variables that are influencing our regional, and indeed our nations' and global, economies.

It is our hope that this Standing Committee will not only bring about rapid change to strengthen our collective local communities resilience to impending changes, but that we can simultaneously initiate a National Foundation for Economic Transition in partnership with other stakeholders, both regional and further afield.

This is not simply about what to do when the coal mining sector eventually declines, it is about so much more than that one variable.

The Hunter is the largest regional economy in Australia, ranking above Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory in terms of economic output.

It drives around 28 per cent of regional NSW's total economic output and is the largest regional contributor to the State's gross domestic product.

With so many jobs at risk (322,000) because of changing economic and environmental climates, we must, as leaders of our communities, ensure that we are constantly readdressing the needs of our regional workforce by creating sustainable, resilient and diverse employment opportunities.

Some of the contributing factors that are influencing change are, the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy, climate change, population growth, decline in the use of plastics, a change in the need for mineral resources, growth in robotics, affordability of materials and labour, advances in communication technology and a strong community desire for a sustainable economy and social amenity.

This list is by no means complete but does highlight many of variables that are dictating a need for us to adapt to change so that we may remain a strong economic region with a healthy employment level.

Our economic dependence on only a handful of key industries would be foolish and it will be the job of Transition Committees across our country to envisage, then suggest and help to create new and modified business enterprises.

If these enterprises prove to be worthy alternatives, it will be up to industries under threat from change to be agile enough to help transition their workforces to other employment skillsets.


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