small business Community facilities Agriculture | September 11, 2017

Population Policy Taskforce comes to Horsham

Community and business leaders from across the Wimmera, Grampians and Southern Mallee have come together in Horsham to have their say on the challenges the Lowan electorate faces in growing its population and how government policy can assist.

The Nationals Member for Lowan Emma Kealy MP hosted the forum along with Victorian Population Taskforce deputy chair Danny O’Brien to seek input from local residents into the Liberal and Nationals’ population policy in the lead up to the 2018 State Election.

The Nationals and Liberals have established the Population Policy Taskforce to encourage economic growth within regional Victoria.

Ms Kealy said attracting skilled people to the region, a lack of public transport and incentives for attracting businesses were key issues arising from the discussion. 

“One of the key issues at Horsham was ways to attract appropriately skilled and qualified people, along with the decentralisation of Government agencies and their senior management”, Ms Kealy said.

“The Regional Living Expo in Melbourne was a great opportunity to promote the benefits of living and working in regional Victoria but this has been scrapped by the city centric Andrews Labor Government”, she said.

The development of renewable energy was discussed as a way of ensuring businesses have secure energy options and in supporting the reduction of energy prices.

"Businesses are extremely concerned about skyrocketing energy costs caused by Labor's policy to close the Hazelwood Power Station. Lack of energy security is putting local business and jobs at risk," Ms Kealy said.

Incentives, tax relief options and simplifying planning requirements to help grow existing and attract new businesses to establish in the region were also discussed.

“The Horsham forum raised many wonderful local existing and potential tourism opportunities and the need for additional infrastructure to support more visitors and business growth to our great part of the State,” Ms Kealy said.

Another key issue was the Western Rail Project and the need to improve passenger rail services and public transport options not only within the region but also to Melbourne.

“I recently took a delegation of key regional Council representatives to meet with the Hon. Matthew Guy, Leader of the Opposition and received in principle support for a feasibility study into the return of passenger rail services to Western Victoria if elected to Government”, Ms Kealy said.

“I would like to thank everyone who gave up their time to discuss this critical issue for regional Victoria. It was extremely useful and I encourage anyone with an idea for how we can grow country Victoria in a sustainable way to contact me through my website,” she said.

The Victorian Population Policy Taskforce’s Interim Report was released in July and can be accessed at

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