Industry issues warning to voters.

The Bendigo Business Council has issued a strongly worded warning to voters in next month’s council election, arguing positions taken by some candidates could threaten the city’s growth.

BBC chief executive officer Leah Sertori said underqualified candidates and those standing in support of a single issue posed a “significant threat to business growth” in Bendigo.

“Statements by some candidates to date, calling for cuts to spending in tourism and the arts demonstrate tremendous ignorance of the $408-million-a-year contribution tourism makes to our regional economy,” she said.

“Small business is the largest employer of people in Bendigo, with 7500 small businesses registered in our municipality.

“Our members are more frequently impacted by the decisions made at the Greater Bendigo council and by the behaviour of its councillors than they are by state and federal governments.

“This election is of tremendous importance to our members and the local business community at large.”

The comments come on the back of a survey the BBC conducted of its 620 member organisations, which identified six priorities for the next set of councillors including financial literacy and the ability to “be an ambassador for Bendigo that enhances our reputation on the national and international stage”.

The other priorities were foresight, a commitment to small business, collaboration and an understanding of the local economy.

“We call on the citizens of Bendigo to undertake some basic research on candidates standing for election before casting your vote in October,” Ms Sertori said.

“We recommend citizens consider our list of attributes and capabilities that candidates require to be effective as a councillor.

“A vote for candidates that truly address those six key attributes will help ensure Bendigo remains on track toward a vibrant and prosperous community for all citizens.”

The survey also showed the business community’s top infrastructure priority was the completion of the Ulumbarra Theatre with 92 per cent of respondents ranking it as somewhat important or very important.

There was also a high level of support for the Marong Business Park, art gallery expansion, Bendigo Airport and beautification of the central business district.

Bendigo Business Council statement of priorities for candidates for the City of Greater Bendigo council election:

1. Demonstrate a commitment to support small business as the largest employer in Bendigo.

Candidates must commit to making Bendigo the business capital of regional Australia by reducing red tape, resolving planning issues quickly and advocating for enabling infrastructure such as the NBN, transport solutions and a vibrant central business district.

2. Demonstrate foresight

The ability to step back and get a total picture of the City of Greater Bendigo and ability to envisage its future. We do not support candidates running on a single issue.

3. Demonstrate financial literacy

The ability to understand, interpret and apply financial data. The city has a turnover of $250 million per annum. To be financially literate is an essential attribute.

4. Collaborate

Councillors must be able to work through differences of opinion with respect for each other and for the reputation of the city as a whole.

5. Provide effective stewardship

Be an ambassador for Bendigo that enhances our reputation on the national and international stage.

6. Understand our economy

Candidates must understand the basic make-up of the Greater Bendigo economy, which has an annual gross regional product of $5.6 billion. Candidates should be able to explain how major sectors such as manufacturing, retail, tourism and health contribute to the vibrancy and prosperity of our community as a whole.


This article is courtesy of the Bendigo Advertiser