Can the Great South Coast Tell the Bold Stories?
There is a way to grow and secure the economic future of the Great South Coast’s (GSC) economy despite sitting outside the gravitational pull of Melbourne, the loss of thousands of jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic and young adults packing their bags and heading to the big city leaving the region with a higher than average age profile. But we need strong leadership and courage to tell the bold stories.
Simon Kuestenmacher, co-founder and director at The Demographics Group, implored us to understand the trends and changes of our region at both a local and world scale, so we can make informed decisions on our future. Australia is the 13th largest economy (GDP/capita) in the world and growing. The majority of our trillion-dollar international trading is with our Asian neighbours who are experiencing massive growth and by 2030 will contain mega cities with over a million people each. Charlie McElhone, Group Manager Trade & Industry Strategy at Dairy Australia, described Greater China and South East Asia as the two biggest markets consuming dairy in 2021/22. The GSC is one of the largest producers and processors of milk in Australia with an economic contribution of $1.99 billion in gross regional product (GRP) and 12,400 jobs after flow-on effects. We have the industry and the market but what are our threats?
Although the GSC sits two hours outside the gravitational pull of Melbourne, Simon showed the region has seen an increase in house prices ranging from 18% to 34% in the past year, increasing prices to an unattainable level for many. Charlie estimates a 3.5% decline in milk production this season from last season. Some threats being lack of labour, competition for land and higher beef prices. Natalie Collard, Executive Officer at Food & Fibre Great South Coast, described how some GSC communities don’t have access to adequate services to efficiently operate their businesses.
Given this, what is our bold story? We need to invest in us, the GSC, invest in new technology, infrastructure and use of natural resources sustainably and we will continue to provide world class dairy, food and fibre products for years to come. We also need to have the courage and creative thinking as leaders to invest in retaining staff, to then attract employees into the region. Are you up for the challenge?
Thank you to Simon, Charlie, Natalie and Brendan Rea from Solaris Farms for providing us with an insight into how the economy drives the Great South Coast.
Justin Harzmeyer, 2022 LGSC Program Participant