Community members urged to have say on Council’s Economic Strategy

Councillors Tony Judge, Sally Townley and Jonathan Cassell are urging community members to have their say on Council’s Economic Strategy.

COFFS Harbour City Councillors Tony Judge, Jonathan Cassell and Sally Townley have urged interested members of the Coffs community to have their say on the economic future of the region.

Councillor Judge said, “Many people are reluctant to engage in discussion around our economic future because the economy is so often portrayed as just about business.

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“However, the economy affects all of us who live here”.

“Whether we are business owners, service providers or customers, we all have a stake in our local economy and it’s important that as many people as possible have their say on our future direction,” Cr Judge said.

The councillors point out that Coffs Harbour is a major retail area and a tourist destination, and it is also a hub for health services, disability support and aged care.

Many people are employed by forms of Government, including the Council, and many others work as volunteers or in the not-for-profit sector.

Cr Judge said, “All of us engage with the local economy every day as customers or service users.

“We each have a stake in the economic future of Coffs Harbour.

“The economy is not all about financial growth, and, while it is an important factor, community members may also wish to comment on sustainability, equitable sharing of resources and opportunities for growth in the government or not-for-profit sector.

“All of those views would contribute to a balanced, inclusive strategy.”

Councillor Cassell said, “Council’s economic strategy is an opportunity for our city to thrive within our ecological boundaries, while leaving no one behind.

“I would encourage our community to call for an economic strategy that thinks beyond business as usual and asks how do we measure and provide for a safe and just future for our LGA’s people and ecology.

“Our local economy is currently experiencing significant challenges due to a range of disruptive forces that requires us to build long term resilience.

“I believe how we meet the economic challenges of today requires a more inclusive, localised, innovative, resilient and agile economy.”

He also said that, while Council’s draft strategy does embrace innovative ideas such as small lot agriculture, its business framework seems to inadequately measure how rising social inequality is remedied and how the climate and biodiversity emergency is handled.

Mr Cassell said other truly regenerative economic models exist, such as the ‘Doughnut’ economic model, that aim to significantly reduce our impact on the planet, increase our care for each other while maintaining economic sustainability and are very much worth considering.

Councillor Townley said, “The plan recognises the importance of our natural environment to residents and visitors, but our region faces significant challenges with regard to waterway health, loss of native vegetation, our koala population and our fragile coastline.

“Protection of these important assets is vital for our biodiversity and also drives economic benefit.

“People are attracted to Coffs because of the beautiful environment so economic strategies should recognise and value the importance of nature,” she said.

While they have a variety of perspectives, each of the Councillors shares a common goal – to make the Economic Strategy as inclusive and representative of the community as possible, and they urge interested members of the Coffs community to have their say on the economic future of our region.

The draft Strategy is available for comment on Council’s Have Your Say website until Monday 25 July.

By Andrew VIVIAN

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