The Member for Maribyrnong, Bill Shorten, today launched LeadWest’s strategic plan for Melbourne’s western suburbs up to 2016.
Mr Shorten praised LeadWest for its long term vision and recognition of the enormous potential of the West to be a growth hot spot in the future.
“I heartily endorse LeadWest’s core principle that everyone in our region should have the same opportunities in education, employment, health and recreation no matter their background or where they live,” Mr Shorten said.
“I also believe that too much of our attention is captured by the 24 hour news cycle, and all Australians, including the people of the western suburbs, are interested in what the next 20 or 30 years will look like.”
Mr Shorten said that Melbourne’s West faces many challenges, but represents major opportunity as well.
“Population growth in Melbourne’s West has quadrupled over the past decade. It now comprises 13.4% of Victoria’s population, and by 2031 will have more than 1.1 million residents.
“The average age here is 34 and we have over 100 nationalities in the West, meaning we have a young, vibrant and diverse workforce.
“That shows that this area represents opportunity. People see good things for them, their lives, their families, in this Western region of Melbourne.
“But we also have challenges; the demand for labour doesn’t necessarily match supply and it is vitally important that we equip our workforce with skills to allow them to get and keep a good job.
“There are also challenges in the manufacturing sector, a need for infrastructure to support the population, and challenges with transport and congestion.
“Growth in itself cannot be relied upon to be good, and it is up to leadership to make sure that in the path to growth we do not lose the liveability, the quality of life that is an important aspiration for people in the West.”
The Western Agenda sets a series of targets for the western region, including lifting school retention rates, increasing employment and business investment, improving infrastructure including rail crossing, lines and stations, and protecting the environment.
It finds that responsibility for reaching these targets is shared between all levels of government, business, education and health providers, and the community.
Contact: Jayne Edwards 9326 1300 / 0410 455 737