History will affirm that this has been an extraordinary period and a year unlike any other we have experienced before. We have witnessed catastrophic events and an ongoing economic crisis across the world precipitated by successive waves of the COVID 19 Pandemic. As a Nation and more particularly as a State we have had lower transmission rates and impacts and fortunately have been able to cope better that many other States and Countries around us. Despite this, the global impact continues, and we remain vigilant and cautious of the potential dangers and economic consequences that still lie ahead of us.
We have certainly learned new things, been exposed to strange terminology, rapidly discovered ways to pivot and address problems, and to do things differently in a post COVID world! If there is to be an upside to this crisis, then it surely must draw on this resolve and tenacity to deal with and solve a problem. The road to recovery presents several opportunities for us, as a Nation and also as a State, to address the importance of securing strategic and essential goods and services locally. Locally sourced and locally produced needs to be at the centre of our focus in rebuilding our national manufacturing capability and capacity to ensure greater self-sufficiency. Our region is particularly well placed and resourced to draw on our extensive primary industry capability and extensive agriculture potential to be able to deliver and meet these needs.
The BGCCI have developed sound working relationships with several local councils and continue to engage with and share opportunities in regular meetings with their senior officials. We have also worked with all the Local Governments of Bunbury Geographe in supporting and planning regional economic development, infrastructure and community development initiatives in our region. Our region needs a stronger, more cooperative and cohesive shared platform to endorse and drive the strategic investment decisions and priority initiatives that will attract key development partners to create the growth and sustainable jobs for a viable future. The BGCCI and the combined business associations have also had discussions on more constructive ways to cooperate, share resources and deliver cohesive services for our regional businesses to address the economic circumstances and challenges that lie ahead of all of us.
The Regional Chambers of Commerce and Industry have embraced the Federal initiatives and economic stimulus packages that have been provided and welcome the recent release of our State’s $5.5 billion WA Recovery Plan which is focussed on delivering long-term economic and social outcomes and getting West Australians back to work. This investment is targeted at creating thousands of local jobs in important sectors such as construction and manufacturing, mining, agriculture, tourism and hospitality, education and training, and the renewable energy and conservation sectors.
Our Regional Business Associations and Industry Leaders will need to champion this economic recovery agenda and map our paths to deliver both short term and longer-term solutions to strengthen and enhance our primary industries and develop the potential local secondary industry manufacturing and processing opportunities that are currently being conducted offshore. The need to build our National Pride and Resilience and for our Think Local – Stay Local – Grow Local – Build and Produce Local – Support Local – Buy Local campaigns to take traction and succeed has never been more important and relevant.
I have been fortunate to be supported by an engaged Executive Committee who continue to volunteer their valuable time and experience in supporting and promoting the various activities, events and functions of our CCI. The majority of our committee have agreed to be re-nominated for the year ahead so we will be able to continue quickly and progress the projects and initiatives in play and address the challenges that lie ahead of us. Thank you to the departing members Bernice Butlion, Brian Rulyancich and Jason Shaw for their contribution and support of the BGCCI.
I recognise the tremendous work and efforts of our combined team and thank our CEO and Staff who have worked throughout this year and especially during the restrictive trade periods to provide the services, guidance and support many of our members needed to survive this crisis. Our collective Federal and State stakeholders and the Regional Chambers of Commerce and Industry have all worked together to address the significant challenges we face in dealing with this Pandemic and mapping the road to recovery. There are still a significant number of our members, industries and sectors who are being impacted and we will continue to support and help them wherever we are able to do so.
Thank you for the ongoing and tremendous support of our Partners, Sponsors, Corporate Hosts and Stakeholders who continue to allow us to provide the facilities, services and support required to adequately represent our business community. In the current economic crisis this is even more relevant, so we recognise that as a membership-based business association we can only afford and provide these services and resources with the ongoing support of our members and sponsors. Thank you for your support and contributions.
We look forward to the challenges of the year ahead and remain committed that together we will succeed, be able to recover and build a better and brighter future for us all.
19 August 2020