While Business NSW Central Coast has welcomed the Federal Budget, Regional Director Paula Martin says it is now time to focus on the recovery of the region post-lockdowns.
“This is a ‘steady as you go’ budget, signalling the conclusion of a pandemic supported fiscal situation and we are now starting to see programs and initiatives about recovery,” Martin said.
“The infrastructure spend is a good start, especially the $1B investment in faster rail for the region – anything that shortens the time frame for commuters improves their health and wellbeing (and) one of benefits we saw out of the pandemic was that many locals were working from home and spending locally.
Martin said reducing the cost of living for locals as announced in the Budget was also good news, but that more needs to be done to reinvigorate the waterfront at Gosford and to reinvigorate the night-time economy.
“We need a focus on reinvigorating the CBD to foster job growth – we need to see programs and investment opportunities for businesses to grow,” she said.
“Breaking down the red tape around development would help and we need to get more serious about skilled migration as well as upskilling our local workers.”
Martin said job vacancies in the region were around 800-900 pre-pandemic but were now close to 1,800.
“The tourism and hospitality sectors have been missing out on seasonal workers,” she said.
Martin said the housing shortage also needed to be addressed.
“It is very difficult for local businesses to expand if their people have nowhere to live,” she said.
“The further we push locals out of region because of housing affordability the more it impacts on health and wellbeing.”
Martin said with the Coast being largely a tourist economy, more programs needed to be introduced to encourage tourism activity.