PREMIER Denis Napthine outlined a picture of a populous and prosperous Bendigo in an address to a Bendigo Business Council lunch today.
More than 100 Bendigo business people attended the lunch where Dr Napthine said Bendigo had “a great history and an even brighter future”.
Dr Napthine said the State Government wanted to grow Bendigo’s population, its economic opportunities and quality of life, and its strategy to do this was based on infrastructure.
“Our strategy is to improve key infrastructure like the hospital development, like the art gallery development, the theatre development and the library development,” Dr Napthine said.
“We also want to work with industry like Hazeldene’s, like Thales and with the industrial estate in this area so we can invest in key infrastructure in industries that grow jobs and opportunities.”
Dr Napthine said the government was investing in key infrastructure like the Regional Rail Link, the Calder Highway interchange at Ravenswood which had been a black-spot for more than 10 years.
”We want to make sure we are putting in place things that are creating jobs in themselves, and which create a stronger, more vibrant city to attract investment and jobs.”
The free public Wi-Fi trial he announced yesterday was also building opportunities, Dr Napthine said.
“We want population growth, we want economic growth, we want quality of life growth, and we as a government have a strategy of investing in key infrastructure and key job creation opportunities.
“We are using our Regional Growth Fund, we are using $500 million to upgrade the airport so we can deliver those outcomes for Bendigo.”
Dr Napthine said the government’s Food into Asia plan was relevant to agricultural industry in the region.
“Over the next 10, 20 years demand for clean green food into Asia is going to increase massively as the consumer class increases in those areas – China, India and south-east Asia.
“Victoria is well placed as a supplier of clean, green safe and very very delicious foods.
“So there are opportunities for fresh food and packaged foods into Asia from Victoria, and the Bendigo region is very much a part of that.”
Dr Napthine said Victoria was recently host to the largest number of food buyers in a trade mission from Asia, when 250 Asian buyers visited Mildura, Swan Hill and Goulburn Valley meeting with growers and suppliers.
The inbound trade mission also had 50 specialist wine buyers “who were exposed to the great wines of the Bendigo Heathcote area.
“These are things we are doing, both trade missions from Victoria and bringing buyers into Victoria, to create those links and opportunities to increase exports of our quality food and wine into these growing markets.”
The Bendigo Business Council lunch was part of the Premier’s two-day visit to Bendigo. He also visited the hospital site and conducted a walking and talking tour of Bendigo.