State Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford had a simple message for the hundreds of delegates present at Thursday night’s Regional Assembly at the All Seasons Hotel.
“You know best.”
In launching the assembly, the second following a similar meeting in Bendigo in October last year, Ms Pulford said she and her fellow ministers were there to step out of the limelight and listen to the concerns of communities in the region.
“You know better than we do what's best for your region and you’re best placed to determine your priorities and your future,” she said.
“We’re here to listen and then we’ll be taking all this back and putting it into action.”
Ms Pulford said the government had been getting on with implementing the recommendations from last year’s assembly, including increased train services on the Bendigo and Echuca line, and would take similar decisive action on the ideas spawned at this year’s conference.
“It wasn’t one of those things where you turn up and everybody talks and the ideas all get put on a bit of paper and put in a cupboard somewhere, what happened next was a phenomenal amount of work with all the capability of the Victorian government and all out colleagues very closely monitoring this and the regional partnership driving the agenda,” she said.
“The things that you tell us tonight we will act on and we will act on them quickly.”
Regional partnership chair Nigel McGuckian agreed the government had responded “strongly” to the previous assembly and said he expected that momentum to continue after Thursday night’s assembly.
“Tonight is about building on last year’s assembly and further developing the best ideas for our region,” he said.
“We’re now at the point of saying ‘We’ve built a really solid foundation with it, now let’s take that further, we’re going to look for real ways to solve problems together with our communities’.”
Mr McGuckian said information gathered via recent workshops in Echuca and Castlemaine would feed into the night’s discussions and inform the assembly’s new proposals.