PREPOLL: Early voting for the Federal Election has opened in Coffs Harbour at 48 Harbour Drive. Here’s some issues to consider prior to voting. Photo:Trevor Veale

The date has been set, Australia Votes 18 May 2019… and every player wants your vote! For the first time in 18 years, the seat of Cowper will have a new face in Federal Politics!

The Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce held a ‘Meet the Candidates’ members breakfast forum last week to find out who the candidates are and a little more about each of them.

The Chamber is passionate about improving the business conditions, opportunities, and economic benefit of our members (small, medium & large businesses), their staff, and the broader community.

A number of questions were presented by the Chamber and from the floor to each of the candidates relating to real issues affecting the community and many businesses today – the high rate of youth unemployment, skills shortages, infrastructure spending in this region to create job opportunities locally to name a few.

The Chamber is lobbying hard for a number of key economic opportunities for the Coffs Coast to increase visitation, jobs, and business sustainability as a thriving business community equals a thriving community.

Here is what our members and the Chamber have on our ‘to-do’ list which an effective Federal representative can deliver, and which in turn will deliver a thriving local economy and business environment

The Chamber’s seven key points are:

  • Commitment and funding of Stage 2 Allied Health building at Southern Cross University (just $20-million to exponentially improve the tertiary education available to our local school leavers, and to attract external students/families to the city)
  • Further decentralisation of Federal departments to the Coffs Coast (recent announcement of 50 AMSA jobs is welcome however there is much more opportunity) to open up more job opportunities to locals.
  • Extension of “fast-rail” network Northern corridor to terminate at Coffs Harbour (not Port Macquarie) to facilitate faster and more economical travel to the Coffs region for visitors and families.
  • Commitment to scuttle one of several naval vessels being de-commissioned off Coffs Harbour to supplement and grow the eco-tourism benefits our beautiful region has available. This would create a marine life sanctuary and dive site. This was 100% supported by every candidate at the State election including Greens, Shooters Fishers & Farmers, The Nationals, and independents
  • Commitment to work with Coffs Harbour City Council and the Chamber to create a City Deal that will enhance our region through transport, infrastructure, technology.
  • Commitment to extend the runway at Coffs Harbour Airport and dedicate Border Force and Quarantine staff to facilitate international status for local exports and inbound tourism/sporting events.
  • Enhanced commitment to apprenticeship training, business tax off-sets and wage subsidies to generate more job opportunities for our local youth unemployment crisis

Who will step up and be counted?

Who will deliver for the Coffs Coast?

Who will cut the spin and deliver realities?

Who will give Coffs Harbour the representation we require and deserve?

Only time will tell, but we encourage you to be informed and get out and hear what the candidates have to say ahead of the election on May 18.