Regional communities know what they want for their future and government needs to empower them to make those decision, federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said.
The Labor leader said he was interested in exploring ideas like discretionary funding for regional communities that know what they need to do.
“Obviously, whenever we use Commonwealth money there has to be taxpayer accountability but communities have solutions. So the more that we can listen to people rather than dictate to people the better,” he said.
“Let’s have a competition of ideas, but real on-the-ground ideas.”
“Tasmania has a strong, positive story to tell. They just need some selective support to help move things along.”
Labor is developing policy for the next federal election and Mr Shorten and federal Braddon MP Justine Keay met with business and community leaders in Burnie on Friday to discuss their ideas and concerns.
“What I want to do at the next election is to be able to outline what we (Labor) thinks about the North-West Coast for the next 10 years,” Mr Shorten said.
“This country goes forward not when there’s just three big cities on the east-coast of Australia. It goes forward when the regions are strong.”
“You can’t have metropolitan Australia without regional Australia and I think frankly you’ve got some competitive strengths here that are good for the whole nation.”
Manufacturing, the expansion of the tourism industry, apprenticeships, penalty rates and the challenges of attracting skilled workers to the region were some of the issues brought up at the meeting.
One theme to dominate discussion was education and whether TAFE was keeping pace with the rapid changes of industry.
Paul Struzaker, advanced manufacturing manager of the Tasmanian Mineral and Energy Council, said there’s currently “an industrial revolution in regards to technology in trades”.
“We have to be smarter about how we train our people for the future because if Tasmania is to compete globally we have to build how we train our tradespeople.”
Tasmanian Mineral and Energy Council hosted the roundtable discussion.