THIS year’s Westpac Economic Breakfast has delivered some good news for Geelong, with the bank’s chief economist Bill Evans upbeat about the region’s future.
The annual event organised by the Geelong Chamber of Commerce as part of the Geelong Small Business Festival draws a big crowd each year, and this time was attended by nearly 300 people in the new location of GMHBA Stadium.
Mr Evans said Australia had the highest annual population growth rate in the world, Victoria’s rate was higher than that, and Geelong’s rate was higher still – about 2.7 per cent annually, driven mostly by housing affordability.
“The Geelong story is a really great story.
“Last year you had an increase of about 7,000 people – more than half of that was people relocating
from within Victoria, and only about one-and-a-half thousand was migrants. In Melbourne, 60 per cent of their growth is migrants.
“When I think about your physical location just outside of Melbourne, lower house prices, fabulous transport, and Melbourne being the growth capital of Australia, you couldn’t be better positioned.
“The luck of where you’re positioned is incredibly important and I can see it in the optimism that I see every year when I come along here.”
Mr Evans also spent some time talking about the financial significance of the coming federal election.
“Businesses are nervous about any political risk, and what it’s done in the past couple of elections is show up as a collapse in jobs growth around those elections,” he said.
“My worry is that one of the assumptions that everybody is making is that the strong jobs growth – which is already slowing down, because it just wasn’t sustained at three-and-a-half per cent – my worry is that political uncertainty is going to weigh on those jobs.”
He said the election would not be like previous federal polls, as Labor’s policies on issues such as company tax and franking credits gave it a $180 billion “warchest” over the next 10 years that the Coalition did not have and a clear point of difference.
“The issue (for the Coalition) is what they’re (Labor) going to do with that money.”