The NSW Treasurer must include business leaders from Wollongong and the Illawarra in his economic crisis summit, according to Member for Wollongong, Paul Scully.
Mr Scully said that only someone with blinkers on would think that the downturn in retail activity on the back of a more than 13 per cent collapse in household spending in the June quarter has no impact beyond Sydney CBD.
“This is not a recession that ends at Pitt Street, Sydney.
“Crown Street and other retail precincts in the Illawarra are feeling the impact too,” Mr Scully said.
“Wollongong is the third largest city in NSW and businesses in the Illawarra should be at the table in any discussions about how we are going to get the state out of this economic hole”, he said.
Mr Scully said that local economic conditions highlighted the need for the Berejiklian Government to take the needs of large regional centres and their economies just as seriously as it is seeking an economic recovery in Sydney CBD.
“In July youth unemployment in the Illawarra hit 17.6 per cent, the second highest rate in NSW, and almost 6 per cent above the state average.
“General unemployment levels in July were also well above the NSW average”, he said.
Mr Scully said that the local economy will be further affected by a:
- Downturn in mining activity, both locally and in other parts of Australia impacting on direct employment and mining service providers;
- Border closures and restrictions on the return of students to the University and TAFE;
- The conclusion of local construction projects;
- Reduced import volumes through Port Kembla port; and
- NSW Government-funded infrastructure projects not prioritising the use of locally produced steel.
“Retail trade is the third largest employing sector in Wollongong so if there is a crisis summit on what to do to support retail in Sydney, the NSW Treasurer has to have Wollongong business leaders involved in the summit too.
“Ignoring our needs is only likely to end in a longer and deeper downturn in local economic activity which will kill confidence and cost local jobs”, Mr Scully said.