Nov 26

The region’s government and business leaders will explore how the Sunshine Coast can play to its strengths in the post-COVID recovery phase, at the fifth annual Combined Government & Business Forum at USC’s Innovation Centre today.

The event — which is hosted by the Sunshine Coast Business Council — will be attended by over 60 leaders including the majority of regional councillors, state and federal politicians and representatives from many of the most influential businesses and largest employers in the region.

Sunshine Coast Business Council Chair Sandy Zubrinich said the forum was of particular importance this year given the unexpected challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of subsequent government-lockdowns and restrictions.

“This year the theme is ‘Playing to our Strengths’ and we are delighted to have one of Australia’s most respected business voices, CEO of the Business Council of Australia Ms Jennifer Westacott to open and address the forum as our keynote speaker,” said Ms Zubrinich.

“Ms Westacott will share BCA’s vision to build a stronger Australia post-pandemic and her thoughts will be well timed for this forum. We certainly had an unexpected 2020 which has set huge economic challenges for states and regions for 2021 to focus firmly on recovery and jobs.”

The Business Council of Australia Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said the opportunity exists now to invest in our places, to get our industry policy right, play to our strengths and unleash the next 30 years of growth.

“Places are where people bring their kids up, go to work and it’s where their identity is forged,” Ms Westacott said.

“In Australia, places are hugely important, particularly in your state. But sadly, we’ve often let our places down, especially in regional Australia.

“Here on the Sunshine Coast you are ideally placed to leverage your strengths.”

Ms Zubrinich said the forum would provide an opportunity for government and councils to share their strategies to address the economic challenges in the years ahead in order to build a stronger Sunshine Coast.

“It has never been more important for our political and business leaders to collaborate given the challenges we face going into 2021 and beyond,” said Ms Zubrinich.

“This recovery will be a marathon rather than a sprint and if we are not aligned in our approach and supporting each other to maximise the outcomes, the road ahead will be even longer.”

The agenda also includes presentations from Andrew Wallace MP, Ted O’Brien MP, Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson, Noosa Mayor Clare Stewart and with business represented through SCBC Treasurer Bridget Murphy, Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia Chris Mountford and the CEO of the Sunshine Coast Airport, Andrew Brodie as well as two Q&A panels.

“I encourage those attending to take the opportunity to interrogate points raised in the presentations during the Q&A sessions,” said Ms Zubrinich.

“The spirit of these forums in the past has been energised and sometimes feisty, but all with the same intent – to build a stronger region.”

The Combined Government & Business Forum will be held at the USC Innovation Centre from midday on Thursday, 26 November. Attendance is by invitation only.

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