Senator’s listening tour to provide Sunshine Coast business feedback to Canberra

22 September, 2020
Author: Charles Hodgson

How the Sunshine Coast economy is coping with the impacts of COVID-19 and its business response will be in the spotlight as Senator Gerard Rennick makes a special visit to the Sunshine Coast Business Council lunch at USC today (Tuesday 22 September).

Sunshine Coast Business Council Chair Sandy Zubrinich said this is a great opportunity for businesses to hear from the Senator and to chat about real issues that are impacting the region’s economy.

The Queensland Senator will have the opportunity to connect with business people regarding tax and industrial relations reform, addressing red tape at state and federal levels, the proposed overhaul of tertiary education and managing the rebuilding of the Sunshine Coast economy following the impacts of Covid-19.

“We appreciate these opportunities to connect with higher government and have them listen to what’s impacting the region and hopefully take that information back to Canberra to be addressed,” Ms Zubrinich said.

“Mr Rennick tours regional areas like the Sunshine Coast as a fact-finding mission so this is our chance to get answers but also tell our story about what is working for our economy and where we need investment.

“There has been a great deal of change in our economy this year and while the full extent of the impact of COVID-19 hasn’t yet been revealed, we are all working together to position the region to recover as we come out of Covid.  SCBC has chaired four Zoom sessions bringing regional politicians and industry leaders together to discuss the state of the regional economy and its industries.  The fifth session is being held on Friday 18 September and will be timely to feed into the lunch discussion with the Senator. 

“Senator Rennick’s platform places a strong emphasis on the importance of regional and rural Australia in the nation’s economy and we are grateful for the opportunity to share our views on the importance of regional Australia getting our fair share of government services and funding.”

Senator Rennick said he is looking forward to having robust conversations about what is needed to support the Sunshine Coast economy to drive job creation. 

“Small business is the backbone of the Australian economy. I will have the opportunity to hear from the coalface on how Sunshine Coast businesses are coping following the Coronavirus downturn,” Senator Rennick said.

“The Morrison Government has established a clear framework to gradually remove baseline restrictions to enable Australians to live in a COVID-19 safe environment and return to work.

“On the other side of the virus, we will need economic policy measures that are pro-growth, encourage employment and enable businesses to invest.

“We want to reduce the cost of doing business, build the infrastructure our economy needs to grow and equip Australians with the skills they need to get a job and get the nation out of these economic tough times.”

The Senator will tour the USC campus during his visit and discuss the Job-Ready Graduate Package which is expected to add a further $400 million into regional higher education.

The proposed package will create 100,000 new university places by 2030 and produce more job-ready graduates with work relevant qualifications in fields that reflect Australia’s expected economic, industry and employment growth.

“We know demand for higher education increases during economic slowdowns and students seek job relevant skills to help them enter and re-enter the workforce,” Senator Rennick said.

“The new arrangements will support the increased demand from school leavers and provide more options for upskilling and reskilling workers who have lost jobs due to COVID-19.”

Ms Zubrinich said that education was a key industry that the Sunshine Coast needs to foster through USC as well as TAFE.

“While there are some concerns about the new package and increases in fees for some degrees and courses, it is promising to see the government seeing value in industries like nursing, agriculture, STEM and IT and making it more accessible for students,” Ms Zubrinich said.

The Sunshine Coast Business Council lunch is a private event. For more information on the council and membership enquiries, visit