By Nick Sinis

BASS Coast businesses and organisations received a welcome visit by Liberal Senator for Victoria Jane Hume last Tuesday, June 29.

Accompanying Senator Hume was Monash MP Russell Broadbent, Bass Coast councillors and other distinguished guests who spent the day touring the shire.

The topics of discussion included the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses, and how the recovery has led to a mini-boom in regional communities.

The tour started with a visit to Inverloch beach with the local surf lifesaving club to inspect and discuss the coastal erosion in the Bass Coast region.

This was followed by a visit to Inverloch CBD, where hospitality operators discussed outdoor dining issues and trade post-COVID.

In Wonthaggi, Senator Hume was given a grand tour of Coldon Homes and their factory site.

Speaking with the Senator was the company’s managing director Keith Donohue, who spoke about issues of building supplies and apprentice shortages.

“An area that has been highlighted is the lack of appropriately skilled trades and that starts with apprentices,” Mr Donohue said.

“All of the opinion has been there is a lack of acknowledgement of apprentices over the years.

“We really believe in promoting apprenticeships and trades as a worthwhile career.

“And I think that’s possibly an area where the federal government could assist.”

Moving on, the group stopped by Bass Coast Country Universities Centre, which opened in March this year and is funded by the federal government.

Mum of three Patrisha Tayler, who uses the facility to study as she completes her Bachelor of Education Studies at Victoria University, told the Senator of the many benefits it has provided.

Monash MP Russell Broadbent said the centre has been going from strength to strength.

“It was great to sit down and speak with one of the current students at the Country Universities Centre, and discuss how the university centre supports regional learning and the community,” he said.

“There was some very effective feedback for Jane Hume to gauge the response of businesses in this part of Gippsland to the government’s COVID-19 recovery plan.”

And to finish off the day, the group was treated to a delicious lunch and tour at the National Vietnam Veterans Museum on Phillip Island.

The museum had received a federal grant to purchase land for a new site, and general manager Phil Dressing shared a presentation on the museum’s future plans.

“Our planning application is before council, and we are meeting in July for a briefing meeting with councillors on our new development,” Mr Dressing said.

“All of that process is one of the pathways.

“The other pathway is funding and at this point we’re reviewing our funding strategy.

“We missed out on requested funding in the Victorian Budget this year.

“So, we’re reviewing our fundraising strategy on the basis that we’re likely to get money out of the Victorian government for next year’s budget.

“Which means we really need to do our lobbying now.

“She (Senator Hume) was very sympathetic and really quite ‘chuffed’ with what she found.”

Bass Coast Shire Council Mayor Cr Brett Tessari added he was delighted to have Senator Hume visit.

“Anytime you can have a Minister in your shire for five to six hours as well as your local representative talking about issues that we’re facing, is always a fantastic opportunity,” Cr Tessari said.

“We thank Russell and Minister Hume for taking the time to be in our area for so long.”