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Williamson, Hogan spruik economic upturn

Clarence Valley Council’s mayor, Richie Williamson, and federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan have shared their optimism, following the release of the council’s quarterly Clarence Valley Economic Monitor. Citing information within the December quarter report by Lawrence Consulting, the mayor says in a media release that “the figures were fantastic and showed increasing confidence in the region and its future”. Meanwhile Kevin Hogan told his fellow parliamentarians in a constituency statement that “the latest economic figures on the Clarence Valley show some promising trends, and that is before the majority of the benefits of the over $7 billion upgrade of the Pacific Highway between Ballina and Woolgoolga fully kicks in”. “The latest research has found that in the last financial year the Clarence Valley’s gross regional product was $2.6 billion. That represented an annual growth rate of 13.1 per cent in real terms,” Mr Hogan said. Mayor Williamson said employment grew by more than 1500 jobs in the 2014-15 financial year, and that there was substantial growth in the number of dwelling approvals (up 58.7per cent to 200) and the value of non-residential approvals (up 498per cent to $30.2 million) over the year to the December quarter 2015. He said the performance of the Clarence Valley’s economy was put in “sharp perspective when compared with the neighbouring councils contained in the monitor”. “They show the gross regional product in the Clarence Valley growing at 13.1per cent while all neighbouring councils were negative, ranging from -7.5per cent to -14.3per cent,” he said. “It shows our annual average growth over five years at 5.5 per cent, while all others were negative. Mayor Williamson said the report showed that the agricultural, rental/hire, financial and professional sectors accounted for most of the growth in gross regional product. “The other areas with high growth rates were arts and recreation services, public administration and safety, and financial and insurance services,” he said. “But it was also very encouraging to see close to a 50 per cent increase in retail trade in the 2014/15 financial year.” On the negative side, Clarence Valley’s per capita income was among the lowest of the region’s other local government areas (LGAs), Ballina, Lismore, Tweed, Richmond Valley, Byron and Kyogle at $17,939 (an annual growth of 3.9 per cent). Byron was the highest at $26,053 (7.4 per cent) and Kyogle was the lowest at $15,039 (2.5 per cent). The valley’s average wage and salary income was $45,005, which was near the middle when compared to the other LGAs, as was the growth percentage. These figures, however, measure changes from the 2005/06 to 2012/13 years. Mr Hogan went on to tell the parliament, in part: “Farmers are also telling me that prices are on the up for them in a whole variety of things; cattle, dairy, blueberries, sugar and macas are all getting higher prices than they once were. “We as a government are also doing our bit to ensure this growth continues. Last December I announced a grant of $4.15 million to upgrade the Harwood Mill and Refinery under the Australian government’s National Stronger Regions Fund. More than 2,000 jobs exist because of the Harwood mill — this obviously includes direct jobs at mill, as well as the growers, the carters, and a lot of associated jobs. “This grant means not only that these jobs are more secure but also that the mill can now focus on growth to create more jobs. “It is a massive investment in the future of the industry, which will directly benefit any employer associated with the mill, including all small businesses in the region.”