Victorian jobs and industries at risk after decision toimport steel for Victorian wind farm
Media Release, Tuesday, 23 February 2020

The Committee for Portland is calling on the state and federal governments to introduce measures to encourage the use of local suppliers after it was revealed a multinational company will import steel for a wind farm in western Victoria.

The decision to use imported steel for its $360 million wind farm at Ryan’s Corner ahead of the local product from Portland’s Keppel Prince Engineering is devastating to the local community and industry, putting more than 150 jobs at risk.

More job losses are expected if the state and federal governments do not step in to protect local manufacturers.

The committee is calling for the Federal Government to mandate Australian content in major projects like the wind farm, which will supply power to the government’s Snowy Hydro 2.0 scheme.

They also want the State Government to offer greater certainty over the introduction of Victoria’s Renewable Energy Targets for local industries working towards greater environmental sustainability.

Committee for Portland Deputy Chair John Weichert says it is crucial for the state and federal governments to support local businesses by introducing firmer measures through its power purchase agreements and renewable energy targets.

“Australia needs sovereign manufacturing for the long term and the government must make changes now to ensure these industries survive,” he says.

“Our local businesses are committed to the social and environmental sustainability of the regions in which they operate and they should have the support of the government to ensure they are the first choice for local projects, especially where the government is involved in the purchase of the end product.”

The decision to import the steel is yet another blow for the region already left reeling after China banned imports of timber and crayfish from the region in 2020, leading to losses of more than $100 million to the fishing and timber industries in western Victoria.

“A lot of Victorian, and Australian, businesses are suffering from the impact of the pandemic and the trade bans, so it is vital that the government does everything it can to protect local businesses and keep Australian manufacturing alive,” Mr Weichert says.

To Arrange Interviews

Contact Fleur Morrison on 0421 118 233, or email

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Letter to Premier re COVID19 Response
22 February 2021

The Hon Daniel Andrews MP
Premier of Victoria1 Treasury Place

Dear Premier
As peak bodies representing a significant number of businesses across regional Victoria, we write asking the Government to consider more directly the needs of regional Victoria in its future COVID-19 responses.

Our comments come in response to the recent five-day state-wide shutdown.
Our members come from regional Victoria which represents approximately 25% of the State’s population and the regional economy which accounts for approximately 21% of the State’s overall economy.

The COVID-19 pandemic will be with us for some time and we recognise the significant health threat it poses. We acknowledge the Victorian Government’s efforts and the sacrifices all Victorians have made to beat the ‘second wave’ of the virus, an outcome rarely achieved in the world.

We also acknowledge the recent five-day state-wide ‘Circuit Breaker’ was imposed to prevent a third wave and the potential for further catastrophic health and economic impacts.

We now urge the Government to reflect deeply on the implementation of the ‘Circuit Breaker’ and prepare a comprehensive plan for any further ‘shutdowns’ that may be necessary in the months ahead of us.

As leaders in regional Victoria representing business, there are a number of key learnings we ask the government to consider:

• A more nuanced approach when shutting down areas and regions

A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach may have been necessary given the presence of the uncertainty of the UK strain of the virus, but a total shutdown of the economy cannot be the only answer if we are to live with some levels of the virus in the community into the future.

Businesses and livelihoods suffer unnecessarily when a state-wide shutdown is imposed and the impact of this is disproportional when considering metropolitan, regional and rural areas.

We note and recognise the State Government’s Roadmaps to Recovery through 2020 included one for Metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. We believe a similar approach is warranted for 2021 and beyond as required.

• Greater clarity and consistency must be provided on the restrictions imposed at each stage. This most recent shutdown saw different stage four restrictions apply than was previously the case in 2020. This caused confusion and added further stress to business and the community.

There are many examples of the lack of clarity and consistency and we urge the Government to define in detail the various stages of restrictions as part of their planning for any further outbreaks. Such a plan will give business greater confidence and enable them to prepare more fully.

• Relevant departments must be better equipped to handle the enquiries of business and the community

Formal channels for communication through various government agencies have not been able to provide answers to the questions business has had, both when the restrictions were announced and when they were eased.

The lack of timely information, incorrect and inaccurate information erodes confidence in Government, enhances uncertainty and adds yet another burden to businesses across the state.

• Greater clarity for border communities

In developing further plans for possible shutdowns, the unique nature of border communities must be considered fully.

Businesses in border regions have suffered and their capacity to remain competitive in their markets has been compromised.

We welcome the announcement of the State Government’s Circuit Breaker Package providing an additional $143 million to support those businesses most impacted by the shutdown.

The business communities we represent are very much a part of the entire Victorian community and want to ensure the health and the economic interests of Victoria can be assured as we face the on-going challenges of COVID-19.

We seek a constructive relationship with the Government in relation to the issues that are unique to regional Victoria.

Regional Victoria is a key contributor to the state’s economy and its social fabric. We believe our voice can assist government as it leads the State’s fight against the virus.

With greater clarity of the range of restriction levels, a more nuanced response to outbreaks and more consistent, accurate and timely communication, we can all continue to improve our management of and our fight against the impacts of this virus.

Your sincerely

Michael Poulton, Jodie Gillett, Iain Gunn,
Chief Executive Officer, Chief Executive Officer Chair, Committee for Ballarat, Commerce Ballarat, Ballarat Regional Tourism

on behalf of the following organisations

  • Committee for Echuca-Moama
  • Apollo Bay Chamber of Commerce and Tourism
  • Committee for Geelong
  • Be Bendigo
  • Committee for Greater Shepparton
  • Business Horsham
  • Committee for Portland
  • Business Wodonga
  • Colac & District Chamber of Commerce
  • Geelong Chamber of Commerce
  • Hamilton Regional Business Association
  • Lakes Entrance Business & Tourism Association
  • Port Fairy and Region Tourism

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Tickets On Sale For Trails Launch Event
Media Release, Wednesday, 03 February 2021

The TRAILS Sculpture Exhibition is an inaugural event for Portland, encouraging 3D artists to submit work for prizes totalling $10,000 and providing an Art Trail for locals and visitors to enjoy over a period of 5 weeks by visiting retail shop windows displaying the creations of the 40 finalists.

Artist talks and workshops by five local artists will also feature throughout the exhibition period.

Program Co-ordinator, Robyn McDonald, is encouraging people to go online and book their tickets. “This is a unique opportunity to showcase our local artists alongside regional and national talent, while the launch event will be a chance to celebrate art as integral to our mental health and wellbeing.” Ms McDonald said.

The event will commence at Julia St Creative Space from 2pm on Sunday March 28. Patrons will be provided with a trail map of exhibition locations and hosting venues, where food and drinks will be provided, in order to complete the circuit.

Ticket numbers are capped to ensure Covid safe practices are maintained at all venues and locations. The three-hour event will allow patrons time to move through the exhibition at their leisure and avoid queueing.

Applications to exhibit at the event are still open until Friday February 12 with further information available at the event website,

Tickets for the launch can be purchased on line at

Background Note

The TRAILS Creative Arts Group is a collective of volunteers, auspiced by the Committee for Portland, who are passionate about promoting creative art to the broader community

To Arrange Interviews, contact:

Robyn McDonald on 0438233841, or email

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Portland Gift Card launching in time for Christmas
Media Release, Friday, 20 November 2020

In conjunction with Why Leave Town, the Committee for Portland is rolling out Portland’s very own gift card. Off the back of a very successful Love Your Local Campaign, Committee for Board Member, Jon Dennis, felt the need to keep the momentum going in the lead up to Christmas. “With the establishment of our Small Business Network, we wanted to support local businesses by introducing a product that guarantees money stay local”.

Why Leave Town have rolled out gift cards in 50 different communities across 130 postcodes in Australia. When a customer purchases a Portland Gift Card, the holder can buy goods in any participating store that’s part of the program. Cards cannot be used outside of the participating shops. This means that every time one of the cards is purchased, the money stays local. The gift cards can be used more than once, across multiple stores, and are the perfect gift for those ‘hard to buy for’ friends and family members especially in the lead up to Christmas.

Businesses are encouraged to registered on the Why Leave Town Website to be part of the program. “We are trying to get as many people as possible to registered so that when people buy these cards at participating stores or online, they can redeem them at a variety of locations across the CBD”, Mr. Dennis said.

Contact Information

Jon Dennis,
Fran Lovell,

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Committee for Portland supports regional sculpture prize
Media Release, Friday, 20 November 2020

An exciting art project is set to generate local and tourist interest in Portland’s CBD next year.

Hosted by the Committee for Portland, the TRAILS inaugural Sculpture Exhibition will showcase the works of local, regional, national and ultimately (Post-Covid) international artists via an event that engages with the broader community to support health and wellbeing.

Commencing on March 28, the exhibition will take the form of a trail, weaving its way through Portland’s retail hub, with 40 local traders signing up to host the sculptures in their shopfronts.

The TRAILS exhibition is offering awards totalling $10,000 and opportunities for ongoing commissions to develop works to enhance public spaces throughout the Glenelg Shire.

The concept is being driven by a specialised project team comprised of graphic artists, interior designers, sculptors, event managers and civic leaders,

The exhibition launch will be via a ticketed event involving multiple hosting stations, providing refreshments throughout the viewing experience.

A highlight of the five-week event will be artists’ talks and workshops with feature artists Rory Carter, Phil Cousins, Jon Dixon, Deb Saunders, Carmel Wallace and Andrew Walsh.

In its inaugural year, TRAILS invites artists to submit contemporary sculptures, up to 1m. in any dimension, for a multi-location interior exhibition trail in and around Portland’s commercial centre. It aims to promote and encourage artists, established and emerging.

Selection of entries for exhibition will be at the discretion of the exhibition’s appointed curatorial team of Joshua White, Artistic Director Hamilton Art Gallery, Vanessa Gerrans, Director Warrnambool Art Gallery, and Susie Lyons, Arts and Culture Manager Glenelg Shire.

Selected works will be exhibited, and artists considered for a commission as part of a developing art trail. All works exhibited in the TRAILS Sculpture Exhibition will be for sale.


Exhibition: March 28 – May 2 2021
Entries Open: 1 November 2020
Entries Close: 5pm 12 February 2021
Announcement of selected works: 26 February 2021

For further information on associated events including the Exhibition launch, artist talks and workshops, please visit the TRAILS Art Events page or contact:

TRAILS Exhibition Coordinator
Robyn McDonald
0438 233 841

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Committee for Portland calls on government to intervene on China’s timber ban
Media Release, Friday, 13 November 2020

The Committee for Portland is concerned a ban on Victorian timber log imports into China will have a devastating impact on jobs and the local economy.

Committee members are urging the Federal Government to negotiate with China to ensure all Victorian timber log exports can resume as soon as possible.

The call comes after China suspended the import of Victorian timber logs on Wednesday after Chinese authorities claimed a bark beetle had been found in logs exported in containers. A similar ban on timber from Queensland previously been put in place.

Committee for Portland Chair Steve Garner says the industry in Portland employed up to 1,000 people and a protracted investigation would be costly.

“We are asking our state and federal politicians to step in to protect the livelihoods of regional Victorians who are involved in the export of timber logs to China,” Mr Garner said.

“The hit to the local economy alone is enormous if this ban continues any longer than it has to. It will run into hundreds of millions of dollars per annum in our region alone.”

Port of Portland Chief Executive Officer and Committee for Portland member Greg Tremewen says the industry depends on a fast resolution to the problem.

“All of the logs from the Green Triangle region from southeast South Australia to southwest Victoria are shipped from the Port of Portland. A lot of people are employed in the industry, from forestry and transport workers to stevedores, shipping agents, and the many people who work for the Port of Portland. The issue centres on biosecurity issues with containerised logs and not bulk loading of logs. The government needs to act swiftly to ensure the loading of bulk logs to China can be immediately restored,” Mr Tremewen said.

The Port of Portland is Victoria’s only naturally deep-water port, strategically located on the southwest coast between Melbourne and Adelaide. It is one of Australia’s busiest regional ports.

Mr Tremewen said he hoped the shipping of timber from Portland, which used bulk shipping rather than containerised logs, was not collateral damage in a dispute that did not apply to its timber.

Background Note

The Committee for Portland is an initiative of leading business, local government and Community leaders within Portland. It was established in 2007 with the view to advocate and facilitate the future development of Portland and surrounding areas to be a vibrant and economically sustainable community.

To Arrange Interviews

Contact Fleur Morrison on 0421 118 233, or email

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Committee for Portland calls on the government to reach agreement with Alcoa
Media Release, Wednesday, 28 October 2020

The Committee for Portland is urging the State and Federal Governments to reach an ongoing, sustainable agreement with Alcoa to save the Portland Aluminium smelter.

The call comes as soaring energy prices increasingly threaten the future of the smelter, which brings significant economic and social benefits to the region.

The committee, with the support of local businesses and the community, is asking the government to support the provision of electricity to the plant at a competitive price through the introduction of an easement tax, which has been used in the past, or a similar measure.

They are concerned about the economic and social cost to the community of Portland, the region and the state, if the smelter closes.

Since its inception in 1986, Portland Aluminium has been the backbone of the town, creating more than 1100 jobs. Its workers inject tens of millions of dollars into the town and the surrounding community, and half of Portland’s retail income is estimated to come from Alcoa workers.

According to The Australia Institute’s 2020 report titled Rebooting Australian Aluminium: The Economic, Social and Environmental Potential of the Portland Smelter, the smelter is Victoria’s largest single exporter, generating total revenues of approximately $800 million each year.

Committee for Portland Chair Steve Garner said the smelter was crucial to the future of the town.

“The Committee for Portland is committed to ensuring that Portland and surrounding areas is a vibrant and economically sustainable community in which to work, live and thrive. Portland Aluminium is a key to the achievement of our vision of the future,” Mr Garner said.

“The closure of Portland Aluminium would be devastating for Portland; the population would decline as people and families left the area in search of employment, businesses and community institutions like schools would correspondingly struggle to survive; and, community vibrancy would be diminished with fewer volunteers and less support for community institutions.”

Glenelg Council CEO Greg Burgoyne said that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Portland, and the nation, needed manufacturers like Alcoa more than ever.

“This is not the time to risk the loss of high-value jobs in our state. As the current pandemic has shown, there is a need for more manufacturing, not less, in Victoria and Australia. The closure of Portland Aluminium would be a step in the wrong direction.”

Local business owner Bruce Elijah is concerned about the impact of the closure of Alcoa on small businesses in the region.

“The future of Portland depends on Alcoa and it would certainly be devastating for businesses like the one I have run for the past 41 years if it did not get the support it needs to continue to operate,” Mr Elijah said.

“Many local families with small businesses like mine depend on the income generated by the presence of Alcoa in the region.”

The Committee for Portland also believes the closure would also squander the region’s opportunity to contribute to Australia’s green energy future. As the user of 10 percent of Victoria’s energy supply, Portland Aluminium provides the opportunity for the state to lead the way in the use of greener energy in manufacturing.

Background Note

The Committee for Portland is an initiative of leading business, local government and Community leaders within Portland. It was established in 2007 with the view to advocate and facilitate the future development of Portland and surrounding areas to be a vibrant and economically sustainable community.

To Arrange Interviews

Contact Fleur Morrison on 0421 118 233, or email

Download this release

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