Posts Tagged ‘Geelong’

 

Geelong is a city going through a turbulent transition, stranded between its history and its future. Its modern legacy as a stronghold of heavy industry – led by Ford, Alcoa and Shell – is fading fast.

Ford has been closing its Geelong manufacturing works for some time, with the final jobs to go by 2016. Alcoa has announced that its ageing aluminium smelter and rolling mill would close in August, at a cost of 800 jobs. Last year Qantas axed just under 300 maintenance jobs at the nearby Avalon Airport and Target sacked 260 workers from its Geelong head office.

Geelong has a long history as a city, and with that, a long history of being able to rebuild itself from problems past. There is little doubt Geelong will reinvent itself as a smart city of the future on the back of its tourism, agriculture and, service industries, as well as its role as a port, and  its role as a hub for new industry, such as carbon fibre manufacturing.

The inevitable and immediate pain of future uncertainty looms for Geelong’s recently unemployed. One of the major problems with widespread job cuts to similar industries to an area in a short period of time is that it creates a situation where there are too many workers looking for what little work is still available. As Professor Louse Johnson explained during my interview with her, about one third of workers will find work in a similar industry, maintaining a similar standard of living; another third will find work in lesser jobs, reducing their standard of living. For the other third, it’s unlikely that they will work again. The question of whether to remain in Geelong, the bedrock of many workers’ lives, beckons also.

Fitter and turner Jay Craven, 24, was made redundant by Ford in Geelong in an early wave of job cuts. The atmosphere of redundancy is not a good one. The media seem to know information before the workers do, and there’s a general sense of despondency in the air as colleagues and friends turn on each other in a battle for job survival.

Whilst many of his colleagues tried to find work in and around Geelong to varying degrees of success, Jay decided to apply for a jobs in Melbourne. After a period of applying for jobs without luck, a family friend suggested he apply for a maintenance job at Yarra Trams. When he found out that he got the job, the decision to head down the highway was an easy one. Unlike some of his colleagues whom were rentrenched in Geelong with homes and young families, Jay’s only attachment was a sentimental one, having lived in the area his whole life.

Jay now lives in Preston with his sister, who also works in Melbourne. He is really enjoying the change, believing his fresh start will allow him to better develop a career and grow as a person. No one likes seeing people lose their jobs, but for Jay, redundancy was was the catalyst for a positive change in his life.

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Shop to your hearts discontent

Posted: October 1, 2012 by abeanderson in Geelong
Tags: , , ,

Controversial plans for the construction of a shopping complex in Highton’s prestigious estate off Scenic Rd. look certain to be given the go ahead, after the City of Greater Geelong Council put the bid to an independent panel earlier this week.

Lascorp Development Group plan to re-zone land they recently purchased from the Barrabool Hills Baptist Church, at the corner of Stoneleigh Crescent, and Province Boulevard in Highton.

Centre plans located at the proposal site. The overwhelming community feeling is represented fittingly by a youth’s graffiti on the sign.

Local Councillor Rod Macdonald believes that the project will add much needed infrastructure to the area still in its infantile stages.

Mr. McDonald along with nine other councillors recently delegated the shopping centre proposal to an independent panel, who will refer back to Council after a deliberation period of around a month, with a recommendation on the viability of the proposal for the area.

Ultimately however, the decision of forging forward with the project rests with the council.

Landscape view of the proposal site.

Many local residents have spoken out however against the external independent panel, believing that as the comprising members aren’t from the area, or even from Geelong, they couldn’t possibly gauge a complete understanding of the problems a shopping centre such as this could cause for nearby residents.

“How could they possibly believe that people from Melbourne or somewhere other than Geelong could be the people with the best knowledge of the area and the community, and the best to decide where our future in our area is headed,” said Highton mother of two Carol Finch.

Resident vexation with the impending proposal does not stop here, as further fears include that the centre could impede potential bay views, lower housing prices and create unwanted associated noise.

“We bought land in this estate because it was described in the brochure as having tree-lined boulevards, wonderful open space and views. There wasn’t any mention of a supermarket, associated noise, traffic jams and semis making late-night deliveries,” said disgruntled estate resident Dawn Jencke.

Outbursts about the proposal have also stemmed from the plans’ potential effect on pre-existing local independent businesses such as those on North Valley Road, an increase of traffic in the area leading to the destruction of the quiet community feel, as well a danger to children playing in the area.

Current residents of Province Boulevard Dennis and Debbie Jeneka feel helpless when talking about the effect that the shopping centre, which set to be completed directly across the road from their family home, will have upon their day-to-day lives.

Not all estate residents however share this pessimism towards the proposal.

Highton resident of 22 years Alannah Bisinella believes the shopping centre is imperative for residents in the estate and the expansion of local infrastructure.

“There’s going to be another 2000 homes built in the area in the next couple of years, and the surrounding shopping centres can’t even currently cater for the volume of customers they are getting out of this area,” Ms Bisinella stressed.

On an interesting note, estate resident Tony Cielo says that there is no coincidence that local council members including Mr. McDonald have levied so laboriously for the go-ahead of the centre.

“If the name Lascorp sounds familiar, it might be because they made anonymous donations to two subsequently elected local politicians (including McDonald) in the 2004 election period”.

Lascorp were unavailable for comment during the week.

Geelong is gearing up to host the Australian Deaf Games in January 2012.

Toby Prime reports that the city is set to receive a massive economic boost from the games.

A proposed parking price increase at Deakin University has staff and students up in arms at the overhaul – Matthew O’Toole reports no one seems happy with the idea.

Deakin University Australia has unveiled its latest weapon to help students reach their full academic potential. Nick Renwick gets a hall pass to file this report.