Kingston looks to boost local economy through Quanzhou partnership

(The following was written as a part of my Ethics, Law, and Power class within my Journalism course. It’s a hard news story based on the Mordialloc/City of Kingston area, with a focus on local council.)

Kingston City Council has revealed plans to enter into a sister city relationship with Quanzhou, China, with the aim of assisting local businesses.

The plans come in the wake of Kingston’s vote to join the Australia China Business Council, a move to “help boost trade opportunities” according to a press release on their website.

The initiative was proposed by North Ward councillor Paul Peulich, following a visit to Quanzhou in May 2015. He recently returned from another visit, in which he met with the deputy mayor, Lin Boquian.

Cr Peulich claims that “the importance of a relationship at a government level between China and Australia is vital, because it gives investors from overseas the confidence that the investments they are making have support of government.”

A sister city relationship would “allow for the promotion of initiatives which improve the educational relations between the two nations, cultural relations, economic development, and also tourism and trade,” he said.

“By firstly tapping into export markets and growing export opportunities for local small and medium sized businesses, we are helping to grow the local economy. There is a tangible benefit which can be measured simply by the fact that we are helping to establish these relationships, and those relationships will be innumerous in years to come.”

Not everyone within the council is excited about this potential union, though.

Fellow North Ward councillor, Steve Staikos, feels that Kingston should place a greater focus on local issues.

“I feel that initiating a sister city relationship will have very little tangible impact on our community here in Kingston,” Cr Staikos said. “I believe local government is the level of government that is closest to the people – in the streets and suburbs of our city.”

“The best thing we can do as a council to support local business is to cut red tape to ensure that doing business in Kingston is easy as possible. Once we have benchmarked our processes and policies against the best in the country then we can move on to looking at if we can assist in providing export opportunities.”

Whether or not the sister city relationship will go ahead remains to be seen.

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