Renewed calls for airport upgrades
TWO Federal positions politicians are calling on the Morrison Government to fund part of the almost eleven million dollar planned upgrades to Bendigo Airport.
Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters, and shadow minister for infrastructure, transport and regional development and Member for Ballarat Catherine King said the Federal Government should match $4.5 million in State funding already committed to the project in 2019.
Ms Chesters said the Federal Government were pork barrelling their seats and target seats and instead needed to “target projects which make good economic sense”.
“The Prime Minister needs to be the Prime Minister for the whole of the country, including regional Victoria, and not just Sydney,” she said.
Ms King said the airport was an important economic zone that would have a $2.8 billion impact on the region and shouldn’t be used as a political playing field.
“It should be beyond party politics, it shouldn’t rely on an election campaign for this project to be funded,” she said.
“It makes good economic sense for Bendigo, it makes good economic sense for regional development for the state of Victoria and the Morrison Government should frankly just get on with it and fund it.”
The municipality had previously applied multiple times for the money from the Building Better Regions Fund but were unsuccessful.
“We are crossing our fingers and hoping the federal government is listening this time around,” Ms Chesters said.
“[The City of Greater Bendigo is] being modest with their ask, they’ve staged the development of the airport out over a number of years… it’s considered a small project by the federal Government so we really just want them to get on board and fund this application.”
If the City’s latest application were to be successful, they would allocate about $985,000 to fund the remainder of the project.
Mayor Cr Jennifer Alden said the works were needed to keep up with increased use of the airport recently.
“We’re a victim of our own success and it’s a wonderful thing to be able to say in a COVID environment that we’ve had really positive growth in the use of this facility,” she said.
“Our tourism industry in one of the big booms in Bendigo at the moment and we want to see it continuing.”
The planned works would include expanding the terminal building, improving amenities services like power, sewerage and water, upgrades to security facilities and a back of house area.
“It also will mean basic things like having enough seats in the terminal for the flights that we have,” Ms Chesters said.
She said the project would create short term construction jobs adding to a “pipeline” of work in Bendigo, and long-term aviation jobs.
Cr Alden said there were also plans for a business park on the site.
“We have some of that already establishing but a larger piece of infrastructure is required to attract more businesses and with that we can have huge scope to attract a whole lot of new ideas and thinking and innovation,” she said.