An artist's impression of the Apollo Bay Resort.

Apollo Bay Resort backers offer $8 million in community initiatives

August 15, 2018 BY

THE proponents of the Apollo Bay Resort have offered a sweetener to the town’s local groups, sporting clubs and businesses, promising $8 million in funding towards “community development initiatives” but only if the 262-room resort’s planning permit is approved.

However, the news has been received sceptically by some in the community, who described the funding as “irrelevant”, “bribery” and “a payoff”.

Oceans United Investments Group (OUI) chair Graham Duff announced the funding last week, saying the $8 million would go towards “capital development contributions directly to local initiatives” and “in ongoing annual subsidies to support and develop Apollo Bay and the local region”.

OUI, which has submitted its application for the $70 million resort on Barham River Road to the state government, plans to enter into a range of commercial in-principle agreements with a number of Apollo Bay associations and enterprises.

Specific initiatives include:

  • Meaningful in-kind support to the Conservation Ecology Centre’s Wildlife Wonders Project, particularly during the development phase
  • Support Guli-Gad Corporation to develop a centre that will showcase the history, heritage and culture of Indigenous people and provide a range of cultural activities for all Australians and international visitors, whether guests of the resort or not, and
  • Not to duplicate health services at the resort, but to instead make an annual contribution to Otway Health to assist in the provision of these services to the guests and staff.

Reaction to the $8 million package on the Otway Community News Facebook page has been largely negative, with posts calling it “bribery”, “pork barrelling”, “a payoff” and “buying support”.

The Otway Forum, a local ratepayers’ group, is part of the opposition against the resort, and secretary Pete Fillmore said OUI’s initiatives “have no relevance to the long list of objections to the proposal”.

In response to questions from this newspaper, Mr Duff said that “to accuse my company and our partners within the Apollo Bay community of ‘bribery’ is wrong and totally offensive”.

“It is important to us that we utilise and indeed enhance existing organisations, services and businesses that will be a very important part of ensuring that our guests receive the best possible ‘Australian Experience’.”

The Colac Otway Shire was to determine its position on the resort’s planning application at a meeting yesterday (Wednesday) night.