Riordan not convinced about Twelve Apostles land acquisition

February 16, 2024 BY

An artist's impression of the upgraded visitor centre to be built near the Twelve Apostles. Image: SUPPLIED

POLWARTH Liberal MP Richard Riordan is not convinced about the financial arrangements for the proposed new visitor centre at the Twelve Apostles, and has asked whether the cost of buying land will affect other projects in the Geelong City Deal.

The $108.15 million Twelve Apostles Precinct Redevelopment is one of the biggest projects in the $370 million Geelong City Deal and includes the $84.75 million Shipwreck Coast priority project works.

These include a new and expanded Twelve Apostles Visitor Experience Centre, improved lookouts, new access roads and better parking.

In October 2022, the Labor government announced its intentions to compulsorily acquire private land next door to the existing visitor centre from the Nesseler family to facilitate the redevelopment, and the process to formally purchase the land began this month.

The Liberals have been critical for months about the decision to compulsorily acquire the land, as they say the Nesseler family had owned the land for at least 50 years and had tried to have an improved Twelve Apostles facility built there for the past decade.

The Liberals claim the cost of acquiring the land at the Twelve Apostles was not part of the original Geelong City Deal, and Mr Riordan asked Environment Minister Steve Dimopoulous about the issue in Parliament on Wednesday last week.

“The Minister must tell the Great Ocean Road community whether this has been budgeted for and if resources will have to be diverted from other important maintenance and upgrades,” Mr Riordan said.

“Vital assets like the steps to the Loch Ard Gorge and access to the Arch are all in need of urgent maintenance, along with much needed funds for access tracks and walking infrastructure right along the Great Ocean Road.

“If the funds are coming from the Geelong City Deal, what other projects will need to be cancelled to pay for the buy back? The Skenes Creek board walk has already been shelved, what other projects are at risk of delay or cancellation? The state government must come clean.”

In response to questions about the compulsory acquisition, Victorian government spokesperson said: “The Twelve Apostles Precinct Redevelopment Project will transform this iconic tourism destination, ensuring the Twelve Apostles remains a much-loved Victorian landmark to be enjoyed by generations to come.

“The redevelopment will make the Twelve Apostles safer and easier to experience, help to attract domestic and international visitors, and encourage people to stay longer in the region.

“The new Visitor Experience Centre will act as the gateway to the Shipwreck Coast, strengthening the region’s reputation as a leading tourist destination in Australia – with those tourism benefits flowing to the local community.

“New and existing tourism businesses in the area will benefit from the new attraction, and more local jobs will be created.”

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