THE State Budget will be handed down next week, and councils and business organisations in the Geelong region have a clear idea of what they want from it.
The Surf Coast Shire has its wishlist of budget spending ready to go, with the previous council updating and adopting its strategic advocacy priorities for the Victorian and federal governments in September.
The list of priorities is grouped into eight priority areas: COVID-19 Response and Recovery, Great Ocean Road Economy, Towards Environmental Leadership, Building our Future, Strong Future for Local Government, Key Policy Campaigns, Community and Partner-Led Priorities including the Community Project Development program, and G21 Campaigns.
Some of the shire’s largest asks in sheer dollar terms are $20 million every year for road renewal along the Great Ocean Road, $28 million for the Torquay Cultural Facility and Library, and $12 million for the Torquay Town Centre Revitalisation.
The shire also seeks support for the Eden Project’s plan for the Alcoa mine site in Anglesea, a feasibility study for the use of recycled water in the Thompson Valley, and the establishment of a circular economy as a “solution to the current failure of Victorian waste management and recycling”.
The state government has already made some announcements ahead of handing down the budget on Tuesday, November 24, including free kinder, $870 million for more mental health programs, and a plan for the Southern Hemisphere’s largest battery, to be built near Geelong.
Five of the Geelong region’s biggest peak bodies are continuing to collectively call for specific projects and initiatives to be included in the budget.
G21, the Committee for Geelong, the Geelong Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine and the Geelong Manufacturing Council released the 13-item list in late September.
It includes infrastructure, visitor economy product and much-needed community facilities, plus support packages for business, manufacturing and Deakin University.
G21 chief executive office Elaine Carbines said some items had been ticked off since the peak bodies released the list, including funding for Stage 5 at GMHBA Stadium, but many more remained.
“Both the state and federal governments are keen to stimulate the economy, so we’re optimistic at this stage at some of our funding requests in the state budget.”
She said these requests included $15 million upgrades to the road network servicing GeelongPort to cater for the increased volume of vehicles using the Spirit of Tasmania terminal from 2022 onwards, $20 million for the Northern Aquatic and Community Hub, and expediting all projects associated with the City Deal.
“We’ve waited a long time for the Geelong Convention Centre, for example, and it would be lovely to see some funds to bring that forward so by the time we are able to have international guests again staying in our country, we’re well down the track to having a convention centre for our region.”