Push for state election cash

Cr-Lyn-Russell

Colac Otway Shire mayor Cr Lyn Russell

LOBBYISTS will use this year’s state election to push for cash for Colac’s Central Reserve, more train services, and Apollo Bay’s harbour redevelopment.

The G21 regional alliance, which includes Colac Otway Shire Council, has released a 2014 priority list, with just over eight months until the state election.

Colac Otway Shire mayor Lyn Russell said G21 lobbying had been crucial in gaining funding for the region during previous election years and the board had recognised key projects for Colac Otway Shire on its new priority list.

G21 board members, including Cr Russell, council chief Rob Small and newly elected representative Colac businessman Henry Bongers, will also present the priority list to federal ministers, opposition ministers and their advisors during a visit to Canberra today and tomorrow.

Cr Russell said the list was important to push for state funding but this week’s G21 visit was a great opportunity for regional leaders to explain and advocate for their priority projects at a federal level.

“We don’t expect to come back with buckets of money and there are some big-ticket items on the list but it’s a chance to raise the profile of these projects,” she said.

“The Apollo Bay Habour has been on the list for a while but it needs $10 million for infrastructure so we need state and federal funding.

“The harbour precinct project on the priority list is not about swimming pools, it’s about new parking facilities, walking trails and new sailing club facilities and other improvements.”

Cr Russell said the development of a major network of trails across the region was also on the list, with the Great Ocean Walk, Bellarine Rail Trail, Tiger Trail and “high walk” at Apollo Bay priorities for funding.

“We need end-to-end trails so people can come to the region, walk one trail, stay the night and then do another trail if they want; it increases the yield to accommodation and food and services in the area,” she said.

“We also need five train services a day from Geelong to Warrnambool which also helps our neighbouring shires, and Avalon Airport is on the priority list and having an airport so close has a lot of benefits for Colac Otway Shire as well.”

Colac’s Central Reserve master plan implementation also made the list under the “addressing disadvantage” category which included a range of projects “that address community, education and employment issues in Colac, Norlane, Corio and Whittington”.

“We’ve already done very well out of the Federal Government with $1.5 million but we need the state to come on board with another $2.7 million for the stadium, lights, landscaping and other improvements to finish the project,” Cr Russell said.

The full list of G21 priority projects is online at www.g21.com.au/priority-projects

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