State’s budget spend fails to impress mayor

Shire mayor Jason Schram says the state budget ignores Colac Otway and the council will now push to fund its priority projects through state and federal government grants.

The new state budget’s $70-billion cash splash almost completely ignores the region, Colac Otway’s mayor says.

The State Government’s latest budget will partially support kindergartens, paramedics, and family violence victims across Colac and district, and will boost the Great Ocean Road.

But the budget misses the mark on nearly all of Colac Otway Shire Council’s priority projects and other funding needs.

Major priority projects to miss out include a Colac Memorial Square Master Plan, a Port of Apollo Bay redevelopment, and upgrades to deadly roads and intersections in the region, including the Blue Church Corner at Nalangil.

A $10-million investment to upgrade the Colac Hospital Urgent Care Unit to an emergency department also missed out on the $3.8 billion for hospital building projects across the state.

The State Government handed down its 2019-2020 budget on Monday, which included an $882-million rollout of universal three-year-old kinder across the state, to hit Colac Otway and Corangamite regions in in 2021.

The budget cash will also help paramedics at Camperdown and Terang better service the Corangamite region, with single-officer branches set to upgrade to dual-officer crews, as part of $109 million in support for Victorians paramedics.

Meanwhile, almost $24 million will support victims of family violence, improving access to emergency accommodation in the Western District and Barwon regions and across Victoria.

The budget also fully funds the state’s contribution to the Geelong and Shipwreck Coast, with $18.8 million for the City Deal which includes $1.5 million to establish a new statutory authority to manage the Great Ocean Road and surrounding areas.

Colac Otway Shire Council has pushed for the State Government to base the authority at Apollo Bay, but the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is yet to confirm where it will place the headquarters.

Mayor Jason Schram said the budget otherwise failed to spend money on independent projects in the shire.

“The small positives were $1.5 million for the Great Ocean Road Authority and any improvement to Waurn Ponds could improve services for our region, but apart from that it really is a disgraceful budget for our region,” Cr Schram said.

“It seems that the money is being spent where they are getting most of their votes, which is in the city and the bigger regional areas, but the smaller regional areas like Colac have sadly missed out again.”

See today’s Colac Herald for more.

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