Hopes to fast-track spending

Colac Otway mayor Jason Schram and the council’s chief Peter Brown visited Canberra as part of a G21 delegation pushing for funding for the region’s priority projects.

Desperately needed infrastructure projects at Apollo Bay and Kennett River could be set for the fast-track, with a little help from Canberra.

Meanwhile, Telstra might be considering developing a mobile phone tower at Birregurra’s Recreation Reserve.

Colac Otway’s mayor Jason Schram and chief executive Peter Brown visited the Federal Parliament last week as part of a G21 Alliance delegation pushing for funding delivery on major City Deal projects, including in Colac Otway.

“I was able to speak on the Apollo Bay Harbour and Kennett River and asked if they could release funding,” Cr Schram said.

“I spoke to (Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure) Minister Alan Tudge who is responsible for that and he gave a good indication that they were just as keen to start the money flowing.

“He talked about applications we could make to potentially fast-track the funding so we can start paying for planning for our projects.

“We said, ‘We appreciate it and we’ve got timelines, but is there a way of fast tracking because our communities are desperate to start spending this money?’” Cr Schram said.

“All the G21 mayors certainly put our best foot forward, the Great Ocean Road was of high importance and spoken about at a majority of meetings, it’s a world-class tourist destination and we’re advocating pretty strongly for ongoing funding for maintenance, instead of lump sums – which we’re grateful for – but we want a 10-year commitment of $10-to-$20 million a year for the ongoing maintenance,” he said.

“That funding won’t be given to shires to dish out, but we’re advocating strongly for it. Instead of waiting for the roads to deteriorate and then get money thrown at it to get it fixed, we just keep it in A1-class for the millions of visitors it has a year.”

The delegation also met up with new Victorian Senator Sarah Henderson.

“I had a chance to speak about some local issues and the blackspot mobile tower funding and asked to keep the pressure on Birregurra,” Cr Schram said.

See today’s Colac Herald for more.

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