02 September 2018

Funding terms for Destination Queenscliff cabins and café under review  

I wish to assure the Queenscliff community that State Labor’s sudden withdrawal of $2.5 million in funding will not impact on Destination Queenscliff projects which have strong community backing such as landscaping and public facilities for ANZAC Day commemorations at the Queenscliff Lighthouse Reserve.

It is regrettable that Ms Neville has raised these unnecessary fears, particularly with community groups such as the local RSL.

Following my request, the Minister for Regional Development, Michael McCormack, has agreed to review the funding terms for the construction of six cabins and a café at the Queenscliff Lighthouse Reserve.

I share the community’s deep concerns about the new location and design of the proposed eco-cabins and the scale of the café development at the Reserve.  After raising this on behalf of local residents, I am pleased that the Borough of Queenscliff has agreed to relocate the café so that it will no longer be sited on the historic “Bull Ring.”

I am concerned to ensure that Destination Queenscliff will drive new tourism visitation as committed by council in its 2016 application for Commonwealth funding under the National Stronger Regions Fund, and not impact on the businesses of traders and accommodation providers.

I also wish to reiterate that Ms Neville has not withdrawn any state funds from the original $6.99 million Destination Queenscliff project to which the state has contributed $3.15 million and the Commonwealth $3.48 million as announced in October 2016.

It is regrettable that Ms Neville has not been transparent with the Queenscliff community.  The money she has withdrawn was the result of a $2.695m secret deal she did with council, soon after a community meeting I held at Shortland’s Bluff, which increased the number of cabins from six to 10.  This was never part of the original “Destination Queenscliff” project.  Ms Neville botched this project because she funded additional cabins that she knew were divisive in the Queenscliff community.

In July 2017, I am proud that I helped lead a community campaign to relocate the contentious eco-cabins from Shortland’s Bluff.  I have worked closely with the Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale communities to be their strong local voice and will continue to do so. I again place on the record that while council briefed me about the cabins proposal on a number of occasions including that it was seeking federal funding, I expressed my reservations.  Accordingly, I was not asked to provide a letter of support for council’s application for funding (as ordinarily occurs) about which I was not aware until after it was lodged.

On 14 September 2018, I will be holding a Bellarine Community Forum for Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale residents at the Queenscliff Uniting Church Hall at 5.00pm.  This is an important opportunity for local residents to raise their aspirations and concerns on this and other issues.

I strongly support the Queenscliff Hub project and welcome the state funding which is long overdue.  With matching funding now available, council will be eligible for Federal funding under the Building Better Regions Program which is very positive.

2 September 2018