I am deeply disappointed that the Victorian Government has declined to meet the $9 million funding shortfall for the proposed Surf Coast Aquatic and Health Centre in Torquay.

It is also disappointing that Labor MPs Libby Coker and Darren Cheeseman have done so little to get behind this project and advocate for this additional funding.

In light of this decision, I believe Surf Coast Shire must urgently redesign the pool so that it can be built for $30 million – being the $20 million committed by the Morrison Government and the $10 million from the Victorian Government.

This redesign, to lower the cost of the facility, can be achieved in various ways including by constructing one 50 metre pool which can be divided, as required, into separate pool areas by a pontoon or other similar mechanism. This is a proposal I put forward more than a year ago.

I say to Surf Coast Shire: get on with it so we can swim!

Far too often, council projects cost so much than equivalent projects built by the private sector. This has to change. With clever design, hard headed negotiation and absolute determination, I believe the Shire can and must build this aquatic facility, including gym and ancillary health spaces, for $30 million.

It is not worth the risk of holding out hope of more funding which may never eventuate. The longer this drags on, the greater the uncertainty and the more expensive the project will become.

The Shire also risks losing this funding allocation given it is a requirement of all government funding agreements that project milestones be met within an agreed period.

I continue to remain absolutely determined to work with Surf Coast residents, including local schools, to deliver a facility that our community deserves.

16 September 2020