I am deeply concerned about the bully boy tactics of the State Labor Government and, in particular, Bellarine MP Lisa Neville over the Green Spine planning issues.
It is disgraceful that State Labor has frozen funding for Geelong council’s CBD infrastructure projects which places many projects at risk including the revival of the city centre under our City Deal.
This freeze may also jeopardise the development of the convention centre under our City Deal.
The Morrison Liberal Government is contributing $183.8m under the Geelong City Deal and $900,000 to the Malop St Green Spine under the Roads to Recovery Program. Under our City Deal, our government is contributing in excess of $20 million to central Geelong infrastructure and $30 million to the convention centre.
The design of the Green Spine was approved by the council’s administrators, when the council was placed in administration by the state government.
The state government carries much of the responsibility for the planning mess in central Geelong. It established the Geelong Authority “to advise on strategies and major planning applications for central Geelong” including the Green Spine.
The Geelong Authority by very definition is a sham: it has no planning powers and is a ministerial advisory committee only. Based on briefings I have received, the so called “Authority” and the state government have been aware of the Green Spine planning issues for a long time including that buses would not be able to turn from Malop Street in sections where the Green Spine is established.
So why has the Geelong Authority failed to properly oversee the development of the Green Spine and the planning for city bus routes? What exactly is it doing?
For a number of years, I have called for the abolition of the Geelong Authority and the establishment of a proper planning authority. This is further evidence that the Geelong Authority needs to go.
On Lisa Neville’s watch, we have seen Labor grossly mismanage development across our region including in Armstrong Creek, on the Bellarine Peninsula and the Surf Coast.
Despite a high rate of population growth, we have also seen a gross failure by Labor to fund transport infrastructure such as roads upgrades and fast rail. It has failed to get on with important projects such as the duplication of the Barwon Heads Rd and the Geelong rail duplication project. The extension of the ring road to the Bellarine is another planning disaster in the waiting.
The state government must stop its bullying, reverse its funding freeze and work constructively with the City of Greater Geelong.
Longer term, our region desperately needs a comprehensive planning body so that we do not continue to suffer from these planning blunders which damage the growth and prosperity of our city.
26 February 2020