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Letter to the Editor Geelong Advertiser: Strong vision for Western Beach

As with the Waurn Ponds to South Geelong rail duplication, Avalon’s international airport, the Howitzer defence project and the Geelong City Deal, major investments in the Geelong region start with a strong vision.  As a member of the Morrison government, I worked closely with key stakeholders and the broader community to make these projects a reality.

The expanded Geelong Convention and Exhibition Centre (GCEC), a key City Deal project, provides an opportunity to develop an exciting new vision for Western Beach on the iconic Geelong waterfront, located across the road from Deakin University’s waterfront carpark where GCEC will be built.

I am very proud of the work of my late mother Ann Henderson who, as the member for Geelong in the 1990s, drove the first stage of the waterfront’s revitalisation.  Now, it is time for Western Beach to receive a similar level of investment.

My vision includes the construction of a low-lying, beautifully designed, iconic development over the water, complete with circular boardwalk (reminiscent of the historic Eastern Beach sea baths), cafes, restaurants and a public space such as a gallery.  With proper planning and foresight, Western Beach Wharf  (for want of a better name) could be linked via an underground tunnel to GCEC and become a major tourist drawcard.

While I appreciate Western Beach’s bayside bathing history, I wish to clarify that I am not proposing this development would include sea baths as suggested in the story “Bayside Bathing Revamp Plan” (8/1).  There is an opportunity to build something quite exceptional at Western Beach, hence the need for feasibility funding, but revitalised sea baths weren’t part of my thinking.

For our city to go from strength to strength, long-term planning and a strong vision are critical.  That’s why I am such an advocate of a regional planning commission in contrast to the state government’s Geelong Authority which is nothing more than a ministerial advisory committee. One only needs to look at state Labor’s proposed Bellarine Link road, a planning disaster which would require the destruction of dozens of homes,  to understand the consequences of poor planning.

Published 21 January 2022

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