South-west priority list

THE south-west’s peak advocacy group  has fine-tuned its list of priority projects in the lead-up to next year’s state government elections.

Agriculture, education, roads and nature-based tourism have been singled out as the top four by the Great South Coast group, which has re-elected Cr Chris O’Connor, of Terang, as chairman.

Improved telecommunications was also listed as a key need.

Cr O’Connor said the group’s board was unanimous in deciding the updated priorities.

“These are all issues or projects we believe will have a lasting impact on us as a region and we’ll be doing all we can to ensure our voice is heard,”  he said.

Last year’s  priorities included a proposed integrated cancer centre in Warrnambool and a cruise ship berth at Portland, both of which have been partly achieved with funding commitments from the federal and state governments  earlier this year and  the first cruise ship visits due early 2014.

The fresh priority list highlights the Great South Coast’s food and fibre strategy to help producers and processors boost productivity and take advantage of emerging export markets. The education attainment project aims to address the region’s lower-than-average year 12 or equivalent attainment rate.

Roads are again on the priority list, with data showing the region’s are among the worst in Victoria.

“Our aim is simply to bring our roads up to a standard enjoyed elsewhere in the state,” Cr O’Connor said.

He said the group was still focused on attracting funding for completing two iconic walking trails — the Grampians Peaks Trail and the Twelve Apostles Trail.

Moyne Shire mayor James Purcell was elected deputy chairman  and the executive officer position again allocated to Warrnambool-based consultancy o2 Media’s director Karen Foster.

The board also comprises mayors and chief executives of Corangamite, Glenelg, Moyne, Southern Grampians, Colac Otway shire councils and Warrnambool City.

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