CIVIC leaders are pleased several long-running projects have secured funding but claim the state budget fell short of meeting the south-west’s transport needs.
Several of the region’s mayors have called for a special funding pool for state roads to be established, saying they will lobby the government and opposition ahead of the November state election.
Corangamite Shire mayor Chris O’Connor said the poor condition of the south-west’s main thoroughfares was widely acknowledged and the state needed to pay its fair share.
He said the inadequate condition of the Princes Highway would stifle the region’s burgeoning tourism sector.
“You’ve got to acknowledge the government is putting a large amount of cash for the Princes Highway duplication east of Colac,” Cr O’Connor said.
“The problem is west of Colac, where we need significant works to upgrade the road to a ‘two-one design’ (two lanes of traffic in one direction, one lane in the opposite direction).
“It’s a far more achievable prospect than duplication,” the mayor said.
Cr O’Connor said the government’s $5.2 million commitment to upgrade Timboon P-12 School should be applauded, but hoped it would consider also cash to refurbish Terang kindergarten and an extensive pathway near the Twelve Apostles.
Warrnambool mayor Michael Neoh said the state budget had produced commendable commitments for the region’s health services but was disappointed with its lack of focus on the south-west rail connection.
“Duplication of the Princes Highway between Winchelsea and Colac had been planned for around this year and next, so it’s good to see it written into the budget,” Cr Neoh said.
“What is a bit disappointing is the lack of focus on public transport for the region, particularly increasing services on the Warrnambool rail line.
“The Great South Coast Group of councils was looking for two extra services along the line as well as specific funding for state roads in the region.”
Cr Neoh also serves as Regional Cities Victoria chairman and said the group was pleased with the budget focus on the state’s largest centres outside of Melbourne.
Glenelg Shire mayor John Northcott said he was pleased Narrawong Primary School had received $2.3 million to be rebuilt but added that most of the municipality missed out.
“I can understand why there’s a fair amount of money heading back into Melbourne and Geelong given their population growth,” Cr Northcott said.
“The problem is, if we don’t look at investing more in places like Portland, Hamilton and Casterton as so on, the infrastructure won’t be there to attract more people to regional towns.”