MIKE Neoh sees a narrow window of opportunity for Warrnambool to gain vital government support for a proposed Lady Bay harbour upgrade and a cancer care centre.
“There’s a federal election coming up soon which will be followed by a state election and if we don’t act now to press for funding commitments we’ll have to wait for the next round,” he told The Standard yesterday.
“A strategic campaign is needed with support from all south-west councils because these projects have wide regional benefit.
“The solution is advocacy — that’s what I’ve been standing on in this campaign.”
After eight years on the city council, including two terms as mayor, Cr Neoh feels he has the experience and skills to help put pressure on governments to fund major projects.
“Some candidates make irresponsible promises, but council can’t fund them all,” he said.
“With a $4.5 million bill for the superannuation shortfall due in July, council would really need a commitment of at least $4 million from the governments to make the proposed $6 million harbour upgrade a reality.
“Otherwise a 50 per cent rates rise would be needed.
“We certainly need commitments for the harbour and cancer centre soon. We don’t want to wait another four years.”
Peter’s Project committee leader Vicki Jellie welcomed Cr Neoh’s promise to press for government commitments on her long-time goal for a cancer centre.
“We are preparing a submission for the federal opposition and we are prepared to travel to Canberra to see the federal health minister,” she said.
“Early estimates are it would cost about $35 million, with $5 million from our community and the rest from governments.” Cr Neoh proposes a detailed advocacy paper on both proposed projects and also a major forum where federal and state MPs in government and opposition would be asked to attend.
“That needs to happen before the federal election,” he said.
Cr Neoh said the community campaign about three years ago for commitments on Princes Highway passing lanes proved the power of advocacy with all five south-west councils working together.
“With three state MPs in cabinet, Denis Napthine, Terry Mulder and Hugh Delahunty, they should be able to exert their influence for us,” Cr Neoh said.