Corangamite Shire’s bold bid to attract more than $160 million in government funding for a range of key projects deserves praise. The shire this week launched a glossy brochure documenting each of the 11 projects on its wish-list.
It is sick of being overlooked by governments on either side of the political spectrum and at both state and federal level when it comes to discretionary funding.
Corangamite is a victim of its conservative safe-seat status and with the absence of a regional city within its boundaries, struggles to find a place on the political radar. But it should. It is home to one of Australia’s most popular and recognisable tourist attractions – the Twelve Apostles and western end of the Great Ocean Road.
The Twelve Apostles attract 2.6 million visitors each year yet the state of the Great Ocean Road, parking facilities and the overall visitor experience are poor.
The shire has worked hard and long on developing initiatives to improve that experience, yet attracting funds from governments is elusive. Any developments that improve visitor experiences will boost the entire south-west and Victoria with tourists more likely to stay, spend money and promote the region as a destination.
With a state election 13 months away, the shire has made its intentions clear – it will no longer be a nice guy waiting quietly for a handout. It wants and needs to be loud, aggressive and persistent in spruiking its campaign. Premier Daniel Andrews and opposition leader Matthew Guy should be invited to the shire as soon as possible and the message delivered clearly – investment is critical to the region’s, state’s and nation’s tourism industry.
The Twelve Apostles is just one of several projects on the list – there’s an $8 million walking/riding track from Port Campbell to Timboon that is a no-brainer when it comes to boosting tourism expenditure. This project has been on the drawing board for years and will re-pay the investment in spades.
Corangamite won’t be alone in chasing funds leading up to the election. Warrnambool needs $120m for the second stage redevelopment of the city’s hospital; Reid Oval should be upgraded to AFL standard. The region’s roads need massive injections, especially in the Glenelg Shire area. And there’s plenty more projects deserving support. Multiply that across the state and that’s why our region needs to be vocal. The squeaky wheel will get the oil.