PROMISES, promises. They have been coming thick and fast from the main contenders in what is shaping up to be one of the closest electoral contests for many years – Victoria’s State Election 2010, due to take place this Saturday, November 27.
Among the plethora of promises of general interest to the people of this state are a handful relating specifically to local projects.
Here in Gippsland South, where Nationals leader Peter Ryan holds a comfortable majority, Australian Labor Party candidate Steve Boyce, one of three candidates up against Mr Ryan, has promised that a future Brumby Labor Government would deliver an upgraded adventure playground for Wilsons Promontory National Park at Tidal River. He said that if the Brumby Government were to be re-elected, it would contribute $800,000 to the Tidal River Open Space Project.
Also on the local front, Peter Ryan has promised that The Nationals, in a Coalition Government, would spend $3 million to upgrade and re-open Port Welshpool’s iconic Long Jetty.
“Restoring the Long Jetty would provide local employment and help boost tourist numbers at Port Welshpool and the surrounding communities of Welshpool, Foster, Toora and Yarram,” said Mr Ryan.
“Restoring the iconic structure would also substantially boost the plans for the proposed under water viewing platform, similar to that at Busselton in Western Australia which draws more than 90,000 visitors a year.”
Then just last Friday Mr Ryan made a special visit to Barry Point, near Barry Beach, where he announced that if a Coalition Government were elected, the Nationals would contribute up to $2 million to enable the completion of Stage 1 of Port Anthony at Barry Point.
“Port Anthony offers the prospect of enormous opportunity for the South Gippsland region and for Victoria generally,” said Mr Ryan. “It has the capacity to open up a trading port for both the import and export of bulk goods. It will give us another gateway into our region and will represent the only facility of its type in the eastern part of the state.”
Mr Ryan said that the funding commitment, together with further investment on behalf of Ancon Australia, the owners of the port, would enable completion of existing piling, minor dredging works to be undertaken in front of the wharf, completion of road works on site and the addition of vital infrastructure, including maritime fuel and waterlines to the wharf and the availability of electricity cable lines to meet site requirements.
“The funding is, of course, conditional upon provision of permits upon relevant agencies. However, much of that material is already in hand,” said Mr Ryan. “Existing work quotations will also need to be confirmed but it is anticipated that these matters will be addressed.”
Mr Ryan’s enthusiasm for the Barry Point project is shared by South Gippsland Shire. Shire Economic Development Coordinator Ken Fraser and Councillor Jeanette Harding were at Port Anthony on Friday to hear Mr Ryan’s announcement.
Cr Harding said that she was keen to see the development go ahead, hopeful that it would provide a wealth of job opportunities.
Managing Director of Ancon Australia John Anthony welcomed the commitment by the Coalition, but he said that the project would go ahead with or without government funding. He said that the piles for the wharf had already been completed – driven to a depth of 18 metres – and dredging would recommence in December, after which bollards and a 300 tonne crane pad would go in. A hard stand area is due to be completed in January and dredging should be completed by the end of January, ready for the opening of the wharf in early February.
For further details on what the Gippsland South candidates – Kate Jackson (Australian Greens ), John Hirt (Country Alliance) as well as Mr Ryan and Mr Boyce – stand for, as well as details as where to vote, see page x.
Planning for real
One thing the election does promise for the residents of the Foster district is the opportunity to have a say on improvements to the town. Foster Community Association will be holding a ‘Planning for Real’ exercise outside the polling booth at South Gippsland Secondary College. Whether you would like the shire to tidy up Stockyard Creek and Pearl Park or put in a pavement to the cemetery and rail trail, this will be your opportunity to plant a flag on the map, write down your ideas and make your views known!