THE people of Meeniyan and district are one step closer to achieving their goal of a community bank.
The state government has announced funding of $8,400 for a commu- nity bank feasibility study.
The study is one of a swag of projects to re- ceive funding as part of the government’s $631 million Ready for T omor- row: A Blueprint for Re- gional and Rural Victo- ria.
Unveiling the blue- print in Ballarat last Tues- day alongside his Re- gional and Rural Devel- opment Minister, Jacinta Allan, the Premier, John Brumby, said it was de- signed to drive eco- nomic growth in regional and rural Victoria by at- tracting jobs and popu- lation growth, major new investment and more opportunities for young
people to keep them liv- ing and working locally.
Ms Allan said it deliv- ered a new vision, backed by record fund- ing, to secure the future prosperity of regional and rural Victoria.
The chair of the Meeniyan and District Community Bank Steer- ing Committee, Lindsay Moore, said he was very happy that the commit- tee’s application for fund- ing for a feasibility study had been successful.
“We just need to get our pledge total up a bit and then we can get started on the feasibility study,” he said.
There has already been a lot of support for a community bank at Meeniyan. Envisaged is a branch of the Bendigo Bank, following the model which has be- come successful around Australia.
Mr Moore is hopeful the requisite total in pledges will be achieved soon so that the study – the committee has an independent consultant in the wings – can start before the end of the year.
Although several mil- lion dollars have been earmarked for projects in the Gippsland region and the region is set to share in other statewide projects, there is very lit- tle specifically for South Gippsland in the gov- ernment’s ‘Ready for T omorrow’ blueprint The bank feasibility study is one of the few – possibly the only – ex- ceptions.
The Shadow Minister for Regional and Rural Development, Peter Ryan, said the govern- ment’s promises fell well short of the long-term
funding commitment re- gional Victoria needed to build capacity.
Mr Ryan, who is also the member for Gipps- land South, said the blueprint was a pale imi- tation of the Coalition’s promised $1 billion Re- gional Growth Fund.
“Under John Brumby’s plan regional funding priorities are set from Melbourne and pay no heed to the advice of regional and rural com- munities or their indi- vidual interests and needs,” he said.
“A feature of the Coa- lition’s initiative is to have local regional de- velopment committees not only identifying projects but controlling 40 per cent of the $1 bil- lion Regional Growth Fund to deliver them.
“Under the Brumby Government regional cit- ies and country commu-
nities will be faced with a rigid and confusing web of grant programs that offer no flexibility.”
Mr Ryan claimed that the government had bol- stered the bottom line of its blueprint by including funding for programs that formed a normal part of core government ex- penditure.
“Many programs in the blueprint provide fund- ing for core service de- livery like the Better Re- gional Roads program that receives funding through the Victorian Transport Plan. There is no way of knowing if this funding will supplement or simply replace fund- ing through these pro- grams.
“It is embarrassing and disappointing that after almost 11 years in government, this is the best John Brumby can produce for regional Vic- toria,” Mr Ryan said.