City Deal must become reality

Despite lots of promises a City Deal for Geelong and the Great Ocean Road has yet to be agreed and signed, even with a federal election on our doorstep.

Prime Minister Morrison last October announced his government would contribute $154 million to a City Deal funding package for a list of specific projects in Geelong and the wider region.

The State Government in its 2018 Budget allocated just over $153 million to negotiate a City Deal.

The Federal Opposition has also committed to provide $153 million to what it calls a ‘City Partnership’, if successful at the next federal election.

The City of Greater Geelong has committed $15 million to a City Deal.

However, the relevant federal, state and local governments must now agree on the specific project elements and funding breakdowns.

That’s where there is a problem.

The State Government has yet to publicly specify a funding breakdown for its three major preferred project areas:

• Geelong Convention & Exhibition Centre
• Shipwreck Coast Master Plan
• Revitalising Central Geelong.

Whereas the Federal Government has been very specific about its preferred projects, with a number not aligning to the three project areas outlined by the State.

G21 Board members will travel to Canberra later this month to meet with key ministers, shadow ministers and their advisers, specifically in relation to a City Deal.

In particular, the delegation will seek assurances on the status of state-federal City Deal negotiations, proposed governance arrangements and the expected timing for signing the City Deal agreement.

With an election looming, it is now critical that a deal be finalised and an agreement signed and locked down.  Voters deserve to go to the election knowing that a deal has been done.

And they deserve to know that all projects flagged by the Coalition Government for the City Deal will be honoured and funded by a Labor Government, whether through a City Deal or elsewhere, should Labor be successful at the election.