G21 takes revised priorities to Canberra
G21 at its recent annual forum unveiled a revised set of priority projects for the region as a basis of its advocacy program through to the next state and federal elections.
The G21 Board will discuss the revised priorities with politicians during a delegation to Canberra next month (October 2019).
The 15 previous priorities were reviewed by the board and refined to 12 projects, some of which are multi-faceted.
Projects which had been funded, or largely funded, were removed, while emerging regional needs were added.
G21 identifies regional priorities in order to maximise the clarity and effectiveness of its advocacy messages.
When meeting with state or federal politicians and their advisers presenting a short well-prepared case for each project has maximum impact.
The revised advocacy priorities are (in alphabetical order):
The G21 region has communities which are among Victoria’s most disadvantaged.
A region is only as good as the way it cares for its most disadvantaged members.
G21 believes disadvantage can best be tackled through combined measures such as job creation, accessible education, improved health and wellbeing facilities and affordable housing. For example:
- the G21 Region Opportunities for Work (GROW) project encouraging public and private sector spending on local suppliers and products to create new jobs for people from disadvantaged areas;
- the Northern ARC (Arts, Recreation & Community) Health and Wellbeing Hub proposed for Norlane which would be a world-class integrated facility to address disadvantage in northern Geelong;
- Colac's Education, Recreation and Community Precinct which would help address high-level disadvantage by creating an active learning community, especially an Integrate Early Years Hub to deliver services to families and children 0-8 years;
- Winchelsea's Walk Rest ‘n’ Play concpt to provide that community with access to quality recreational facilities and activities locally and at no cost. Winchelsea is the Surf Coast’s most disadvantaged community. The concept includes a new oval, a river trail and adventure playground; and
- Bannockburn's proposed innovative, contemporary youth space to help ensure a strong, resilient youth culture by catering for the needs of the community's rapidly growing youth population.
Avalon Airport has cemented itself as a major economic and community asset for the G21 region. Yet its full potential is yet to be realised.
G21 continues to advocate for government support for:
- attracting new domestic and international airlines to Avalon;
- the airport to be part of any Melbourne-Geelong rail plans;
- for parity with Tullamarine in government charges to the airport;f
- or assistance to develop new freight and commercial opportunities; and
- ongoing support of the Avalon Airshow.
Central Geelong Revitalisation
G21 continues to support implementation of the Revitalising Central Geelong Action Plan which sets out measures to drive change in central Geelong, allowing the city area to maximise its economic growth and cultural potential.
This includes expanding the Malop Street Green Spine, continuing rejuvenation and connection of city laneways, an improved City Mall precinct, redesigned public transport arrangements and enhancements to the cultural precinct.
G21 Regional Growth Areas
The Armstrong Creek Urban Growth Area priority project has been expanded to include the proposed Northern Geelong and Western Geelong growth areas.
The proposed Northern Geelong Growth Area, located in the Lovely Banks area, will eventually accommodate 48,000 people and the Western Geelong Growth Area, located in the Batesford area, will have a population of 62,000.
Provision of infrastructure and community facilities such as roads, schools and emergency services require state government support and funding.
G21 Regional Harbours
A new priority project combines three former projects:
- Apollo Bay Harbour needs investment for its ongoing viability as a working harbour and visitor drawcard, including quality tourist infrastructure and community facilities. A recent state government announcement of $1.35 million to carry out maintenance work and channel dredging is a good start.
- Portarlington Safe Harbour and pier and harbour wall have recently undergone a major upgrade. Commercial infrastructure investment and nearby road, pedestrian and public facilities are now needed.
- Geelong Waterfront Safe Harbour Precinct incorporating the Royal Geelong Yacht Club has received multi-level government funding. It needs further support to be fully funded. The project includes a new floating pier to protect the marina, additional floating-berths, revamped club facilities and upgrades to adjacent public areas.
G21 Regional Road Connections
Key road links within the region need investment, including:
- upgrading freight connections to GeelongPort for better access to heavy transports from Melbourne and the Western District;
- upgrading the Midland Highway to accommodate increased traffic as Bannockburn grows rapidly;
- Barwon Heads Road duplication between Settlement Road and Reserve Road to service the rapidly growing Armstrong Creek is funded. Upgrades between Reserve and Lower Duneed roads have yet to be funded;
- Constructing Bellarine Link (Geelong Ring Road extension) to the Bellarine Peninsula in an East-West direction, linking Baanip Boulevard to Barwon Heads Road requires funding; and
- Bacchus Marsh Road duplication is required to meet current and future traffic demands, including that to be generated from the proposed Northern Geelong Growth Area.
G21 Regional Secondary Schools & Community Digital Learning Hub and Ecosystem
The proposed Digital Learning Hub would deliver optimum high-speed internet of 1Gbs to meet the learning requirements of students and teachers at all of the region’s secondary schools.
The state government’s recently-announced broadband upgrades at the state’s schools are welcome, but will fall well short of the Digital Learning Hub proposal, leaving school children continuing to battle slow internet in class.
Geelong Cultural Precinct
The implementation of the Arts & Cultural Precinct Master Plan is well underway with refurbishment of the Old Courthouse Building and the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre completed. The Ryrie Street Geelong Arts Centre redevelopment will be completed late 2019, while the Little Malop Street redevelopment will start in 2020.
Funding is required for a final element of the Arts Centre upgrade and for a major redevelopment of the space-poor Geelong Art Gallery.
Great Ocean Road
G21’s campaigning over the last five years the Great Ocean Road has resulted in much-needed structural and maintenance roadworks which are now underway. Facilities along the road will also benefit under the Geelong and Great Ocean Road federal-state City Deal.
However, enhancing the road and its environment remains an ongoing advocacy project for G21.
Protecting the natural environment, improving road safety, upgrading visitor experiences through initiatives such as the Shipwreck Coast Master Plan, enhancing adventures trails and fostering developments in order to attract and retain visitors for longer stays are all important.
Water For Our Future
Projections show the Geelong region is facing possibly its biggest ever challenge; the need to find an additional supply of water within 10 years or risk running out.
G21 is working with Barwon Water on an innovative Water for our Future program to partner with regional leaders and the wider community to plan for sourcing and managing water for the region’s future.
Port of Geelong growth
The Port of Geelong operated by GeelongPort is an economic linchpin in the G21 region as the largest bulk cargo port and regional port in Victoria, which needs to be fostered.
This includes advocating for improved road, rail and channel links and protecting adjoining land essential to the port’s growth.
Regional Rail Connections
Public transport services in the G21 region need to be upgraded to improve travel times, capacity and frequency of services travelling to Melbourne, as well as connectivity within the region.
Government promises have been made about fast-rail to Melbourne, yet plans are still unclear and timeframes are distant. As the region grows rapidly and existing services are already inadequate this is an increasingly urgent issue.