G21 Snapshots

Snapshots is a monthly report on activity at G21.

Affordable Housing update

G21 is keen to improve housing affordability in the region for both social and economic reasons. We are all aware of the problem in gaining a workforce in towns such as Lorne because of the cost of housing. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg and the affordability of housing is at an all time low.The G21 Affordable Housing Taskforce chaired by Pat Semmens has moved on two fronts to tackle this issue. Firstly, you would be aware that G21, with the support of the City of Greater Geelong and our local MPs Darren Cheeseman and Richard Marles, staged a forum on the issue at which both Federal Minister Tania Plibersek and State Minister Justin Maddern spoke.In parallel with this, G21 sought expressions of interest for one of the eight current Registered Housing Associations to partner with the region in accessing State and Federal funds and delivering projects in the area. We are currently finalising an agreement that will see the registering of a local subsidiary of the successful tenderer and opening of a local office. Several projects are already being developed.Housing Associations are an interesting approach to this issue. During our interviews, they pointed out that they took a holistic view of their clients. For example, they support activities that encourage a sense of community and often employed their clients to provide services in their developments.G21 has also submitted an application for funding under the Federal Housing Affordability Fund that would see land releases brought forward in a number of projects across the region. This has the potential to greatly reduce land costs and thus the costs of building a home in these locations.

ICT Cluster progress

Following the G21 Telecommunications Need Assessment (2005) and the subsequent G21 ICT opportunities study which was completed last year, the State Government has provided $100,000 over two years to establish and support the development of an ICT Cluster for the Geelong region. Led by the City of Greater Geelong, the ICT cluster aims to position Geelong as a major ICT precinct in Victoria by taking a collaborative approach to major projects and attracting new business to the Geelong region. It will serve as a lobby group and a business association that provides ICT links to education and industry partners.Members of the cluster include The City of Greater Geelong, Gordon Institute of TAFE, Deakin University, Neighbourhood Cable, Surf Coast Shire, Fox Digital Web, Radiant Systems Asia Pacific Pty and Express Promotions Australia Pty Ltd.

IDC respond to major projects

The State Government Inter Departmental Committee (IDC) provided its formal response to the “G21 Priority Projects” on March 24.The Premier established the IDC for G21 in late 2007 in order to provide cross-departmental consideration for support and funding assistance of major Geelong Region projects. The ten G21 Priority Projects presented to the IDC late last year are seen as vital in giving effect to the Geelong Region Plan, and are endorsed by all Councils in the G21 region. The IDC response provides a comprehensive status report on the progress of each of the projects, along with contacts provided by the relevant State government Department/s to further the projects' progress. G21 is in the process of reviewing the priority projects as we gear up for the 2010 budget process. It is therefore timely to take stock of progress.

Water Security Study released

The first stage of the G21 Priority Project “Secure Water Program” is now complete with the public release of the G21 Secure Water for Economic Development Study (2009) which examines the supply and demand of water for economic purposes in the G21 region. Led by Golden Plains Shire, the report concentrates on areas that are not connected to the mains supply and examines ideas such as using recycled water or local processing of saline groundwater. It examines not just technical feasibility but also financial and regulatory issues that must be overcome in order to provide a co-ordinated region-wide approach to water security. The report finds that Barwon Water's Plans and Actions are very good for the security of potable water supplies and some recycling initiatives; but that they do not fully address the economic development and agricultural needs of the G21 region. The new report identifies these gaps and provides a detailed list of items and actions to address them. The Department of Sustainability and Environment Office for Water and Barwon Water provided valuable reviews of the reports as they were being prepared. The report also identifies the complicated water responsibility structure as a major challenge. G21 has already prepared a submission on third party access rights and met with the EPA to look at some of the rules that apply.