THE Geelong region has gained another $50 million towards the Waurn Ponds-South Geelong rail duplication and $20 million for an international terminal at Avalon Airport in the 2018 federal budget.
However, there was no obvious contribution towards Geelong’s City Deal. Corangamite federal member Sarah Henderson defended the lack of dedicated funding, saying there would be money for the City Deal from the unallocated portion of the budget, and that the state government was playing “smoke and mirrors” on the issue.
Both the $50 million and $20 million were announced earlier this week, before Treasurer Scott Morrison handed down the budget on Tuesday night.
Ms Henderson said the new international terminal at Avalon would initially accommodate the arrival and departure of more than 400,000 international passengers annually. She said the 2018 budget’s commitment to the railway duplication took the federal contribution to $150 million, which she estimated was half the project’s $300 million cost.
She said the state government had only allocated $10 million so far, and Victoria must match the federal figure as part of the yet-to-be-finalised Geelong City Deal.
The Victorian government, City of Greater Geelong and local advocacy bodies hoped the federal budget would match the state’s $153 million contribution (made in last week’s state budget) to the City Deal, but this did not happen.
Ms Henderson said the federal government only received limited information from Victoria on the City Deal projects “a couple of weeks ago”, and she was worried that the Shipwreck Coast Master Plan would eventually miss out.
“They haven’t given us full business plans. At the moment, there is a lot of smoke and mirrors.”
Elsewhere in the budget, Ms Henderson highlighted the 65,558 taxpayers in Corangamite that would benefit from tax relief in the coming financial year, with many to receive a new offset of up to $530 a year; and the new $45 million tourism infrastructure fund in the $200 million Building Better Regions Fund.
Labor candidate for Corangamite Libby Coker said the budget had “nothing for the growing townships of Armstrong Creek, Ocean Grove and Torquay and no money for the City Deal”.
“Just like Land 400, Sarah Henderson has failed again. Instead, Sarah’s backing $84 million in cuts to the ABC, $17 billion in cuts to our schools (compared with Labor’s Gonski plan), slashing the pensioner energy supplement and forcing Australians to work until they are 70. All this while giving an $80 billion handout to big business and the banks.”