Show us the money
BASS MLA Brian Paynter is looking to see at least $20 million for the Wonthaggi education precinct and substantial funding for the Wonthaggi hospital allocated in this year’s start budget.
Six ministers descended on the region on Friday, April 1, with no life changing funding promises made in Bass Coast and now Mr Paynter wants to see some action.
“The education precinct – which will benefit Wonthaggi Secondary College and the wider community – needs at least $20 million,” he said.
“Bass Coast Health (BCH) is an ongoing funding project. It needs at least $100 million to get it up to subregional status.”
While BCH received $30,000 for clinical services during the ministerial visit, Wonthaggi Secondary College was left in limbo as it awaits the announcement of the State Government budget.
Mr Paynter said the visit was extremely worthwhile, but now it is time the ministers deliver.
“They are the ministers for all of Victoria and they have a responsibility over everyone in all areas. It is important they make themselves available and see things firsthand. It’s one thing for me to consistently raise these issues in parliament, but there’s no substitute for firsthand experience,” he said.
“However, it is now time to see some funds. A number of Bass Coast issues have been a political football for years and it needs to stop. Bass Coast is so important – it is a critical area in Victoria – and it needs to be recognised for its strengths.”
Mr Paynter would also like to see the profile of Wonthaggi lifted with the addition of an education precinct in McKenzie Street and a subregional hospital.
“The medical facility and the education precinct can’t be ignored. They are part of everyday life and would make the town more attractive,” he said.
Deputy Premier and Education Minister James Merlino made his second visit to Wonthaggi Secondary College in six months, which heightened the expectancy of funding promise for an education precinct in the next budget.
“We would be bitterly disappointed if the second visit didn’t come to anything and all it did was provide false hope,” he said.
“It is so important that we build this precinct. Having the opportunity to build a new secondary college, TAFE and university will help our students achieve higher results and give them the opportunity to discover career opportunities. Many students in inner suburban areas have opportunities our students just don’t have here and it would be excellent to give tertiary options right here in the country.”
Mr Paynter was in the same frame of mind towards to BCH, and said it’s time the hospital was given subregional status.
“Jill Hennessy (Minister for Health) visited once again, but we already know what the problem is. The hospital needs to be upgraded. We can’t have people travelling for hours just to receive basic hospital care. It’s great she was able to come down and talk about it, but we already know what needs to change,” he said.
Another Bass Coast strength in need of attention is its tourism appeal. While Minister for Tourism and Major Events John Eren launched at $3.5 million ecotourism venture at Wilson’s Promontory during his visit, Bass Coast was left to fend for itself.
“I’d like to see the Penguin Parade receive budget funding. It’s Victoria’s second most visited tourist attraction and we need to build on that,” Mr Paynter said.
Regardless, Mr Paynter saw the visit as a huge benefit for his campaign to raise the profile of Bass Coast.
“Now I can look them in the eye and say ‘you’ve seen it’. My approach has always been non-adversarial, but based on mutual respect and common sense, and now I can continue raise this issues knowing we have the same level of understanding,” he said.
“In the past 17 years, Labor has been in government for 13, so they can’t say they haven’t had any opportunities. It’s time to deliver.”
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