Shire seeks $320m rescue package


BOTH state and federal governments are being asked to launch a life raft to ease economic and social hardship on the Mornington Peninsula in the wake of the coronavirus emergency.

The shire’s $320 million recovery wish list ranges from housing for the homeless to a technology park.

Estimated costs are just as variable, with the homeless “package” put at $2.5 million, a plan to use recycled water coming in at $27.3m and road safety $130m.

In its approach to both governments the shire says the Mornington Peninsula has “suffered one of the heaviest hits to employment in the state”, with 6000 jobs lost and a 21 per cent fall in gross regional product, well above the 6.9 per cent drop for Australia.

Hardest hit sectors across the shire are accommodation, food, retail, construction, arts and recreation.

At the same time, there was a serious lack of testing centres for the coronavirus south of Frankston.

The shire describes the outlook as “bleak” with “alarming [Australian Bureau of Statistics] and independent research figures painting a dire picture for the region”.

“This combined with a raft of social and economic challenges already faced by our residents creates significant roadblocks in our efforts to get back on road to economic recovery,” the shire states in its bid for government help.

As well as the technology park , recycled water use and homeless housing, the shire’s suggested projects, include the Peninsula Bay Trail ($15m); The Briars ($10.6m); “better buses” ($10m); “community facilities” ($17.8m); and, pavilions ($18.5m).

However, the shire’s plea for help with projects costed at more than $320 million comes at a time when both state and federal governments are winding back their various stimulus packages.

“We have identified a suite of shovel ready infrastructure and service projects that are ready to go right now and would create over 4770 jobs for our community and the Victorian economy,” the mayor Cr Sam Hearn said.

“We invite our state and federal government colleagues to support these investment opportunities to kick start our recovery and support the local community and the state with much needed employment”.

Cr Hearn said the shire had “close to the lowest average rates and charges in Victoria” while demonstrating “high efficiency among the lowest employee costs”.

“We have pulled a number of financial levers to manage our way through this challenging period but we need additional financial support to realise the significant community benefits this suite of ready to go projects will deliver,” he said.

“We know both tiers of government are looking for opportunities to kick start the economy, so I urge them to talk to us, our projects can start tomorrow”.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 23 June 2020


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