THERE may not be a lot of cost-of-living relief in the state budget for Mornington Peninsula residents but depending on which side of the political spectrum you’re on it’s not all bad news.
Hastings Labor MP Paul Mercurio was busy last week making announcements about infrastructure and service improvements, particularly for boating and transport.
Apart from Wednesday’s promise of a cross-peninsula bus service, the budget provided $271,000 to replace the northern pontoon at Hastings boat ramp, $100,000 for Community House Network Southern Region, $1 million each for Somers and Somerville primary schools for basketball court covers, $900,000 to upgrade the Tankerton, French Island boat ramp, and $27.30 million for the Victorian Clean Energy Terminal project, Hastings.
Mercurio said he was “very happy with what the electorate of Hastings received in what was a very tight budget”.
“Having a seat at the table meant I was able to talk with ministers and get some of things that my community was asking for,” he said.
“Of course there is much more work to do, work which has begun, and I look forward to seeing what we can achieve in next year’s budget.”
Mornington MP Liberal Chris Crewther called it a “horror budget” saying he was disappointed and accusing the government of short-changing his electorate.
“Labor’s budget slogan is ‘doing what matters’ – but doing what matters for who?” he said.
Crewther said Mornington Special Developmental School was the only recipient of money for an ongoing existing project in his electorate, which covers Mornington, Mount Eliza, Mount Martha, Tuerong and parts of Baxter and Moorooduc.
“There is unspecified funding for Mount Eliza North Primary School among a $20 million fund covering many schools for planning for works, but not yet the $11.7 million of funding for them that Labor promised,” he said.
“Disappointedly, there is no much-needed infrastructure funding for Mount Eliza Secondary College and Mornington Park Primary School.”
Crewther said residents would be hit by increases to land tax and the schools tax on independent schools, which will “undoubtedly” flow through to increased fees.
While there was money (believed to be about $10 million) for existing sewer and waste water works, there was nothing for coastal erosion fixes, such as for Shire Hall, Hawker and Mount Martha North and South beaches, apart from VicCoast money “so perhaps some money could be shared from that”.
“Labor continues to allow the marginality of seats and an MP’s party to dictate budgeting allocations,” Crewther said.
Nepean MP Liberal Sam Groth said Rye Primary School received $42,000 of its promised $200,000 for new playgrounds.
“Eastbourne Primary School was promised $ 9.5 million and has been included in the school upgrades delivery fund,” he said.
“This fund plans for future investment and aims to be completed by 2024/25, so at this stage there is no capital funding for Eastbourne Primary,” Groth said.
“Dromana pier has been included in the more piers, jetties and opportunities [program]. There has been $6.9m allocated for the next two years, across four projects around the state. Post 2024/25 there is no future funding listed. This leaves Dromana pier well short of the $10 million they were promised.”
Groth said there had been $477,000 added to the existing works at Rosebud Secondary School and there was $1 million for statewide youth projects including scouts and guides.
However, there was no extra money for Rosebud Hospital, the Jetty Road, Rosebud overpass, sound barriers on the Mornington Peninsula Freeway, Dromana College stadium or Flinders pier.
Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Cr Steve Holland said he welcomed the money to upgrade Dromana pier and plan for a cross-peninsula bus service.
“Council has advocated hard for better public transport connections and more funding to maintain our foreshore infrastructure, especially our much-loved piers and jetties,” he said.
He said money for a new comprehensive women’s health clinic at Frankston Hospital would benefit peninsula residents, but money was “urgently needed to upgrade ageing infrastructure at Rosebud Hospital”.
“Our community deserves a modern hospital with more specialist services to deliver community healthcare needs closer to home. A minimum 45 minutes to travel to Frankston Hospital for acute and emergency care puts people’s lives at risk,” he said,
“Of most concern in the budget is the move to slash the Growing Suburbs Fund from $50 million to $10 million. This will have a big impact on the Mornington Peninsula and the 15 other councils which share that fund.”
He said having access to the Growing Suburbs Fund had enabled council to finance the new Alexandra Park, Mornington pavilion and the Southern Peninsula Youth Hub.
“The slashing of this fund will make it even harder for council to secure funding to tackle our community’s growing infrastructure needs,” Holland said.
First published in the Mornington News – 29th May 2023