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State election wish list

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By Colin MacGillivray

NINE key infrastructure projects are on a Mitchell Shire Council wish list ahead of November’s state election.

Councillors resolved to concentrate their election advocacy on the nine projects at last month’s ordinary meeting, although Cr David Lowe amended the motion to allow council to advocate for other items.

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The nine projects are: stage one of the Kilmore bypass; Seymour Community Wellbeing Hub; a Hume Freeway interchange at Camerons Lane; Greenhill Recreation Precinct; Beveridge Intermodal Freight Terminal; Hilldene employment precinct; the restoration of Seymour’s Old Goulburn Bridge; a government secondary school for Kilmore; and a fully operational Orange Door family violence service in Wallan.

The Northern Highway bypass in Kilmore is a long-running target of council advocacy, with the State Government having stalled on funding the project since 2014.

The Seymour Community Wellbeing Hub, envisioned as a partnership between council and several health service providers, has been a top priority for council in the north ward.

The Camerons Lane interchange was also the subject of advocacy before the recent federal election, with both the federal Labor and Liberal parties committing to providing money for the project, but the State Government is yet to commit.

The Beveridge Intermodal Freight Terminal was also a key federal election battleground, with the Liberal-Nationals coalition committing to funding the project, while the Victorian Labor government voiced its preference for a freight terminal in in Melbourne’s west before Beveridge.

The need for a government secondary school in Kilmore was highlighted by the closure of Colmont School last week, while the Greenhill Recreation Precinct in Wallan could serve as a sporting hub for the southern half of the shire.

Cr Lowe said council would focus the bulk of its advocacy on the nine items, but would be able to fight for other projects as it saw fit.

“We invest a lot of time, effort and skill in advocacy … to enhance the amount of money we have to spend in the shire, with absolutely fabulous success,” he said.

“This is a change of focus. We’ve been working on the federal election for the last six to nine months and now we’re coming up to the state election, which takes place in November this year.

“My amendment was simply to say that if there are any alternative issues that arise in the intervening time, we don’t exclude them from our advocacy program. I recommend we follow these but don’t close our minds off to alternatives.”

Cr Rob Eldridge said Cr Lowe’s approach would ‘give [council] options going forward’.

“It’s not really taking away from the main thrust of what we’re trying to focus on, but in the time between now and the elections who knows what’s going to come up?” he said.

“It gives us the option to refocus our direction without undue stress.”

Mayor Bill Chisholm said the projects would help to create and maintain a healthy, connected, and sustainable community.

“We’ve identified some truly transformation projects for Mitchell Shire, our community and the region but we can’t deliver these without the help of the State Government,” he said.

“These priorities build upon council’s federal election, Connecting Mitchell campaign focusing on people, jobs and health. While these are Mitchell Shire’s key priority projects, advocacy during the election will continue around all council’s identified projects.”

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