Spotlight on our priorities ahead of State Election

A suite of advocacy priorities has been developed to push the case for East Gippsland at the upcoming State Election.

East Gippsland Shire Council on Tuesday adopted its updated Advocacy Strategy, including 37 priorities that fall under the Council Plan 2021-25 themes of ‘Our Communities’, ‘Our Place’, ‘Our Environment’, ‘Our Economy’ and ‘Our Council’.

Mayor, Cr Mark Reeves said the list was a blend of the immediate, medium and longer-term needs, challenges and opportunities for the shire.

“The priorities consider the environmental, waste and social issues, infrastructure projects, policy, Council’s responsibilities, and the shire’s economic prosperity,” Cr Reeves said.

“Having a current and fluid list of priorities is important, particularly during election periods. Many of the priorities are targeted at the Victorian Government and we look forward to engaging with the current Government and elected representative, and candidates ahead of the November polls.”

Priorities with a State Election focus:

• Homelessness – a dedicated (non-competitive) funding allocation from the Victorian ‘Big Housing Build’ to address homelessness and the lack of affordable housing.

• Long-term bushfire recovery and community resilience – support for bushfire recovery services until at least year five.

• Active ageing – awareness campaigns, events, activities and programs.

• Mitchell River Bridge duplication – funding for detailed design of the bridge and realignment of sections of the Princes Highway into a road reserve managed by the State.

• Shared approach to fire management – funding for local governments to review emergency management strategies to ensure appropriate resourcing.

• Bairnsdale Aerodrome upgrade – $6 million for the development of terminal building upgrade and taxiway improvements.

• Bullumwaal Road (Wy Yung), Marlo Road (Orbost-Marlo), Benambra-Corryong Road and Great Alpine Road upgrades.

• Industrial land supply – direct intervention and sufficient funding to enable planning for and rezoning of industrial land.

• Coastal hazards and assets renewal – ongoing funding to support aspirations of the Marine and Coastal Act.

• Lakes Entrance Indoor Stadium – funding for the design and planning for the relocation and expansion of a multi-court complex.

• Environment – climate change mitigation, a Gippsland Lakes health audit, coastal risk management, strategic firebreaks and roadside vegetation, returning 50% of landfill levies back to Council for waste management initiatives, and natural resource management strategic partnerships.

• Education – $600,000 for the next phase of transforming the Bairnsdale Hub into a collaborative education centre, and finalisation of funding to upgrade Bairnsdale Secondary College.

• Native timber industry transition – extending Local Development Strategies funding to impacted communities, replacing clear-fell harvesting with a new approach to silviculture, providing sawlogs for timber processing and support the use of forest resources by a range of users.

• Rate capping – engagement with local government in advance of the next setting of the rate cap.

• School crossing supervision – that the State fully funds school crossing supervision and does not impose costs on ratepayers and residents for a service unrelated to core local government functions.

Council adopted its first Advocacy Strategy and priorities list last November.

“I’m pleased to report that, so far, we’ve been able to deliver on several priorities. These include securing funding for the upgrade of the Bairnsdale Aerodrome ($9.9 million), support for bushfire recovery services, youth programs, and community resilience projects; and the Buchan Recreation Reserve upgrade,” Cr Reeves said.

“We have successfully advocated for the development of an agricultural training hub ($1 million) at Gippsland Agriculture Group site near the Bairnsdale Airport, and support for an increase in public housing.”

“With others, Council has advocated for critical projects and investment in East Gippsland commensurate with the impact of the 2019/20 fires. This resulted in more than $30 million of investment in projects as part of the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants.”

Cr Reeves said advocacy on behalf of the community was an important role for Council.

“Our advocacy efforts are strong throughout the year, and as issues arise we are proactive. An election provides more opportunities to explain our community’s priorities and seek support and commitments. We look forward to meeting with candidates ahead of the November polls,” Cr Reeves said.

Council will provide all relevant Australian and Victorian government Ministers and Shadow Ministers, local MPs and State Election candidates with detail on the new suite of advocacy priorities. Council will also invite candidates for the seat of Gippsland East to meet ahead of the election.

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