Victoria’s Coalition has promised to provide more than $2-million for an aquatic splash-park project in Horsham if it wins next month’s state election.
The Liberal-nationals made the pledge in a big day of announcements for the Opposition, which also declared it would invest $1-billion in a regional roads program.
Member for Lowan Emma Kealy announced a promise for money for Horsham Aquatic Centre development shortly before Coalition leader Matthew Guy raised the stakes with a profound statewide announcement.
Ms Kealy, constantly travelling across one of the biggest electorates in the state, has been a major campaigner for roads investment.
She has been outspoken and highly critical of the Labor government’s handling of roads maintenance and has constantly lobbied and petitioned for action.
Mr Guy, in his announcement, said the roads funding was part of a proposed ‘life-saving’ Road Fix Blitz, designed to maintain and improve roads before they began to break down.
He said under the program Vicroads would develop an annual works schedule based on community and stakeholder input.
Funding would be made up of $400-million for a Country Roads and Bridges Program, another $400-million for targeted road restoration and a $200-million boost for general road maintenance. Mr Guy added the program would be in addition to existing Vicroads road-maintenance and restoration projects.
Ms Kealy was busy yesterday with Nationals upper-house candidate Jo Armstrong and Horsham municipal representatives announcing the promise for Horsham Aquatic Centre and had been expecting the roads-funding announcement.
“It is a massive commitment but it is an important move if we want to have efficient, reliable and, importantly, safe roads as we work on trying to decentralise our state’s growing population,” she said.
“Reducing speed limits to try to compensate for dangerous road conditions or rushed patchup jobs just does not cut it.
“We need real investment and to plan for better roads in the Wimmera and across the rest of regional Victoria.”
Ms Kealy has also promoted the need for Wimmera tourism drawcards and was ecstatic about the Liberal-nationals’ guarantee to invest money into a water play and splash park.
“We’ve already committed $150,000 to kick-start plans to develop a Wimmera River precinct to boost tourism and grow the local economy and this would complement these plans perfectly,” she said.
“A water play and splash park will be a fantastic addition to our region to attract visitors, and more tourists means more money in our region to support local businesses and jobs,” Ms Kealy said.
“Something we’ve been talking about in the Wimmera for a long time is how we can get our younger people to be more active more often, because we know it makes for a healthier community – not just from a fitness perspective, but to get people together to talk and to communicate. Our social health is always stronger if we can do this.
“There is so much in our region but we need to get more people to understand what we have here and to stay another day.”
Horsham Rural City Council has plans for the splash-park project, much of which will include developing the northern end of the aquatic centre’s outdoor pool area.
Ms Kealy, in responding to Horsham councillor Cr Les Power about funding time frames, said the funding would be scheduled for 2020.
“So not too far away – enough time to iron out what exactly it would look like. I know there are some great plans as part of a masterplan for the precinct,” she said.
“But we also need to look at what we could fit in there.
“Maybe it would include a water slide, which would be pretty awesome, but we would see what we could pull together with the money.” roll-out
MAKING A SPLASH: Member for Lowan Emma Kealy, left, and Nationals Western Victoria region upperhouse candidate Jo Armstrong had willing allies Kirby Brown, Alice Newall, Abbey Brown and Maisie Newall in announcing a Coalition promise to fund splash-park development at Horsham Aquatic Centre. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER