Coali­tion pledges

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Front Page - BY DEAN LAW­SON

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.”

Re­cre­ation draw­card

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

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