I had the pleasure of attending a Transforming Geelong media event last week with the Premier, Geelong deputy mayor Bruce Harwood, and federal Member for Corangamite Sarah Henderson. It was a day when Geelong came to Melbourne to say that as a second-tier city, Geelong is a great place to live, work and play, with its natural environment of hinterland, beaches and the beautiful Corio Bay.
It was a day that Quintessential was announced the successful tenderer for a new $121 million building to house 700 WorkSafe employees, while also competing for the new ABS and NDIA headquarters.
Businesses joined together — from wineries on the Bellarine Peninsula to radiator manufacturers in North Geelong — to show a unity of strength and purpose that Geelong is the place to be.
In recent years the regional city has experienced the largest growth in Victoria, outside of Melbourne. There are five million visitors to the region each year, with over $3.6 billion worth of major investments either recently completed, including the $277 million Epworth Geelong hospital. Investments worth $1.4 billion for the ring road precinct alone have created work for almost 1500 people.
My hope is that the new Geelong planning development authority is able to push along projects such as the convention centre, but my fear is that it is just a toothless tiger. It is yet to approve one project and still has no business case or preferred site for the much-needed and well-supported convention centre.
The most disappointing blight on the city and its regional landscape is the current commissioner investigation into the City of Greater Geelong for poor governance and bullying charges. Both past Mayor Keith Fagg and current Mayor Darryn Lyons have seen firsthand this regime at work. Despite the ongoing investigation, even last week Cr Jan Farrell, Cr Libby Coker and the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union’s John Setka were sharing tweets trying to belittle those who were opposed to the council gifting millions of dollars of land.
Geelong and the region have a lot to offer, as do smaller cities such as Warrnambool, Shepparton, Ballarat and Bendigo. They just need to clean out the dead wood and allow our passionate, visionary and compassionate leaders to keep their feet on the ground and their heads out of the clouds, so that cities like Geelong will continue to prosper.
Simon Ramsay MP