The State Government has been questioned in the Victorian Parliament about why it redirected $2.5M of $3.1M committed funding away from the Destination Queenscliff project.
Liberal Member for Western Victoria, Simon Ramsay, asked the Minister for Regional Development, Jaala Pulford, why the bulk of the Regional Tourism Infrastructure funding was pulled.
“The Borough of Queenscliff has planned, consulted and committed to this project. It was aimed at revitalising Queenscliff and extending the length of visitor stays,” Mr Ramsay said.
Only 1-2 per cent of the one million tourists a year who use the Queenscliff ferry stay overnight.
“If they stay, they spend,” Mr Ramsay said.
Elements of Destination Queenscliff were jointly funded with the State and Federal Governments.
The project included 3-phase power, public toilets, upgraded kiosk, board walks and 10 new five-star eco-cabins.
But the redirecting of $2.5 million of the State’s $3.1 million contribution has left doubt over what aspects of the project are now funded.
Some local traders were worried the proposed kiosk and 10 eco lodges would take business from them, especially during the slow winter period. Six of the lodges already exist, but were to be upgraded.
Mr Ramsay says Lisa Neville’s removal of $2.5M of the Destination funds and redirection of those to the Hub project is dubious, despite all-round support for the Hub project.
“The council has rightly planned towards Destination Queenscliff with the incentive of knowing it has State and Federal backing. Now it has Federal backing and limited state support.
“This is a very ominous precedent that Lisa Neville is setting just weeks from a State election.
“Should every other council involved in joint projects with the state now be anxious about state funding being pulled at the last minute, leaving a project hanging and a council out of pocket?”
“It’s dangerous territory that requires serious explanation”.