THE Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy visited Wonthaggi on Tuesday with a main item on his agenda – the Wonthaggi Education precinct.
Mr Guy and local MP Brian Paynter were taken on a tour of the Wonthaggi Secondary School by principal Garry Dennis and the pair highlighted that the planned $21 million project is still a priority for the Liberals.
Mr Guy said the Liberals made the commitment to the education precinct at the election, because it was one of the biggest local concerns of the people of Wonthaggi.
“I know the Labor Government had mixed messages; their candidate was in favour of it, the local Upper House member was against it and the government now has no position which is concerning for local residents,” he said.
“I think they just need clarity as to whether the government has any intention of funding any school upgrades or not.
“It wasn’t in the last budget and it doesn’t appear to be considered for the next budget. I simply say if the Labor Government won’t upgrade the school, I will.”
The Opposition Leader noted that peri-urban councils – areas that surround metropolitan areas and cities that are neither urban nor rural – are where population growth can be expected.
He said the government cannot ignore growth pressures in towns like Wonthaggi.
“Focusing on marginal Labor seats in the Frankston corridor at all costs is not a way to build the state,” he said.
“If you want to build the state sustainably, every area has to be considered on merit, not just on electoral need.
“That’s why the government’s focusing only on the Frankston corridor – every day we see the government making level crossing announcements on the Frankston corridor.
“In these peri-urban areas, particularly in areas like the Shire of Moorabool and the Shire of Bass Coast, there are towns that are just outside of the growth areas that have almost been forgotten about for decades.
“That’s why I think it’s important to come down and see first-hand some of the issues in Wonthaggi and actually walk through the school.
“(Wonthaggi Secondary College) is certainly very disjointed, there’s no doubt about it.
“A lot of the architecture is very different. While the school is definitely a good school academically, there’s no doubt that kids and the teachers would benefit from a better learning environment. That’s where I think a rebuild is certainly on the cards.”
Despite the Wonthaggi Education Precinct’s omission from the budget, Mr Paynter has vowed to continue to fight for improved education facilities in
the area.
He said he has been in the ear of the Minister for Education, James Merlino.
“He can’t walk past me in the corridors of parliament without me asking him down here to see first-hand what’s needed here in Wonthaggi,” he said.
“In terms of education, this is the number one project for me and I won’t rest until it’s delivered.
“I’ve said it before, the quality of education being provided here is first class, but the facilities need to be upgraded. We need room to move and we need room to expand.
“I’ve also spoken to Garry Dennis about getting a concerted community force, so we get a united front with the council, the business association, the local builders and local education providers.
“It’s so important that we all get behind this project and we all make a noise.
“For too long, Wonthaggi people haven’t made a strong enough noise about this education precinct.
“It’s about trying to make that change so we need to have a strong, united and very vocal front to say to the (Education) department, the Minister of Education and the government of the day, that we want this project delivered.”