HE didn’t receive an invite to the Ministerial and community soiree at the old post office building in Wonthaggi recently, but Bass MP Brian Paynter doesn’t care.
He’s just happy some funding might finally be committed to some major projects in his electorate.
The opposition MP described the visit by six Labor ministers for a whirlwind tour of Bass Coast on April Fool’s Day as “fantastic”, but he was also quick to note that apart from $30,000 in funding for Wonthaggi Hospital, nothing else was announced.
“It was like the gunslingers came to town but forgot to bring their guns,” he said.
“But I loved seeing them down here because I have repeatedly been raising many of these issues in Parliament.
“Now they’ve visited the area, they know what I’m talking about.
“It’s time to put more focus on Bass.”
During the visit, Deputy Premier James Merlino strongly hinted at a funding announcement for the relocation and rebuild of Wonthaggi Secondary College’s senior campus, when the State Budget is unveiled on April 27.
Mr Paynter believes there’s “no way” the State Government can back down now.
“They have to fund it,” he said.
“We don’t want $100,000 to fund a planning stage or anything like that – we’re beyond that.
“We need the $21m to build the school.”
Mr Paynter said the Secondary College has been a political football that has been “kicked around far too long”, and he readily acknowledges the disappointment felt by the community when the Coalition promised funding just weeks before the 2014 election, only to have all hopes vanquished when Labor triumphed.
“It’s time for action,” he repeated.
“(They) can’t keep coming down here and saying the same things.
“They are just continuing the talkfest without doing anything.
“Having them all visit Bass Coast is great, but it’s building expectations.”
Aside from the school and overall Education Precinct project, Mr Paynter said he hopes to see some budget joy for Bass Coast Health.
“At a minimum I’d like to see funding for a new service delivery plan,” he said.
Asked if he thought there were matters overlooked by the six-pack of Ministers, Mr Paynter said he’d heard no mention of the electoral structure of Bass Coast, which remains in limbo until the Minister for Local Government, Natalie Hutchins, makes a final decision on whether the ward boundaries will change and there will be two additional councillors on board.
“What’s going on with the council could have easily been addressed,” he said.
“There must be people in the community who are thinking about (standing) and the election is less than six months away.”
Mr Paynter also said he would have asked Water Minister Lisa Neville about the necessity of the State Government’s first order of water from the desalination plant.
“It’s great to come down here, but these are the issues that needed to be talked about.”