By NOEL MURPHY
THE REGION’S five local councils have launched a Yarra Street Pier social media campaign after the state opposition turned its back on their top-priority project.
Targetting Premier Denis Napthine and Greens leader Greg Barber, the campaign of councils alliance body G21 also followed Costa Property Group promoting its ageing Cunningham Pier as an alternative berth for cruise ships.
G21 chief Elaine Carbines described the opposition’s snubbing of the Yarra Street Pier proposal in favour of further Simonds Stadium upgrades as “disappointing”.
“I think the opposition has ruled out supporting the Yarra Street Pier for this election, which is disappointing but that’s their choice,” she said.
“We’re now focusing on local MPs pursuing funding for a business case for the pier. We hope they see the merit – all the five councils do and support the redevelopment of the pier and its benefits.”
G21, comprising Geelong, Surf Coast, Golden Plains, Queenscliff and Colac-Otway councils, expects a Yarra Street Pier for cruise ships to generate $61 million in business locally and $80 million statewide over 10 years, creating 522 jobs and 218 during construction.
Labor this week overlooked the pier proposal to instead committ $70 million to the stadium and $30 million to redevelop Geelong Performing Arts Centre, G21’s equal top priority.
G21’s campaign focussed on Geelong’s potential to capitalise on a burgeoning cruise ship industry, the fastest-growing tourism sector in the world.
Ms Carbines said the campaign was already “creating quite a bit of attention”.
The opposition thought it was on a “vote-winner” with Simonds Stadium, she said..
“But we’re yet to see whether it is or not. It’s an important piece infrastructure to finish off and to…try for nine games a season where at moment it’s only getting seven.
“That’s the gamble the opposition has taken.”
Ms Carbines hoped State Government would support the pier project.
Assessments had showed the project would be “more cost-efficient” than upgrading “the old Cunningham Pier”, she said.
Any consideration of using Cunningham Pier would also have to factor in the Costa group’s sale price, previously put at $20 million.