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By Luke Voogt

A coalition MP has broken ranks with his Geelong colleagues over their calls to locate the city’s convention centre at Western Beach.
Debate on the centre’s location was “a bit late” given the State Government had all but decided on its preferred site at Deakin University, Mr Ramsay said.
Federal Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson and State South Barwon MP Andrew Katos recently suggested Western Beach as the alternative to a Deakin University car park.
“If we have ongoing debate of where it is to be built it never will be,” the Member for Western Victoria said.
“I appreciate there are different views on the most appropriate site and any number of politicians have expressed a view, despite the proposed convention centre not being in their electorates.
“My preference would be the conference centre in the botanical gardens which has ample parking, room for a hotel and a Corio Bay vista but again I assume this option had been discarded.“
The State Government refused Mr Ramsay’s calls in parliament yesterday to release the business case for locating the centre at the car park.
“I’ve been advised by Regional Development Victoria that (the business case has) been concluded,” he said.
“The Andrews Government needs to come clean with the project design and siting and put some dollars behind it. What’s the issue? This has been going on for two years.”
The Andrew Government’s failure to release the business case had generated the debate about the best location for the site, Mr Ramsay said.
“I have over a number of years called on the Andrews Government to show us the plans and then show us the money.”
Discussions with Deakin University for a trade-off for the use of the car park had all but been concluded, Mr Ramsay said.
Six weeks ago the City of Greater Geelong indicated to Mr Ramsay that it had alternative land to replace the car park, he said.
But Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford denied Mr Ramsay’s claims.
“These discussions are ongoing so it’s inaccurate for Mr Ramsay to assume they have concluded,” she said.
“Work is currently underway to ensure every avenue is explored to deliver a facility that is viable and sustainable and best meets the economic interests of the region.”
Ms Pulford refused to release the business case in parliament due to it being commercial in confidence.
“The Deakin site is the proposed location as was identified in the Central Geelong Revitalisation Plan,” she said
“We want Geelong to have a world-class convention centre that is close to public transport, centrally located and reflects the Geelong community’s views.
“Work is currently underway to ensure every avenue is explored to deliver a facility that is viable and sustainable and best meets the economic interests of the region.”
Deakin University chief operating officer Kean Selway declined to comment on alternative locations for the carpark.
“Deakin looks forward to continuing to work in partnership on this important project,” he said.
“However, there is currently no agreement confirming the Waterfront campus carpark as the site for a future convention centre.”
Mr Ramsay, Ms Henderson’s former romantic partner, also broke ranks with the Victorian Liberal Party last year on its position on onshore gas exploration, which the party later reversed.

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