Leaders call for partnership

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Ash Bolt

Geelong’s community leaders have put together a united front to call for an urgent partnership between state and federal governments to manage Geelong’s rapid population growth.

Geelong’s leading advocacy groups have written to the prime minister, premier, opposition leaders and other MPs to make the case for substantial co-investment in number of key projects to revitalise Geelong and unlock its economic, social and tourism potential.

The push, called the Geelong Collective, involves the City of Greater Geelong, Committee for Geelong, the G21Geelong Region Alliance, Geelong Chamber of Commerce, Geelong Manufacturing Council and Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine.

Among its key priorities is improved transport connections with the group calling for $250 million for the second stage of the Barwon Heads Road duplication, as well as improvements to public transport.

Identified public transport projects include a dedicated train station at Avalon as part of the Geelong Fast Rail and funding to find a public transport solution between Geelong and Torquay.

The group is also calling for $15 million to for upgrades at GeelongPort to accommodate the Spirit of Tasmania’s move, as well as growing Aboriginal cultural tourism in the region and greater support for business recovery and investment attraction.

Other key areas on the group’s wishlist include funding to accelerate projects that focus on clean energy, clean tech and circular economy; measures to address Greater Geelong’s housing crisis; and development of Geelong as a world-class destination for sport and major events.

With Geelong set to play a major role in hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games the group said it was vital a Regional Sports and Events Centre, catering for up to 5000 spectators, was supported.

The centre would also address growing demand for indoor-based sports in the region and further the diversification of Geelong’s economy.

“Geelong is the capital of a rapidly expanding region which contributes $20 billion to the Victorian economy each year,” G21 Geelong Region Alliance chief executive Giulia Baggio said.

“To manage this growth, we urgently need affordable housing, a modern transport network, and investment in emerging industries that will provide high quality jobs for thousands of people who are choosing to make Geelong their home.”

Committee for Geelong chief executive Jennifer Cromarty said there needed to be a focus on infrastructure upgrades as Geelong’s population continued to grow.

“Geelong is growing faster than any other regional city in Australia,” she said.

“Over the coming decades, the need for significant investment in infrastructure to manage our growth is profound.

“Key to this is ongoing and long-term commitments from government to our roads, rail and public transport networks.”

Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine executive director Brett Ince added funding from all levels of government was vital to Geelong’s future.

“State and federal government support of these priorities will help unlock Geelong’s economic and tourism potential while ensuring our city is an appealing, well-connected destination for locals and visitors well into the future,” he said.

“All six organisations have worked closely together to determine this list of priority projects which will support the sustainable growth and revitalisation of Geelong.”