Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — My question is to the Minister for Planning. The past seven years have seen a dramatic turnaround in the prosperity and future prospects of Geelong and south-western Victoria. The Bracks government has worked hard to attract jobs, people and investment to the region, and this has resulted in an increased demand for land supply and services in Geelong. I would like to know what actions the Bracks government is taking to address these issues.
Hon. J. M. MADDEN (Minister for Planning) — I thank Ms Tierney for her interest in this matter and in matters in the Geelong region and the south-west of the state. Members of the chamber should be aware, if they are not already, that we are currently seeing growth across regional areas that is faster than the rate of growth in Melbourne.
For the first time since 1986-87 we have seen two consecutive years of growth in regional Victoria that is faster than the growth rate in Melbourne. Growth to 30 June 2006 has been at an average of 1.4 percent. That has come about because of what this government has done and will continue to do. It is about working hard and investing in regional economies across the state.
In particular we have been working hard in Geelong and the south-west over the past seven years to make sure that we create opportunities to help develop the city and to help develop sustainable growth. It is our priority. We have recently announced, as part of the government’s regional town development plans program, that we will assist five key provincial Victorian centres with funding for future growth. That $500 000 will provide assistance to Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, the Latrobe Valley and Wodonga in technology, training and land supply and demand assessment.
Last week I had the great pleasure of visiting Geelong and announcing that we would be handing over $200 000 to the City of Greater Geelong to help fast track planning on some land to the south of Geelong known as Armstrong Creek, which is being opened up for residential development. This will ensure that the City of Greater Geelong is assisted in finalising the structure planning, investigating the infrastructure needs and funding, and preparing the zoning proposals for the Armstrong Creek growth area. When it has been is completed the Armstrong Creek development will provide in the order of 20 000 lots to accommodate over 50 000 people over the next 25 years or more.
The prospects of that growth in Geelong are very heartening. This, combined with the work that is currently taking place in relation to the ring-road, will see great growth in the region. It will also be complemented by the $5.8 million for the Transit Cities program to revitalise the Geelong city centre, meaning that Geelong is on a fast-track curve to growth.
We will see many people taking up the opportunity to make Geelong a great place to work, live and raise a family, complementing our strategy of investing in the regions and making Victoria an even better place to live, work and raise a family.