A MULTI-MILLION dollar wish list of priority projects to further Bendigo’s aspirational goal of being the world’s most liveable community is expected to form a centrepiece of discussions ahead of the federal election expected some time in May.
Projects put forward for funding consideration include the National Chinese Museum of Australia, the Central Deborah Gold Mine redevelopment and the Bendigo Airport terminal.
A document prepared by the City of Greater Bendigo council ahead of the election also lists the establishment of a $30 million regional resource recovery centre, a commitment to reform the aged-care sector and assistance from the next federal government towards “the timely implementation of the Industrial Land Strategy to secure employment for a growing population”, and funding towards the proposed Heathcote dementia village business case.
Mayor Margaret O’Rourke said last month’s announcement by Qantas of a direct air service to Sydney highlighted the need for further work to the terminal building.
“We will certainly be going to the federal government and having a conversation around that about supporting us with some funds to work on our new terminal, but also with the state government as well.”
Cr O’Rourke said officers from the city were in almost daily contact with Qantas as the company continues to consider where it will locate its second training academy, with a decision expected in coming weeks.
“They’ve been very pleased with the bookings that have happened … because as we know the CEO said when he made the announcement in Bendigo, use it or lose it.”
She said the city was working in collaboration with the Bendigo Chinese Association and the Golden Dragon Museum on the National Chinese Museum of Australia project.
The visionary project has the potential to dramatically transform the existing Chinese precinct into Bendigo’s Chinatown, with a planned 180-room, 4.5 star hotel to complement a plan to expand the Golden Dragon Museum and re-brand it as the National Chinese Museum of Australia as part of a move to drive growth in visitation from the lucrative Chinese tourist market.
“We will need to house a lot more artifacts and really, Bendigo is on the map in terms of that and we know that from all the activities that happen at the Easter Festival.”
The $54-million high-end hotel would offer more than 100 jobs once completed, and is expected to be privately funded.
Up to $4.4 million is being sought for a new Bendigo Airport terminal, and the priority document also states that duplication of the rail line between Bendigo and Kyneton is “critical to support the growth of Bendigo and central Victoria, together with any future fast rail or airport link plans”, and that further decentralisation of government jobs can only occur if there is appropriate investment in the relevant infrastructure.
Plans first unveiled by the Weekly in 2018 for Bendigo Heritage Attractions’ overhaul of the Central Deborah complex include a function centre, museum and exhibition space and improved retail spaces.
The city will seek up to two million dollars from the federal government and three million from the state government as part of plans to lift admissions and improve future operations and complement the tourism offer in Bendigo and the region, as part of a package of works described as a “game changer”.
Cr O’Rourke described waste recovery as a serious issue for every council in Australia, and the city’s election prospectus details a projected $30 million regional-scale waste facility within the southern area of the Bendigo region, most likely a waste to energy option to maximise resource recovery for municipal, commercial and industrial waste.
“Challenges around the cost of living, around energy, around waste, all those issues particularly from a local government point of view, I think federally governments haven’t been close to local government and I’d love to see that come back and be a bit closer,” Cr O’Rourke said.
”I think we have to work much more closely with both the state and federal governments.”
– Peter Kennedy