BENDIGO welcomed politicians from across the state as the Legislative Council sat in the Town Hall on Thursday.
City of Greater Bendigo mayor Alec Sandner used his address to the opening of the sitting this morning to highlight the importance of partnerships with other levels of government.“Our population is forecast to grow from its present level of 105,000 to 143,000 by 2030 – a mere 18 years away,” he said.
“We do not want to be a city that requires its workers to travel to Melbourne.
“Our future lies with having a strong and diverse economy here in this region; a place where skilled employees are able to live and work.
“This is already being reflected in our employment data, with our unemployment rate consistently lower than Melbourne’s.
“The challenge for us is to keep this momentum going.
“That is why we will continue working in partnership with other levels of government.”
Cr Sandner cited the Bendigo Art Gallery expansion, the Bendigo Library redevelopment and the Community Theatre project as examples of what can be achieved when governments work together.
“But more needs to be done,” he said.
“Our airport is in need of a major upgrade, which when completed, will bring new investment and job opportunities to our region.
“Many of our swimming pools are ageing so we are developing plans to build a new aquatic centre at Kangaroo Flat.
“Our universities need support to ensure they can provide the skilled workers needed to staff our new hospital.
“The dangerous Calder Alternative Highway intersection at Ravenswood requires an upgrade.
“These are just some of the projects which will make Greater Bendigo even greater.”
Cr Sandner said all levels of government should also work together to ensure councils are not burdened with unfair superannuation costs.
“It is with the greatest respect that I ask every Member here today to consider the impact the Local Authority defined benefits scheme is having on local government in Victoria,” he said.
“In late July, councils were formally told the fund required topping up to the tune of $453 million. The City of Greater Bendigo is being asked to find $10.3m.
“This means we have $10.3m less to provide the services and infrastructure that our community deserves. The amount being sought will significantly reduce our ability to deliver services the community expects from local government.
“…I respectfully ask all politicians to regard this as a matter of urgency and work with local government to resolve this issue.”