CEO Update – May 2024

17/05/2024

Over the past two weeks, we have seen both State and Federal budgets delivered. Neither has resulted in any significant funding for the transformational projects we have been advocating jointly for over the past few years.

These include the completion of the Sovereign Hill Master plan, Federation University’s initiatives to position Ballarat as a University Town, the circular economy precinct at BWEZ, a fit-for-purpose Community Mental Health facility and of course the much-needed duplication of Dysons Drive. Each of these remain key projects for our region’s future.

We acknowledge the challenging fiscal environment that all levels of government are currently facing and accept that while these major projects have not been funded this year, it does not make them any less important. We will continue to work collaboratively with key sectors and organisations to ensure there is a consistent and clear message to government regarding the projects that will help drive our regional prosperity.

Additional federal funding for Ballarat’s Intermodal Freight Hub at BWEZ is welcomed and we hope this now triggers work to deliver the project. Ballarat industry will be more productive with easy access to rail for the efficient movement of goods. The Intermodal Freight Hub and associated rail infrastructure will unlock this potential, free up investment for industry and importantly, help reduce the number of trucks on our roads.

The additional state government funding for Ballarat’s Base Hospital is also welcomed and will help provide enhanced services for women and children, integrated mental health, alcohol and other drugs facilities within the Emergency department and additional inpatient beds. As we watch the growth of the hospital redevelopment on our skyline every day, we can look forward to Grampians Health Services delivering quality health care to Ballarat and the region for generations to come.

In Ballarat and all other towns in the region, the lack of available housing stock continues to be a major concern. Whether it be infill, green field or urban renewal, for families, essential workers and those looking for affordable, social or crisis accommodation, we simply need more of every form of housing.

Whilst additional investment in housing at the federal and state level is welcome, we urge all levels of government to speed up the processes associated with planning and approvals. “If you don’t build it they can’t come”. Our members tell us the length of time to process applications and planning is too long and is a disincentive to those looking to invest. There are many factors to the challenges of providing housing in our regions, let’s ensure planning processes and reasonable time frames, enable appropriate development rather than impede it.