The Weekly Advertiser

Mixed budget bag for regional shire

Kevin Erwin.

Kevin Erwin.

Northern Grampians Shire Mayor Kevin Erwin has welcomed a boost for district sport, early-childhood development, farm support, tourism and roads in the State Government’s latest budget.
But he was also critical of moves that he believe posed a threat to gold-mining in Stawell.
He said sport has received a major boost in the shire with the government providing $700,000 toward the redevelopment of Lord Nelson Park in St Arnaud.
“Continued investment from the community cricket and world-game facilities grant programs, as well as a new regional netball development program, will provide further opportunities to support local grassroots sport,” he said.
He also stressed that children in Northern Grampians shire would be among the first to benefit from the initial roll-out of a subsidised three-year-old kindergarten program.
“Evidence continues to show that early childhood education before school lays the foundations for lifelong learning,” he said.
“The support for capital investment is also welcomed, as our kids not only need the attention of early childhood educators but the best facilities to learn in.”
Cr Erwin said funding to support the council to stop the spread of roadside weeds and pests would also help protect agricultural land and parks.
He welcomed support for farmer health, tourism and trade development and roads and bridges.
“With many of our farmers reporting a poor harvest due to drought, support for farmer health is so critical to ensure we are looking out for those doing it tough in the community,” he said.
“The Grampians attracted 2.3-million visitors last year.
“The budget investment in visitor attraction, marketing, business support and trade exposure for our wine industry and grants to create silo art will help bring even more visitors to experience the best our region has to offer.
“Roads continue to be the biggest cost pressure on the council budget, with the upgrade and maintenance works required far outweighing funding we are able to allocate to them.
“The state budget allocation of over $400-million for regional road maintenance and $10.7-million for bridge upgrades and renewals is much needed, especially if some of this investment will be directed toward works on our local roads.”
But Cr Erwin also said the council was ‘highly’ concerned about the removal of gold exemption from mining royalties and the potential negative impact it might have on Stawell Gold Mine.
“Stawell Gold Mine is going through a transition,” he said.
“The mine only re-commenced operations in January this year, following an investment of $50-million into the local economy to create 200 direct jobs at the mine, providing a massive shot in the arm for employment opportunities in Stawell,” he said.
“Clearly this latest move has taken the mining sector by surprise and the short timeframe of its commencement meant there was no way this cost was factored into operational planning for further expansion at the mine.
“The council will be seeking an urgent meeting with government ministers to discuss options to ensure these revenues are re-directed into the Stawell community.”

The entire June 12, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

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Posted on Jun 12 2019

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