***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***
Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
I rise to support the City of Greater Geelong’s application for funding of the Northern Aquatic and Community Hub under round five of the Building Better Regions Fund, where a grant of $10 million has been sought, and through a special circumstances extension for the funding that the City of Greater Geelong has already received under phase two of the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Fund where it has received a grant of just north of eight million dollars.
This is a very meritorious project which would make a huge difference to the people of the northern suburbs of Geelong and it’s a project which very much enjoys my support.
It’s been estimated that the preventative health savings alone of this project would be worth about $111 million in the first decade of its operation, which makes sense in the context of the chronic diseases which exist at a greater rate in the northern suburbs of Geelong, such as diabetes than in other parts of Geelong.
It’s a project that enjoys my support but enjoys the support of local State Member for Lara, John Eren along with other stakeholders in the Geelong region, including the Barwon Regional Partnership, G21, the Committee for Geelong and Geelong COVID Recovery Collective.
At the heart of the Northern Aquatic and Community Hub is the Norlane swimming pool.
It is a pool which has a very fond place in my heart, it’s where I learned to swim under the tutelage of the legendary Herb Jeffrey’s and where I swam competitively for the Norlane Amateur Swimming Club- this is back in the 1970s- a long time ago.
In those days, this was the premier swimming pool in Geelong.
It had- it was the home of many regional championships, including the Victorian Country Championships and I have lots of fond memories of warm Saturday evenings where there were hundreds of people gathered at the Norlane Swimming Pool for these carnivals.
I make two points about this debate which has been a significant one within the Geelong region.
The first of those is that swimming pools are principally the responsibility of municipal government.
The second is that since the 1970s when this was the premier pool Geelong, we’ve seen the second 50 metre pool installed in Kardinia Park. We’ve seen the building of the facility at Waurn Ponds. The building of Splashdown. Fantastic facility of Ocean Grove. The upgrading of Lara.
And in that period of time under successive local governments, we have seen the Norlane pool rundown.
That is where this debate starts.
The second point to make is this; the city put in place a master plan in June of 2015, which was the beginnings of this project.
Since then, the Coalition had been in government federally and despite repeated asks from the federal government to provide assistance, there has been no direct assistance provided to this project whatsoever.
It deserves it.
It is now time for the federal government to commit to it.