Greater Geelong will get its first dedicated cabinet minister and its first ever state recognised metropolitan planning policy under the Liberal Nationals’ vision to plan for greater population and job growth in Victoria’s second largest city.
Speaking to the Committee for Geelong, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy announced wide ranging plans to prepare a sustainable pro-growth future for Geelong that include two major Greek-inspired changes if Liberal Nationals are elected in 2018.
The first step will be the appointment of South Barwon MP Andrew Katos as Assistant Shadow Minister for Geelong in the lead-up to the 2018 state election; if elected Katos will be the first ever dedicated minister for the city.
“To ease the squeeze in Melbourne, we need to grow the whole state, not just Melbourne. It’s about time Geelong had a dedicated minister, it’s about time government took Geelong seriously,” Matthew Guy told Neos Kosmos.
“A new Minister for Geelong will be able to lobby for the city at the Cabinet table, not because they have a sentimental or residential attachment to the city, but because it will be their total job description to do so at all times.”
Katos, a proud Greek Australian and a Geelong-born and bred local said that he is “excited for what is to come,” not only for himself, but for his family who are also dedicated to making Victoria’s second city a better place.
“I’m proud to hold the portfolio of Assistant Shadow Minister for Geelong, the first time any party has given this portfolio as a distinct responsibility,” he said.
“We need to plan for how we can sustainably grow Geelong to provide the jobs, opportunities and infrastructure that families, businesses, and the city needs for the future.”
Both Guy and Katos visited the Geelong waterfront, presenting their plans on making it the centrepiece of an “enhanced new Geelong” as they called it. The redevelopment will span all the way from the Botanical Gardens to Rippleside, also focusing on Surf Coast and Bellarine.
The Leader of the Opposition came up with the idea during his recent visit to Athens and Melbourne’s sister city Thessaloniki where he was impressed by the local waterfront.
“Designed by internationally renowned architects Nikifioridis-Cuomo, the Thessaloniki waterfront contained 2,353 new trees, 118,432 new plants, 58 acres of green spaces and 11,600 square metres of playground,” Guy explained.
“It’s not just a few hundred metres long; it is five kilometres long, 240,000 square metres that is worth seeing and learning about.”
If elected, they commit to commissioning Infrastructure Victoria to conduct a full audit of the Barwon region’s infrastructure to be presented to the Premier and Minister for Geelong within the first six months of coming to government. Mr Guy also stressed the importance of a Minister for Decentralisation and his idea to produce Victoria’s first ever Population Plan in order to take population growth pressures off Melbourne.
“We aim to balance population growth with preserving productive farmland, green wedges and planning for new jobs centres across the suburbs,” he said. “We want to create a state of cities, not just a city state.”