Latrobe performing arts centre ‘death warrant’

THE fiercely debated Latrobe Performing Arts and Convention Centre sparked a performance among Latrobe City councillors on Monday night, with two rescission notices delaying the business case resolution.

The LPACC Business Case proposal was presented to council, flaring division among councillors about the contentious Kernot Hall, Morwell site, as well as the impact to GippsTAFE Waratah Training Restaurant.

Council resolved to adopt the business case on Monday, however two rescission notices have temporarily stalled officers taking action and pursuing funding for LPACC.

The first rescission notice, from Latrobe City councillor Dale Harriman, stemmed from the business case which revealed the Morwell site could not sustain the restaurant and LPACC due to insufficient passing trade.

“If my rescission motion doesn’t get up, then there is a fair chance that this council is signing the death warrant for the Warratah restaurant,” Cr Harriman said.

“We have already seen a diminish in the number of courses at GippsTAFE and I don’t want to see this council putting the Warratah restaurant and hospitality courses out of business as well.”

His rescission notice, which would have been addressed in October, after Latrobe City Council election, aimed to provide an opportunity for further discussion between GippsTAFE and council.

“I don’t want to see the Education Minister (Peter Hall) turn around and say that because of the convention centre impact, the Warratah restaurant is no longer viable and therefore cut funding,” Cr Harriman said.

“To get certainty and ensure TAFE can continue to operate its hospitality courses is well worth the wait, another six weeks is not going to kill us.”

However, a rescission notice on the same night from Latrobe City councillors Bruce Lougheed, Graeme Middlemiss and Lisa Price took precedence, causing a special council meeting to be held on Monday, which will force the business case to be addressed on the night.

Cr Lougheed said the issue would be “dealt with” on Monday but refused to comment on the reason for the second rescission.

At the meeting, the concerns aired about the restaurant were deemed a “diversion” and “poor excuse” by Cr Price, who urged council to “get behind the decisions”.

“Who evens knows if Warratah (restaurant) will be operating when this centre comes to fruition,” she said.

But in support of Cr Harriman’s move to delay the LPACC resolution was Cr Sandy Kam who said the business case revealed “more questions than answers”.

“A business case is supposed to entice someone to invest in a proposal. When I read that, it raised doubts and does not inspire me,” she said.

Location of the LPACC has sparked controversy since 2009, which, following the meeting, Latrobe City councillor Kellie O’Callaghan said proved council was still far from a conclusion.

“Clearly our community want this matter resolved and it is important for council to consider all aspects of this decision including a better location, best possible and most welcomed location, and a well considered business plan,” Cr O’Callaghan said.