Moe stoush escalates

MOE residents angered by a proposal to undertake a full review of the Moe Railway Revitalisation Project – Moe Activity Centre Plan have warned they will take their fight for the project to Canberra.

Speaking to The Express yesterday, Committee for Moe chair Manny Gelagotis said a large proportion of the community, upset by the proposal being mooted at the last council meeting of 2012, was supportive of a plan to engage with Federal Minister for Regional Australia Simon Crean.

“We are bypassing (Latrobe City) Council on this matter; we have concerns about being represented properly,” Mr Gelagotis said, adding he hoped to communicate with Mr Crean’s office next week.

“We have had informal discussions with the government; Mr Crean has been to Moe and he knows of the project.”

In a statement, Mr Gelagotis said the minister had offered personal support and encouragement to the community and the former councillors who developed the plan.

“Put simply, we are taking the minister at his word and expect to be able to see him either in Canberra, Melbourne or even Moe in the near future seeking to promote the project’s readiness for Regional Development Australia Fund support,” Mr Gelagotis said, adding Mr Crean had previously offered to meet the community regarding the project’s progress when visiting the Moe site.

Mr Gelagotis said he and a delegation of Moe residents planned to meet Mr Crean “and whoever else we need to see” until the MRRP – MACP was delivered as promised.

“At the moment, we have been presenting petitions (to support the project); we are hoping to get more than 4000 signatures,” he said.

Mr Gelagotis reiterated a report from Latrobe City Council in November 2012 where it said the MACP “ticked all the RDAF boxes” in terms of preparation.

Claiming council had reneged on commitments to the community to see the project through after “so much goodwill and hard work,” he said council “had lost its capacity to claim to represent the greater Latrobe Valley community.”

At the 17 December meeting, West Ward councillor Peter Gibbons moved to bring the project back to council for a full review and that no further works be commenced, external funding sought and/or council funding allocated until a review was completed, despite a strong reaction from a packed council chamber.

“The motion aims to review timelines of the whole thing to come out in a reasonable amount of time; it is prudent and right of council to have a review,” Cr Gibbons said in clarifying his actions at the time.

Meanwhile, Latrobe City Council acting chief executive Carol Jeffs said as per council’s decision, the review was presently underway to examine project costs and funding opportunities.

“Once the review of the MRPR project has been completed, this project may be considered for funding opportunities like RDAF or other state and federal government funds in the future,” Ms Jeffs said, adding the review was expected to be completed by March.