Keen for funding

A NEW Federal Minister was in the Latrobe Valley yesterday keen to explore the potential for funding two key infrastructure projects in the region.

At the request of the Latrobe Valley Transition Committee, Federal Regional Services Minister Catherine King – who has replaced former minister Simon Crean on a joint ministerial taskforce for the Valley’s diversification – toured a number of local sites earmarked for future development.

Speaking with The Express before she visited the Moe Railway Revitalisation site and a Churchill site proposed to accommodate a new Latrobe Community Health Service/Monash University training clinic, Ms King confirmed there was structural adjustment money available for the Latrobe Valley but would not reveal how much.

Ms King said LVTC had originally proposed several projects be funded via these means but the Federal Government did not consider they were ‘shovel-ready’, so “I wrote to them a few weeks ago asking them to put up more (projects)”.

In response LVTC member and Latrobe City Council chief executive Paul Buckley said the Moe railway project and LCHS’s proposed training clinic, aimed at retaining locally trained GPs in the area, had been formally put forward.

Ms King said she was in the region to tour local sites, including those which had already benefited from federal funds such as the Latrobe Valley Airport, and would meet with the LVTC this morning.

“I will make an assessment of the two projects put before me and I will have my department do due diligence on them then make some decisions,” she said.

“My view is that we should be able to make some decisions relatively quickly as this has been quite a long process… I am keen to progress matters a bit further.”

Ms King said she was aware the Moe revitalisation project had been the subject of recent review by council but “I understand the council is now 100 per cent behind it”.

Yesterday the minister said she was “not yet across the detail” of the LCHS training clinic proposal but expected to learn more during her visit.

Despite repeated requests from The Express this week for more information on the proposal, LCHS failed to provide it.