What’s the deal, Dan?

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State Small Business Minister Philip Dalidakis has confirmed the Latrobe Valley is the preferred location for a ‘City Deal’ after the government also spruiked other regional cities for the funding deal.

On Monday The Express reported the State Government lobbied for the Latrobe Valley to become the location of the Federal Government’s ‘City Deal’ program at last week’s Council of Australian Governments meeting.

A ‘City Deal’ is a funding agreement between state, federal and local government to improve cities through making the most of new and existing investment.

A similar deal in Townsville has resulted in millions of dollars of investment into the region.

But confusion surrounded whether the Latrobe Valley was the government’s preferred site for a deal after stories appeared in the Ballarat Courier, Bendigo Advertiser and Geelong Advertiser which said the government would push the cases of those regional cities.

“If a City Deal is good enough for Western Sydney or Townsville, it’s good enough for the Latrobe Valley,” Premier Daniel Andrews said in Monday’s Express.

“This is about jobs and ensuring the Valley gets the future it deserves.”

The same quote appeared in The Courier, Bendigo Advertiser and Geelong Advertiser reports, with the name of the respective region replacing the Latrobe Valley.

But Mr Dalidakis was quick to assure the community the Latrobe Valley was the government’s preferred location for a city deal, when asked about the stories which appeared in the other regional newspapers.

“I would love to have as many city deals in Victoria as I can,” he said, during a visit to the region yesterday.

“The history of our relationship with the Federal Government is that we don’t get very much from them.

“So I’m not hopeful of having more than one City Deal and so I’m here to tell you unambiguously the Andrews Government would like to see that ‘City Deal’ here in the Latrobe Valley.”

Latrobe City mayor Kellie O’Callaghan, who met with Mr Dalidakis during his visit, welcomed the minister’s commitment to the region.

“Latrobe is the priority location for a ‘City Deal’ and that is the focus of the State Government, categorically placing us in the strongest position in terms of the regional (city) cohort,” Cr O’Callaghan said.

“Having the state back us in terms of being their priority is essential.

“But now having the Federal Government step in and announce that we will be the ‘City Deal’ focus and work through that package… is really what we need to do.”

In response, Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said he was “committed to exploring as many different avenues of Federal Government funding possible to ensure the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland gets its share of government resources”.

“Recently, I announced a $43 million package for the Latrobe Valley, to help the region adjust with the impending closure of Hazelwood Power Station,” Mr Chester said.

“The Coalition Federal Government has provided more than $12 million for capital works in the Latrobe Valley over the past two years alone through the National Stronger Regions Fund, as part of our overall investment in the wider Gippsland region which is worth close to $600 million over the next three years.

“There will also be future opportunities under the Building Better Regions Fund for Latrobe City Council to bid for funding for projects identified in its Strength-Led Transition document.”