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Federal MP Darren Chester has paid tribute to outgoing East Gippsland Shire Mayor Joe Rettino and called on the community to unite to focus on the economic and social challenges facing towns such as Lakes Entrance.

Mr Chester this week met with Cr Rettino and representatives from several Lakes Entrance community and sporting groups to discuss concerns over local infrastructure and opportunities to work together to grow the region.

“I have worked closely with Joe during his time as Mayor to promote Lakes Entrance and the broader East Gippsland region and I look forward to enjoying the same relationship with new Mayor Natalie O’Connell and all Councillors,” Mr Chester said.

“During Joe’s time in office, we finally made some progress with VicRoads on the upgrades to Jemmy’s Point lookout, better public facilities and the highway through town but there’s still a lot of work to be done to deliver what’s required.

“We missed out on funding in the first round of the government’s Regional Growth Fund but I will be working with Council and the State Government to secure other sources of money for much needed public infrastructure upgrades.”

Mr Chester said the meeting with community and sporting groups had highlighted the diversity of opportunities in Lakes Entrance and the need to have ongoing discussions to share information.

“I will be pulling together the key points from the meeting, along with other discussions with business, industry and tourism leaders, to develop a list of key actions we can take together,” Mr Chester said.

“We have a lot of outstanding volunteers and groups doing great work in their own specific area but we could get better at sharing information.

“The community is sick of long-winded bureaucratic planning documents that sit on a shelf and never get actioned. There’s things we can do ourselves to help our town prosper and other projects that will require funding from all levels of government.

“I gave an undertaking to report back to the community groups as soon as possible to suggest a pathway forward that we can all work together to deliver for the benefit of locals and visitors.”

Mr Chester said he was optimistic about the future of Lakes Entrance and confident the community could work through local challenges.

“We have a wonderful community with outstanding natural assets and plenty to be proud of, but there’s work to be done. We need to encourage strong local leadership among our business, community and sporting groups and work in partnerships to build a better Lakes Entrance together,” Mr Chester said.

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