The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says the State Government should send a Minister to Bairnsdale to gain a first-hand understanding of the importance of the Hope Restart Centre.
Mr Chester has invited the Victorian Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing, Martin Foley, to Gippsland to gain a better understanding of the project and strong community support as the campaign for funding steps up a level.
Mr Chester announced $3 million from the Federal Government in September toward construction of the Hope Restart Centre. Planning approvals had already been secured.
“The State Government is the last piece in the puzzle and must urgently announce matching funding,” Mr Chester said.
“Labor’s only representative in the region, Harriet Shing, says she supports the project but she has failed to secure funding. It’s time for the Minister to visit and take a personal interest in the project that will save lives in Gippsland.”
A funding request lodged by the Hope Restart Centre board has been with the State Government for months.
Mr Chester also wrote to Premier Dan Andrews in September seeking an agreement of matching funding between State and Federal Governments.
“Four weeks later, I finally received an official reply, which merely advised that the funding request has been handballed to another department and was now with Martin Foley for consideration,” Mr Chester said.
“So we have no answers, no indication of the timelines, and no guidance as to when we can commence building this much-needed community facility.”
Mr Chester has now written to Minister Foley to reiterate the advanced stage of the Hope Restart Centre project and urgent need for funding.
“With matching commitments from both the Federal and State Governments and a significant community fundraising effort, the proponents have indicated that stage one can commence construction within months,” Mr Chester said.
“All levels of government need to work in a bi-partisan manner to address the increasing problems being seen in our communities as a result of drug and alcohol addictions.”