The Liberal Party has taken a punt with today’s announcement of $42 million for an aquatic centre on Phillip Island if the Coalition wins government at the November state election.
The Bass Coast Shire Council advocacy list has a Phillip Island aquatic centre at the top – but in concert with a new Bass Coast aquatic centre in Wonthaggi. The council is seeking $79.3 million in state and federal funding to deliver both.
Instead the Liberal Party has announced more than half that amount for one pool and zero for the other.
Phillip Islanders have been campaigning for almost 30 years to get their own pool.
Current plans for the aquatic centre in Cowes include an eight-lane 25m swimming pool, a warm water leisure and swimming lesson pool, a toddlers play pool, waterslides, a gymnasium with group fitness spaces and spa and sauna facilities.
The proposed Wonthaggi aquatic centre is similar but so far has no funding allocated.
The announcement by Liberal shadow ministers David Southwick and Cindy McLeish shows the Coalition is willing to promise plenty in the marginal Bass electorate in hopes of snatching it back from Labor.
Victoria’s Liberal Party Leader Matthew Guy was in the shire earlier this month to announce a $6 million commitment to tackling Inverloch’s coastal erosion if the Coalition wins government in November.
The Liberal Party’s spending commitments this time round are in stark contrast to the 2018 state election when they gave Bass Liberal MP Brian Paynter almost nothing to entice voters.
The seat is currently held by Labor MP Jordan Crugnale who secured a 7 per swing against Mr Paynter in 2018 to win the seat for the ALP for the first time since it was created in 2002.
The margin was 2.39 per cent, and it is now considered to be even closer following a redistribution, which removes the urban (strongly Labor-voting) area of Pakenham from the electorate.
Ms Crugnale faces a double Coalition challenge with the National Party scoring a coup by naming popular former Bass Coast mayor Brett Tessari as their candidate. Mr Tessari received almost half the total votes in his ward at the 2020 Bass Coast Council election.
Two visits to Bass Coast by National Party leader Peter Walsh in the past month show the National Party is serious about winning the seat in their own right.
Mr Walsh has promised that if elected the Coalition would guarantee that 25 per cent of all new State Government infrastructure spending would go to the regions, in line with the population.