Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell has officially launched his plan to secure $85m in funding for his electorate, with the independent MP now hunting for regional and state-wide backing.
In the works for the last six months, Mr Bell’s ‘Future Mount Gambier’ strategy outlines a five-year plan that aims to secure funds to lock in the growth and expansion of Mount Gambier, a city he says must own its identity as the second largest in SA.
The plan was officially unveiled on Friday evening with guests including Labor leader Peter Malinauskas, local council leaders, non-profit representatives, prominent businesspeople and the media.
Mr Bell said the people in the room would be critical for ensuring his plan was successful.
Mr Bell called on the community to demand more for the region from the state government, pointing to criticism of the State Budget 2021/22 from either side of the political spectrum.
“I think there’s one important group that has been shirking its responsibility towards our city for quite some time and that’s the state government and it’s the state governments of both political persuasions,” Mr Bell told attendees.
“I genuinely believe that we as a community need a plan that we all get behind and endorse. Your input and feedback are vitally important,” Mr Bell said.
The plan currently collects 17 areas of action as part of an adapting community document that has been put to each of the state’s major parties.
Mr Bell invited Mr Malinauskas to address those gathered and he said the document was consistent with the community’s interests and the Labor Party would draw on insights for its own policy for the region.
“This is a big deal, having someone of Troy’s commitment to this community inviting a political competitor along so to speak,” he said.
“When you think about the economic policy in this community and your call on the government, it’s not a call on resources through desperation, but rather aspiration for the opportunity that is here.”
Included in the Future Mount Gambier plan are targets of $20m over four years for forestry future initiatives and $10m over four years for an affordable housing initiative.
It also eyes a $10m spend towards an infrastructure development fund, $10m towards sporting infrastructure or talent development and a $6m spend over four years for tourism development.
Mr Bell said the most immediate important initiatives were accessing $2.6m over four years for mental health services in Mount Gambier, followed by his affordable housing targets and the development of a $5m business attraction and retention fund.
All up, the strategy – which Mr Bell described as more of a starting point and a working document with room to grow – calls for an $85m state government spend in Mount Gambier.
Mr Bell previously said the figure was arrived at following discussions with at least 25 stakeholders.
With plenty of feedback already received from the community on where more funding is needed, it is expected the current $85m figure will expand.
Apologies for the Friday event at The Commodore included Premier Steven Marshall, Member for MacKillop Nick McBride and SA Best’s Frank Pangalo MLC.