PLANNING work for upgrades to the RSL Military Museum in Pall Mall will be undertaken if the Coalition wins government.
Opposition spokesman for veterans’ affairs Senator Michael Ronaldson and Liberal candidate for Bendigo Greg Bickley promised $180,000 funding yesterday.
Bendigo District RSL president Cliff Richards said architects would be contacted and plans drawn up for the project, which he expected to cost $3 million to $5 million.
He said the project would involve structural work, possible improvements to the rear of the building and upgrades to storage and display areas.
“It’s been a long, hard journey over a number of years,” he said. “With the strong support of Greg Bickley and (Senator Ronaldson), we are now able to move forward.
“Your commitment will secure the future of this building for the next 90 to 100 years.
“It’s been a little bit of a stalemate for a number of years.
“But this magnificent offer will take us to that next move and secure the history of this building.”
Mr Richards said the architects would determine which work was undertaken, but that he also wanted to create a web presence for the museum.
Mr Bickley said Bendigo needed to get behind the project.
“I think for future generations it’s important we support the RSL sub-branch in Bendigo to exhibit the wonderful memorabilia that they have here,” he said.
Senator Ronaldson said it was important that young veterans became involved in the RSL.
“The relation is really important between older veterans and younger veterans,” he said.
“It’s a very important part of the future and I’ve got no doubt they’ll take up that challenge into the future with greater fervour.”
But Labor candidate for Bendigo Lisa Chesters noted the Coalition had not committed to fully funding the project.
“It’s only a drop of the funding they require,” she said.
“It’s a tokenistic effort.
“Meanwhile, Labor’s established a $140 million fund for projects such as this.
“So I’ll be working really hard if elected to make sure our RSL gets the full whack of money they need to do this project.”
Senator Ronaldson said the government funding for the Anzac centenary did not have capacity for the project, which Ms Chesters said was false.
Chesters not impressed
LABOR candidate for Bendigo Lisa Chesters has taken aim at the Coalition’s plan to buy Indonesian boats to curb people smuggling.
The opposition recently announced plans to buy “decrepit and dangerously unsafe boats” from Indonesians to prevent them being sold to people smugglers.
Senator Michael Ronaldson yesterday promised $180,000 funding for local military museum upgrades.
Before the announcement, Ms Chesters said Senator Ronaldson needed to explain when it would be funded.
“Any promise that they make to Bendigo, will it be funded before or after they buy every leaky boat in south-east Asia?” she asked.
Ms Chesters said the Coalition was making promises without saying where the money would come from.
But Senator Ronaldson said the timing of Ms Chesters’ comments was off and called on her to back the museum upgrades.
“Only Lisa Chesters and the Labor Party could reflect negatively on funding for this iconic Bendigo building.
“My challenge to Ms Chesters is, are you going to match this commitment?
“Are you going to be part of this centenary of Anzac commemorations or are you going to carp in the background about this project?”