PREMIER Daniel Andrews is “very confident” of striking a balance between Bendigo’s need for new law courts, and the significance of the existing buildings.
The state’s Labor leader was in the city on Thursday for the party’s biannual regional caucus – a visit preceded by a wishlist from Greater Bendigo mayor, Margaret O’Rourke.
Bendigo’s increasingly outdated law courts and plans for a GovHub were among the topics she most hoped the government would keep in mind as it turned its thoughts to the spring session of parliament.
The state government set aside almost $4 million in its 2016-17 budget to plan for upgrades to the courts.
“That work is progressing well and I’m very confident we’ll be able to make some positive announcements at some point in future,” Mr Andrews said.
He stressed the need to balance the heritage values of the existing courts with the community’s needs.
“We’ve got to get this right,” the premier said.
“There’ll only be one opportunity to do this and it should be done properly.”
Likewise, Mr Andrews was optimistic about the future of a proposal to develop a “gov hub” in Bendigo.
In May, the state government announced more than $47 million to establish the first hub, in Ballarat.
It will be home to more than 600 government employees.
A second hub, in the La Trobe Valley, will bring 150 jobs to the region.
Bendigo was flagged as a third site, though planning is still underway.
“That planning’s going well also,” Mr Andrews said.
“We look forward to making some positive announcements once that planning’s done.”
He did not indicate when planning was likely to be complete, but said “we don’t want to drag our feet on this”.
But how long will Labor have to deliver on those promises, with a state election set for November 2018?
That’s for the people to decide, Mr Andrews said.
"Our job is to give them that choice, and we'll lay out a positive plan over these next 15 months so they can make that choice,” he said.