BENDIGO Airport might need to be expanded to allow for larger airplanes sooner than anticipated, the city's mayor says.
The project was among a number of priorities the City of Greater Bendigo raised with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, ministers and senior officials during a recent delegation to Melbourne.
Mayor Margaret O'Rourke said the delegation was a different approach to advocacy for the city, which sought the meetings post-budget to better understand funding opportunities.
"It was very positive," Cr O'Rourke said.
She said the meetings gave the government an understanding of the city's short and medium-term needs.
In addition to Mr Andrews, the city's executives and seven of its councillors met with local government minister Adem Somyurek; roads and fishing and boating minister Jaala Pulford; regional development and agriculture minister Jaclyn Symes; mental health and equality minister Martin Foley; tourism, jobs and racing minister Martin Pakula; Bendigo members Jacinta Allan and Maree Edwards, and a senior official from the Department of Treasury and Finance.
Airport takes off
The success of QantasLink's Bendigo - Sydney service has the city thinking ahead to the next size plane it would like to see landing at the airport.
Cr O'Rourke said the delegation broached the next stage of funding for the airport's expansion.
Bendigo Airport would need upgraded baggage and security screening to accommodate the next class of commuter aircraft.
The expansion was probably on the horizon sooner than thought possible, Cr O'Rourke said.
She said numbers on the QantasLink service were strong, with flights full or at 85-90 per cent.
"Qantas is having conversations with council staff around the frequency of flights," Cr O'Rourke said.
Cr O'Rourke said an Adelaide route was among the new Bendigo flights under consideration, along with a Canberra service.
A new airport terminal is among the city's investment priorities at both a state and federal level.
A proposal for a four-and-a-half or five star hotel to be built as part of plans to expand Bendigo's Golden Dragon Museum has attracted strong interest, Cr O'Rourke said.
"Some of these won't come to fruition but some of them might," the mayor said.
She said a high-end hotel would help diversify Bendigo's tourism offerings.
The expanded museum would be known as the National Chinese Museum of Australia. It is another of the city's priority projects, for which it is seeking state and federal investment.
The plan would see Bendigo's Chinese precinct transformed into a Chinatown.
Government funding would not encompass the development of a high-end hotel, which would be a private sector project.
The city is primarily seeking state and federal government support to extend the museum building.
Keeping the region moving
Transport links including a bypass to the west and small urban road projects were also among the Bendigo delegation's talking points.
Cr O'Rourke said the discussions were informed by a substantial freight study from 18 months ago.
Among the recommendations of the Bendigo Freight Study was investigating options for a protected freight corridor between Marong and Epsom, including alternative connections to the Bendigo Livestock Exchange.
Talking waste management
Cr O'Rourke said there were lengthy discussions about ideas for future waste management - namely, how local and state governments could work together.
She said the city was keen to explore what might be possible within the region. But it was too soon to divulge any details.
Waste management is a key challenge for Victorian local councils, including Greater Bendigo. The city advocated in April for a proposal to be put to members of Victoria's peak body for local government for the millions of dollars councils collect annually in EPA landfill levies to be retained and channeled into regional solutions to waste management.
The proposal was not believed to have been the subject of the delegation's talks on waste management.
The delegation saw its meeting with the premier as an opportunity not only to raise its hopes for the future, but to express its gratitude for the support the municipality had already received from state government.
"Greater Bendigo has a very good name," Cr O'Rourke said.
She said the city was fortunate to have had $59.5 million announced for a new day rehabilitation centre at Bendigo Health, further extending the benefits of the $630 new Bendigo Hospital project.
"No other regional centre got that in the budget," Cr O'Rourke said.
"I think we've been very fortunate. The City of Greater Bendigo has been able to deliver a number of big projects."
Other big-ticket projects funded in the 2019/20 state budget included $152 million to redevelop the Bendigo Law Courts.
Cr O'Rourke did not expect the delegation to Melbourne to become a regular occurrence.
She said the city felt the timing was opportune because of the November state election and last month's budget.
She said there were a number of funding opportunities formerly under Regional Development Victoria, which were now the domain of the treasurer.
The city's delegation was partly about getting in early and understanding those opportunities.
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