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$320 million plan to raise Mornington Peninsula from economic slump

The project, to be delivered in sections, would create 83 jobs.

It would take in views of Western Port and Port Phillip bays, loop around Cape Schanck and pass the Port of Hastings.

Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Sam Hearn said the proposed trail would attract visitors from around the world and showcase the region’s diverse landscapes, coastlines and local food.

The proposed bay trail would take in Cape Schanck on the peninsula.

The proposed bay trail would take in Cape Schanck on the peninsula. Credit:The Age

“It would be a big boost to our tourism economy,” he said. “We’ve got some great trails and hikes … but we think this offers something unique and fits with the global market for those holidays that combine an epicurean, physical recreation and environmental experience.”

Mornington Peninsula Regional Tourism Board chair Tracey Cooper said the community faced a worrying future and high youth unemployment without government intervention.

“I’m quite concerned about the immediate 12-month future for the peninsula,” she said. “I think the council needs to do everything it can to accommodate investment.”

She said the council should also work with food producers to expand their farm-gate sales businesses to help offset the cost of losing supply deals with restaurants.

Cr Hearn said the council was seeking about $320 million in total funding to allow work to begin on the projects immediately.

The council wants to secure $25 million to fund a project piping recycled water from the Eastern Treatment Plant to local farmers and food producers, rather than flowing out to Bass Strait.

The project would aim to provide 1425 megalitres of water per year to farmers and increase revenue by $65 million annually.

A spokesman for Flinders MP Greg Hunt, whose electorate covers the peninsula, said the federal government had already provided $700 million for multiple infrastructure projects in recent years.

He said the Commonwealth had also committed $2 million for the Baxter-to-Somerville bike path that will form part of the bay trail and $70 million for an overpass the council was seeking to build, in addition to several other projects that amounted to about another $10 million.

“We are not aware that either the Victorian government or Mornington Peninsula Shire has contributed funding to any of these projects, but we encourage them to do so,” he said.

A state government spokesman said Victoria had spent billions of dollars supporting businesses, workers and families during the pandemic.

“Right now our focus is on getting on with the job of the hundreds of projects we’re fast-tracking to get people back into work, but we’re only too happy to work with councils across the state on the projects that matter to their residents,” he said.

The council is seeking to establish a “technology park” near the Port of Hastings it says will create 3000 jobs and attract manufacturers in the medical technology and pharmaceutical sectors.

The preferred location will be decided by September, but the council wants the state government to fast-track the rezoning of the land.

The Andrews government spokesman said there was no current rezoning request for the Port of Hastings.

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