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Bargain Hunt: Government profiteers off Bendigo residents

The State Government and their subservient local mob, the infamous Bendigo Bunch, clearly think Bendigo people are a bunch of suckers they can take to the cleaners with the dud GovHub deal.

GovHub co-architect Craig Niemann (the bloke on big bucks for his role as Bendigo CEO) with six councillors following behind like little lambs has not only paved the way for Bendigo to sell its land and buildings to the Government and then pay bigger bucks in rent for decades, he has set the scene for a cash windfall to the government at our expense. And remember council will also hand back the sale cheque to the government too.

The government is now eyeing an easy $20 million or so profit on this dumb and dud GovHub they want in Lyttleton Terrace.

Before it is even built, the Ballarat GovHub - unlike Bendigo being built with no council money, no council land and 600 new jobs compared with a paltry confirmed 55 in Bendigo - has been quietly put on the market.

It was reported in The Australian last week:

The Victorian government’s development arm is quietly offering the under-construction Ballarat GovHub for sale in a process that could reap it and its partners about $115 million.

The Ballarat complex, to be completed by December next year, is part of the Andrews government’s decentralisation strategy and will house up to 1000 Victorian public servants.

The new Ballarat building has been estimated to cost about $100 million to build. The Andrews government has provided an additional $47m in funding to support the shift of public service jobs.

The new complex will be underpinned by a long lease to the Andrews government, which is shifting up to 600 jobs from Melbourne into the new complex. It has already made similar moves to back new buildings in Geelong, as has the federal government.

The projects sits on the “Civic Hall Site”, which is on crown land. Development Victoria is leading the works alongside Regional Development Victoria, the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the City of Ballarat.

The GovHub design includes an active ground floor space, incorporating the bricks and masonry theme of the Civic Hall precinct. A glass conservatory will link the Civic Hall to the GovHub and a reconstructed lower hall.

The five-storey project will have four upper levels of office space with about 10,843sqm. It will also have two levels of basement with about 220 carparking spaces and modern end-of-trip facilities.

The Victorian government has committed to the space for 20 years.

Who’s getting the better deal? Not Bendigo. The government went hunting to offload a cheap and nasty bargain model and threw the dart at Bendigo.

Their dud deal gives Bendigo 500 less new jobs than Ballarat, only four storeys not five and even less carparking spaces.

And the Bendigo Bunch has signed up our city’s residents and ratepayers to rent in this dud GovHub for the next 40 years. The government is rubbing its hands waiting for a possible $20 million profit at our expense to plough into its depleted state coffers.

It’s now time we went hunting for new councillors and members of Parliament, people who will put the best interests of Bendigo and its people, today and tomorrow, ahead of backroom discussions where even the thought of community consultation is taboo.

We want better deals for Bendigo, not selling prime assets at bargain prices to governments on the hunt for a fast buck.

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