Plug pulled on RDV - what now for GovHub?
Calls have been made for the State Government and City of Greater Bendigo to explain how the Bendigo GovHub project continue to be funded after $75 million was cut from Regional Development Victoria in Monday’s State Government.
The government agency responsible for GovHub projects in Bendigo, Ballarat and the La Trobe Valley has been left with a 2019-2020 budget allocation of just $50 million.
Max Turner said the Budget announcement raised many serious questions about the financial modelling for the local project that would see the Lyttleton Terrace council offices and land sold, council hand back the sale cheque to government and become a commercial rent-paying tenant to the government.
“For more than six months Bendigo council has been ducking questions on GovHub and avoiding community consultation, hiding behind RDV as the project manager and the government as the driver,” he said.
“Last month, the Auditor-General released a scathing report into the operations and accountability of RDV and on Monday the government wipes a massive $75 million from the agency’s budget for this year.
“There most be serious questions marks about the future of RDV and most certainly, as far as the state’s top financial watchdog is concerned, its capability in managing projects.
“Every resident of Bendigo is right to be concerned that council has committed to handover our land to a government agency that is failing tests of scrutiny and now has its access to taxpayer money severely limited.
Mr Turner said because genuine transparency had been missing from discussions on Bendigo GovHub, the State Government’s backflip on supporting RDV and regional communities raised new concerns the GovHub concept.
“Unlike Ballarat where work on a fully-government funded GovHub has started - $48 million paid for by the government – in Bendigo it’s a paltry $16 million with our residents being left with the bills that have already started rolling in for council and the land has not even been sold,” he said.
“Will RDV now have the resources to manage this flawed Bendigo project? Will the bill for Bendigo residents keep rising? Until there is transparency on the use of our land, our buildings and our money, there will remain real doubt.”