Development funds lay idle

The state government has reaped in more than $43 million from developers in Melton but has spent less than 3 per cent of that money on vital infrastructure projects in the municipality.

As part of the requirements of Growth Areas Infrastructure Contribution (GAIC), which is a tax on newly developed land in Melbourne’s outer suburbs, state governments must spend the money on key infrastructure projects, such as schools, hospitals and public transport.

But a recent Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning report has revealed of the $43 million Melton is eligible for from GAIC funding, the state government has only allocated $6.5 million for projects.

So far, only $588,640 has been spent on traffic signals at the Ferris Road interchange. The state government allocated $1.5 million for this project, and $5 million for an ambulatory care centre.

Melton council chief executive Kel Tori said the council had been advocating for a number of projects to be considered for funding and had identified a list of priorities including the Toolern rail station, a primary school at Eynesbury and a pedestrian crossing over the Western Freeway at Woodgrove Shopping Centre.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime pool of money for the municipality and we encourage the government to invest the money in projects council has identified for the betterment of the community,” Mr Tori said.

Opposition planning spokesman David Davis has accused the state government of “burying massive treasure”.

“Daniel Andrews is hoarding cash that was promised to outer suburban communities heaving under massive population growth,” Mr Davis said.

“There is money available to relieve pressure on suburban families but Daniel Andrews is refusing to help.”

A state government spokesman hit back saying there was often a lag between planning the project and releasing the money. He accused the former Liberal government of “making little use” of GAIC funding.

“Under the Liberals, GAIC funding was confusing and difficult to access, so we’ve set up a clear process to consider GAIC proposals,” he said.

“The Liberals barely touched GAIC because they barely built a thing.”