Politicians’ interest welcome, as long as it’s sustained

By TONY FOSTER*

AS I am sure everyone is well aware, we are in the midst of a federal election campaign and the politicians’ promises are coming thick and fast.

When it is financial support for important community developments, like the $6 million committed to the Brighton Regional Sports Centre at Pontville, by Senator Steve Martin and the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack and $1.7 million for the Bridgewater Parklands Stage Two development, this is welcomed by all in the community.

We’ve also seen the recent announcement of a $192,000 Federal sports infrastructure grant for Weily Park that will fund the significant upgrading of that facility, announced by Lyons MP Brian Mitchell.

These are all important community projects that have been developed and pursued by the Brighton Council and which will certainly add to the amenity of our municipality and the enjoyment of residents and other users.

While the major Regional Sports Centre and Bridgewater Parklands funding announcements were made prior to the elections and funding provided in the current Federal Budget, we can only trust that they will be honoured, whichever party wins on May 18.

And while the funding is significant, it pales when considered alongside the billions of dollars currently being promised by politicians of all colours, seeking to be elected or re-elected to parliament in Canberra. Let’s hope the nation can afford it.

Yes, it is welcomed, and certainly Brighton, like communities around Australia, will not be rejecting any of the money that can be used to improve the lives of our people.

But it is fair to say that we would like to see this great level of interest and concern from our politicians, not just at election time, but throughout the full term of parliament.

It is probably unfair to suggest that all politicians only show interest leading up to elections, as I know there are many that work extremely hard at representing their constituents and helping local communities.

But it is difficult not to be cynical when billions of dollars are thrown around in the six weeks leading up voting day, yet when communities seek funding for vital projects at other times, they are told that money is either difficult to find or is non-existent.

Politicians should understand that voters do remember and are prepared to give credit where credit is due.

If the local MP supports a project and is successful in obtaining funding support at any time during the three or four-year election cycle, voters will remember that when it comes time to mark their ballot papers.

Similarly, if a promise is made in the days leading up to an election and is either not met or diminished after polling day, voters will remember that too and the politician will certainly be punished at the earliest opportunity.

In Brighton, we are continually working hard to secure Commonwealth and State Government funding for important community projects and we have enjoyed considerable success in this regard.

Often by providing matching funding, Council has been able to secure vital support for projects such as the Brighton Streetscape development, the Brighton Bowls and Community Club upgrading, the Cris Fitzpatrick Park, replacement of the Old Beach Jetty, stage one of the Bridgewater Parkland, the Covehill Bridge and much more.

Our politicians have been supportive, but equally, we have had to put forward well-reasoned business cases, lobbied hard and also contributed Council funds.

I think, in this way, Brighton is unique. It is recognised that we have a growing community and that we work to develop projects that make a real impact on the lives of the people who live here.

Council has developed effective relationships with politicians of all colours and we are determined to maintain these and keep the lines of communication open in the interests of securing the very best outcomes for our community.

We certainly appreciate the heightened interest at election time, but encourage our political representatives to maintain that interest, support and regular communication not just for six weeks or a month before the election, but right through the term of the parliament.

Of course, like our community, Council’s interest is now also heightened, awaiting the outcome of the coming election and the fulfilment of the important funding promises made for our sporting facilities and the Bridgewater Parkland project.

*Tony Foster AM OAM JP  is Mayor of Brighton

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