CALLS are mounting for the state government to consider Ballarat for the next city to take on board a large government department.
The Ballarat Regional Capital Plan, launched at Parliament House on Tuesday, identifies encouraging a government agency to relocate to Ballarat as a key priority for the city’s future, creating an extra $195 million of annual economic activity.
But the plan does not reveal what kind of government department Ballarat would be likely to attract.
Mayor Joshua Morris said there might be an opportunity to locate such a department at the Civic Hall site, depending on the outcome of moves to demolish the hall, but there were other opportunities in properties around the central business district that had been earmarked for development.
“It’s about what’s going to be the best fit for the agency,” Cr Morris said. “I wouldn’t want to say what type of an organisation might come to Ballarat. That is a conversation that needs to be had from the opposition and government.
“It’s really about us saying to the state government and opposition ‘you’re pushing growth’ ... we’re advocating for the fact when we’re growing we need to make sure there’s jobs available.”
It comes after Premier Denis Napthine last week promised to move the head office of the Victorian WorkCover Authority to Geelong if re-elected.
Cr Morris said the time was now for the state government to look towards supporting Ballarat’s growth.
Commerce Ballarat executive officer Jodie Gillett said she would love to see a large government department dropped in the middle of Sturt Street.
“To have hundreds of people spilling into the street at lunch time and after work,” she said. “Absolutely Commerce Ballarat would encourage state government to strongly consider that decentralisation.”
Ms Gillett said while the move of the State Revenue Office to the city was a positive, another department closer to the city centre might have a big impact.
“Our CBD is crucial to our city. It is the heart of the city. There is no doubt about that,” she said.
“Our shopping centres – Stockland, Central Square and Bridge Mall – are incredibly important but our CBD ... we need our strip shopping. It is really important.
“It has happened in Ballarat with the State Revenue Office and obviously we would love to see more of that in regional Victoria, because we need to grow the regions.
“It is crucial.”