Meeting over Ballarat's economic future becomes a political storm 

A MEETING held in Ballarat yesterday designed to help determine Ballarat’s economic future turned into a political stoush after controversial Liberal MP Geoff Shaw failed to attend.

A member of the economic development and infrastructure committee, Mr Shaw was criticised by committee deputy chair Martin Foley for not attending the public hearing in Ballarat.

However a state government spokesperson said Mr Shaw was in Frankston with Minister Denis Napthine and that it was not unusual for members of parliament to be absent from committee hearings.

In December last year Frankston MP Geoff Shaw was investigated by the Commonwealth government over allegations he misused government money to help fund his private hardware company.

Yesterday, Labor Member for Albert Park Martin Foley said it was a “real concern” that Mr Shaw had not attended the important Ballarat meeting. He also said Mr Shaw had not attended a similar meeting in Bendigo on the previous day.

“After all, Mr Shaw seemed to have no trouble sending his taxpayer- funded car interstate and around Victoria to support his own business, but he couldn’t find time to get in the same car and perform his duties as a parliamentary committee member,” said Mr Foley.

“One day is okay, but two days for a regional sitting is a real concern.

“It detracted from the work all the stakeholders had done.”

The meeting in Ballarat yesterday included submissions from City of Ballarat, Committee for Ballarat, Selkirk Bricks, Ai Group, Ballarat Chamber of Commerce, Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry, University of Ballarat and University of Ballarat Technology Park. “There were a lot more questions asked than answered  throughout the day,” Mr Foley said.

A state government spokesperson said parliamentary committee members were often absent.

“It is not unusual for members of Parliament to be absent due to commitments, as I understand Mr Foley has been in the past,” the spokesperson said.


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