March 26, 2014  |  Adjournment

BEST Community Development

Mr HOWARD  (Ballarat East)— The matter  I raise is for  the attention of the Treasurer, and it relates to the recent news that BEST Community Development has been placed into the  hands of an administrator. One of BEST’s properties is the former Golden  Point Primary School, which is now known as GPlace.  GPlace is  a learning and cultural centre which was  developed with a state  government grant of $850 000. This was provided through the Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure,  noting that the  former school would  be  refurbished and used —  and I  note the  terminology associated  with the  grant — ‘solely for community and education  purposes’. I also  note  that since that  time  further state  government funding  has been invested in the site to develop a men’s shed and  a community garden.  To facilitate the  project BEST Community  Development also committed substantial funding to the refurbishment and purchased the school from the government for community and educational purposes.

A consortium  involving Ballarat  Regional  Multicultural Council,  Mount  Clear College and U3A was  established well ahead of  the refurbishments taking place, and  it has  managed the facility  since it  was reopened.  Each group  has also invested funds and  extensive volunteer time  to  manage, maintain  and  further enhance the  facility.  It  is now a thriving community asset, providing a broad range of  learning and cultural  activities for students from secondary schools, members of the multicultural community, including refugee  families,  and  older community members. The commercial kitchen, built as part of the refurbishment of this historic school, also enables many other community events, including monthly multicultural tucker lunches which are held for the benefit of older members of the  multicultural community. The concern of the consortium  — —

  The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr McIntosh) — Order! What action is the member seeking?

  Mr HOWARD                 — I am getting to that point.

  The ACTING SPEAKER  (Mr McIntosh)  — Order!  The member  ought to  get to  it fairly quickly.

  Mr  HOWARD                 — The  background helps  us to  get there.  The  concern  of  the consortium, which manages  GPlace,  is  that  this  facility  may be lost as the administrators look to selling the property for other purposes.

Therefore  I ask the  Treasurer  to investigate the  restrictions  placed on the GPlace property as identified both in the sale arrangements to BEST and also  in regard  to  the   substantial  state  funding  provided   to  assist  with   the refurbishment and development of the site, and to take action to ensure that the rights of the user groups  are protected.  Over a  year ago  I communicated this issue to the Assistant Treasurer. He was able  to  provide some documentation to me, which I was able to share with the consortium  when it was renegotiating the loan.