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.