Victorian Premier John Brumby has been hit with a roadblock just one day before the state election, with questions raised about the Premier’s support for a five-star resort in the Yarra Valley that has now collapsed.
According to a report in The Age, the Premier wrote to Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Michael Somare about the proposed Hilton in the Vines project in the Yarra Valley.
The development is now in receivership with its primary backer, millionaire Bernard Roux recently filing a bankruptcy application.
However the Government has defended its involvement, with a spokesperson for the premier saying no taxpayer funds were used in the development at all.
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A spokesperson for the premier has said the Government was simply expressing support for an area devastated after the Black Saturday fires.
”Following the devastating Black Saturday bushfires, the government was focused on attracting new investment into the Yarra Valley,” the spokesperson told Fairfax.
”The Premier’s letter didn’t urge investment. He welcomed the interest that the PNG Prime Minister had shown in the project.”
The revelation comes as a new Galaxy poll reveals Labor and Liberal are split 50-50 on a two-party preferred basis, down from Labor’s advantage of 51-49 recorded in early October. The Government’s primary support stands at 36%, with Liberal at 44%.
However, John Brumby leads opposition leader Ted Baillieu in the preferred premier category 52%-35%, with 13% undecided. Picking up two endorsements from The Age and the Herald Sun, Brumby is expected to hold power.
Both leaders have made an effort to be seen as tough on crime this election, with research suggesting Victorians are feeling less safe in the CBD and on public transport at night.
The Coalition released a policy earlier this year to boost police numbers by 1,600 or 14% over the first term of a new Government, with Labor following up with its announcement to introduce a further 1,966 officers. The Coalition wants to place two officers on every station from 6pm until train services stop running.
But Brumby has countered criticism of rising crime and poor health management with economic credentials, noting that Victoria survived the financial crisis better than most states and continued to deliver balanced budgets.
Pledging $20 million for 300,000 new jobs, payroll tax cuts worth over $200 million along with stamp duty cuts for Victorians in rural areas, Brumby has said the Labor Government can be depended on to deliver solid economic growth.
Baillieu has promised 310 paramedics, while Brumby has promised 402. Labor has pledged 35 new trains and $2 billion for 32 more, while Liberal has pledged to deliver 40 new trains, seven of which to come in the first term.
Both parties have promised to create new anti-corruption watchdogs, while Labor has promised $528 million for new hospitals and the Coalition $630 million. Overall, Labor has announced over 300 new policies worth over $8 billion the Coalition over 200 worth $7.6 billion.