Libs back Officer

By Jade Lawton
OFFICER businesses now have bipartisan support after the Liberal National Coalition this week promised it would not approve any road that destroyed the town’s centre.
The pledge follows a similar commitment from Gembrook MP Tammy Lobato two weeks ago.
Officer has become embroiled in State Election promises after plans emerged showing that a new arterial road, connecting Tivendale Road to the Pakenham Bypass, would cut straight through the heart of the town – and its business community – to protect endangered native grasses discovered in Gilbert’s Paddock.
Shadow Planning Minister Matthew Guy was in Officer on Wednesday to meet with affected business owners and residents while announcing Coalition plans to scrap changes that would see businesses destroyed.
“Currently the proposal to realign Tivendale Road will have drastic consequences on the Officer community and the Coalition will work with Officer for a better outcome,” he said.
Liberal candidate for Gembrook Brad Battin said the community welcomed the commitment after a ‘lack of interest’ from the Brumby Government.
“Local Gembrook MP Tammy Lobato and Premier John Brumby have shown little interest in this issue, yet the reality is that under the current plan several businesses would be forced to close,” Mr Battin said.
But Ms Lobato said the pledge was an empty promise as she had already assured business owners that other road alternatives would be investigated.
“The current plan to which the Opposition refers has already been set aside thanks to my intervention,” she said.
“The Opposition has latched onto this issue in the desperate hope of a vote grab but no one is fooled by these Johnny-comelatelys who will say and do anything, including mislead the public.
“As I stated … on 25 October, my view is that it is vital to save local businesses and through a co-operative process reach a better outcome for Officer in terms of road configuration. I will be working productively to make this happen. Just what are the Opposition doing to help?
Bass MP Ken Smith, whose electorate takes in a portion of Officer south of the railway line, and Eastern Victoria MP Edward O’Donohue said the Coalition was committed to supporting small business, and jobs, in Officer.