THERE is still hope for Federal Government funding towards the Joondalup performing arts centre, according to Mayor Troy Pickard.
Mr Pickard and chief executive Garry Hunt were in Canberra last week for the National General Assembly of Local Government and organised a meeting with Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and Cities and Digital Transformation Minister Angus Taylor.
“We were thinking about how we as a City progress some of the big-picture items that are in our strategic plan,” Mr Pickard told the Times.
He said these included the proposed $100 million Joondalup performing arts centre and Boas Place, which proposes a mix of accommodation, residential apartments and commercial offices in the city centre.
“We’d been thinking how do we get, in what is a very tight financial environment with the state and federal governments, their buy-in and their assistance,” he said.
“Reality is, there’s no money in the State system and I suspect not for a good decade.
“But there are opportunities in the Federal system… and I suspect there will be some windows of opportunity in the near future for some funds to be captured and spent here in WA.”
Mr Pickard said the Federal Government was currently rolling out the City Deals initiative, which brings together all levels of government to co-ordinate investment plans for cities.
He said he believed a Perth City Deal was being explored, but it was still “probably three or four” years away.
“We were invited to join that deal, but I felt it was too far down the track and we have some significant projects ready to roll where we’re looking for immediate funds,” he said.
However, he said the City was now looking at the recently announced $1 billion National Housing Infrastructure Fund, which aims to support local governments to finance critical infrastructure.
“It’s been referred to by the Treasurer as ‘Micro City Deals’ and Minister Taylor has encouraged us to develop an application,” Mr Pickard said.
“We shared with Minster Taylor where we were at as a City and what we’ve been working towards the last decade and to say he was impressed would be an understatement.
“All of the pillars we have in our City, all of our plans, all of our foundations is what he is looking for to embrace.
“It ticks so many boxes that he’s encouraged us to work with his office and his department as they prepare the guidelines for the program.
“He sees Joondalup as a benchmark local government for Micro City Deals.”
Mr Pickard said it was “a super positive meeting”.
“I’ve sat in hundreds of meetings with prime ministers, premiers, ministers from around the country and it would be fair to say that I’ve never had such a positive interaction with a minister before,” he said.
“It was really heartening; he was so enthusiastic about what we’re trying to do in the City.
“He understood the pillars we were trying to create for our City to grow and prosper.”
Mr Pickard said he would be asking the council at tonight’s meeting to request City officers prepare a Micro City Deal application.
He said a deal would “bundle together a number of projects… in to an overall package that could be funded”.
“We would bundle Boas Place and the Joondalup performing arts centre and potentially other projects in the city centre, which would need to be explored,” he said.