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The Coalition has committed $1 million to upgrade the Seymour RSL if it wins this weekend’s federal election.
In what would be a major boost for the RSL, the money would be used to extend the meeting hall and function area, improve facilities and open a playground.
Tuesday’s funding announcement was attended by Liberal and Nationals candidates for Nicholls Steve Brooks and Sam Birrell, as well as Regionalisation Minister and Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie.
Speaking at the RSL, Senator McKenzie said the Coalition wanted to ensure veterans were supported upon exiting service.
“We believe in the RSL and we want to make sure they’ve got a fantastic facility,” Senator McKenzie said.
“The only risk to this is obviously the election of a Labor Government and it is my fervent belief ... that when they get into government, they cut defence spending.”
Mr Brooks was proud the Coalition had committed to the funding.
“If you’re not going to stand behind guys who have put their lives on the line for the country, then who are you going to stand behind?” he said.
“The more I engage with this community, the more I felt I really had to support a place where they could socialise ... after the sacrifice that they’ve made.”
Mr Birrell said it was the right and proper thing to do to make sure veterans were looked after and had a facility where they could get together and bond as a community.
“You can see the need for the facility. (The current building) is not fit for purpose, particularly out the back,” he said.
“This is us making sure that you feel valued for what you’ve done — and that’s as much that sentiment as the brilliant facility that’s going to be built.”
Both candidates stressed the importance of supporting veterans’ mental health and identified the Seymour Community Wellbeing Hub as a major component of supporting the district’s defence community.
Seymour RSL vice-president Matt McLaughlin was ecstatic about the news.
“It’s actually unbelievable,” he said.
“The amount of years this place has neglected itself to give back to the community, I think it’s about time we looked after the Seymour RSL and RSLs in general.
“Getting this announcement is massive. It’ll double our capacity here, it will bring community groups — not just veterans, (but) the CFA and Lions clubs.”
Mr McLaughlin was also excited about the prospect of hiring out the RSL for functions such as birthdays, anniversaries and weddings.
Entering the last week of the election campaign, the two candidates were feeling optimistic about their prospects with less than a week on the hustings remaining.
Mr Brooks said the feedback he had been receiving from pre-polling “has been really positive”, while Mr Birrell said he was feeling “anxious and tired but incredibly supported”.
Both candidates said the community was unlikely to see any more announcements before the election.
The Labor Party was contacted for comment on whether they would match the Coalition’s commitment to the RSL and its $10 million dollar pledge to the community wellbeing hub.