There were wide smiles all round, but it's not every day the State Treasurer shows up to a community group meeting with half a million dollars in his pocket!
The Friends of the Old Bega Hospital were beautifully surprised when Andrew Constance presented them with confirmation of a $500,000 commitment to replace the roof of the much-loved, but currently decrepit, building.
Mr Constance said the money was not conditional on the outcome of March's state election, but it would need to be bolstered by the federal coffers.
“We are very serious about getting this done, getting this fixed,” Mr Constance said to the Friends gathered on site on Saturday afternoon.
“This is the first step from the government following the years of hard work you've all done.
“Now it's time to pressure the Federal Government to also get skin in the game.”
Friends of the Old Bega Hospital president Richard Bomford sincerely thanked Mr Constance for his commitment and said a lot of people had put a lot of work into the idea of keeping the building alive.
“We have had a lot of offers of help from a lot of people in the community – but that was always dependent on the building being fixed,” Mr Bomford said.
“People will be thrilled with this [$500,000 announcement].”
The Old Bega Hospital was being used as a community space when, in May 2004, an electrical fault caused the entire building to be gutted by fire.
It wasn't insured.
The damage has been cleaned up and the building made more or less secure, but the roof is still missing and the interior is open to the weather.
Several outbuildings were not damaged and are still used for purposes including Edge FM community radio and local art groups.
Mr Constance said he believed to rebuild it would cost in the vicinity of $2.24million, “but that could be less depending on what comes from the goodwill of the community”.
“Now we want the feds to have skin in the game – and the council as well,” Mr Constance said.
“Hats off to the committee for sticking with it.”
For more on the Old Bega Hospital and its future plans, visit the Friends of the Old Bega Hospital website by clicking here.