Communities in regional and rural Victoria will soon have access to a $1 billion fund that supports growth and encourages development, following the passage of the Regional Growth Fund Bill through the Victorian Parliament last night.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund would spearhead new opportunities and better quality of life in regional Victoria.
“This is an exciting time for the Coalition Government and in turn, regional Victoria, with the delivery of our election promise to create a $1 billion fund dedicated to meeting the needs of regional Victorians,” Mr Ryan said.
“The Regional Growth Fund is the centerpiece of this government’s plans to deliver better outcomes in the regions by providing the flexibility that allows communities to drive important local projects and initiatives.”
Mr Ryan said the $1 billion fund would be 60 per cent strategic and 40 per cent local, to ensure there was an appropriate balance between regional goals and local community needs.
“The strategic stream will focus on projects and initiatives that build better infrastructure, facilities and services for regional and rural communities,” Mr Ryan said.
“This includes $100 million towards the extension of natural gas across regional Victoria and the provision of infrastructure that facilitates jobs growth and industry investment, building tourism and diversifying the regional economy.
“The local stream will include the Local Government Infrastructure Account and the Putting Locals First program, which focus on locally identified and prioritised projects.”
Mr Ryan said the $1 billion fund over eight years would supplement, not replace, existing government programs, and allowed local communities to shape their own future.
“The Coalition has listened to the needs of local communities and we are responding. The Regional Growth Fund will be driven from the ground up, reflecting and embracing local and regional priorities,” Mr Ryan said.
“The State Government is absolutely committed to working closely with local communities to protect and enhance the interests of regional and rural Victoria.”
The Regional Growth Fund will be operational from 1 July 2011.