Gippsland is a big winner in the Victorian Budget 2016/17. It’s all about jobs, with a record investment in infrastructure and other projects to create new jobs in the regions and help workers gain a foothold in the fast-growing sectors that will define Victoria’s economic future. The Budget includes:
- $325 million in jobs initiatives for infrastructure and services, with upgrades to irrigation, water security, mobile blackspots, street scaping and important planning work for local projects across Victoria. This includes $30 million to connect the Korumburra district to a secure water supply.
- A massive investment of $1.6 billion in regional transport to improve public transport and roads, with more V/Line rolling stock ordered to support further services and address overcrowding issues.
- $48.2 million for the upgrade of the Penguin Parade at Phillip Island Nature Park.
- A $40 million package to help diversify the economy in the Latrobe Valley to bring in new industries and businesses and create jobs, including a new Morwell Hi-Tech precinct.
- $25 million to upgrade five schools across Gippsland, and the establishment of a local Tech School.
- A payroll tax cut for approximately 36,000 businesses across Victoria, with the payroll tax-free threshold lifted to $650,000 over the next four years.
In regional Victoria, safe and reliable transport is everything, and the Budget provides a massive investment to improve public transport and roads across rural and regional Victoria.
The Budget invests $1.3 billion to make regional rail services more frequent and reliable, and position the whole system for the longer-term expansion that our growing regions will eventually need.
More services are coming, too. $280 million will fund 27 new VLocity carriages, and $131 million will increase passenger rail services for Ballarat, Traralgon, Geelong, Shepparton, Bendigo and Warrnambool. This means that the Gippsland line will have an additional two off-peak return services every day.
The Budget includes $2.6 million to plan for increased services, including upgrades between Moe and Bairnsdale and the duplication of the Bunyip River Bridge, and $9 million for station upgrades on the Gippsland line.
The Budget also provides $260 million to repair unsafe and deteriorating road surfaces across regional Victoria. Further investment will fund measures such as flexible road barriers and centre line upgrades.
The Budget invests $51.6 million to build overtaking lanes on other major highways across the state. This includes $9 million for the Princes Highway East between Orbost and the NSW border. The Princes Highway East also gets $3 million to fund pre-construction works for the Traralgon to Sale section of the important road upgrade.
The Budget also funds $427 million in road safety upgrades, most of which will be invested in regional Victoria, as well as a $52 million package of works for the smaller, local roads that people rely on every day.
$151 million will be invested in modernising, upgrading or regenerating regional schools. Local schools include Baringa Special School, Drouin Secondary, Morwell Park Primary, Warragul Regional College and Yarram Primary. Ellinbank Primary will receive funds for a special projects that build school and community pride. Wonthaggi Secondary will also get planning money for its proposed upgrade.
Jobs start with skills. The Government’s $320 million TAFE Rescue Fund has already saved campuses across the state. A $92 million investment in 10 new Tech Schools, including one in the Latrobe Valley, will bring a real, hands-on education into the secondary school curriculum.
Early learning gets a boost. The Government is investing $4.4 million to help struggling regional kinders keep operating, $3.8 million to support occasional child care services in rural areas, and $133 million to make sure parents can access free Maternal and Child Health services.
The Budget invests $2.9 billion in our health system, so families in rural and regional Victoria have hospitals and services they can rely on. This includes $200 million for the Regional Health Infrastructure Fund, which will include $1 million planning funding for the redevelopment of Warragul Hospital.
Other investments include $132 million for clinical mental health services, $57.3 million to support vulnerable children and their families, and additional funding to confront the ice crisis that is gripping regional Victoria.
The Budget funds a landmark package for the Latrobe Valley, with $40 million to bring in new, high-growth industries and $51.2 million to implement the findings of the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry, including funds to improve local health. A $12.4 million investment will drive the transition from brown coal to renewable energy.
It’s a fact: there are higher rates of family violence reports in regional areas, and the Budget invests $572 million to implement the initial response to the Family Violence Royal Commission.
Country police deserve our support, too. The Budget invests $596 million in additional police, equipment, technology and services across the whole state, so police get the resources they need to keep us safe. $36.8 million will upgrade and replace rundown police stations across regional Victoria including the rebuilding of Cowes and Mallacoota stations.
Regional emergency services need the best training to deal with the threat of fire. The Budget includes $80.7 million to upgrade facilities at six emergency training centres, and $74 million to boost forest fire management. A further $37.1 million will be invested to continue and expand the Emergency Medical Response Program to 35 integrated Country Fire Authority brigades to save lives.
The Budget invests $460 million to protect and expand the State’s water resources, $15 million to protect coasts against erosion and flooding, $29 million to protect threatened species, $20 million to make parks more accessible to all tourists, and $18 million to increase support for Landcare groups across the state.
Victoria is the sporting capital. The Budget invests $46.4 million for community sports and events, including to support country football and netball clubs. Funds are also provided to promote responsible hunting and boost recreational fishing, and $6 million to upgrade four Surf Life Saving Clubs across Victoria including the clubhouse at Cape Paterson. The Budget also creates a $20 million Regional Events Fund, to support a strong and sustainable calendar of regional events.
The Andrews Labor Government has recently committed $10 million from the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund towards upgrading the Latrobe Valley Performing Arts Centre in Traralgon, and funded a $4 million upgrade for the West Gippsland Performing Arts Centre in Warragul, to ensure that Gippsland remains a strong arts, sporting and cultural hub within Victoria.
Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews
“All Victorians deserve decent services – no matter where they live. That’s why we’re investing in regional public transport, schools and roads across Gippsland to deliver jobs and prosperity for this great area of our state. “
Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing
“The Labor Government is investing in Gippsland’s success – giving us the support and engagement we need now and for generations to come. This is in contrast to the Coalition who abandoned Gippsland and refused to fund communities for growth and prosperity.”