North-East Victoria 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.
- 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.
- A $101 million Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund, which will upgrade tourist landmarks and encourage the growth of the lucrative tourist dollar across the whole state.
- $28.1 million to modernise, regenerate or upgrade six schools across North-East Victoria
- 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 there will be an additional service every day on the Shepparton line.
The Budget provides $15 million towards refurbishing and converting the three train-sets of five carriages into four-train sets of four carriages on the Albury line. This will improve reliability and improve the carriages to make them more comfortable for passengers. We’re also getting on with developing the next generation of trains on the Albury line to enable the classic fleet to be retired and replaced.
$5 million will help plan the development of new rail tracks between Upfield and Somerton. New tracks would mean that services using the Albury, Seymour and Shepparton lines will have an alternative route into Melbourne, meaning more possible services for V/Line passengers.
The Labor Government will partner with Graincorp and invest $8.5 million to upgrade and build new train loading infrastructure and sidings facilities along Victoria’s rail freight network. This will mean an additional 500,000 tonnes of grain per year can be transported by rail, taking trucks off our roads and delivering lower transportation costs to farmers.
The Budget 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 also funds $427 million in road safety upgrades, most of which will be spent in regional Victoria, as well as a $52 million package of works for the smaller, local roads that people rely on every day.
The Budget provides $51.6 million to build overtaking lanes on other major highways across the state. This includes $8.5 million for overtaking lanes between Cobram and Yarrawonga, on the Midland Highway at Nillahcootie and on roads across Alpine areas such as Great Alpine Road, Bright-Tawonga Road, Mt Buffalo Road and Bogong High Plains. There is also $600,000 in funds to plan the new Yarrawonga-Mulwala Bridge.
$151 million will be invested in modernising, upgrading and regenerating regional schools. Local schools to be upgraded include Benalla P-12, Broadford Secondary, the Echuca Schools Regeneration Project, Mansfield Secondary, Rochester Secondary, Rutherglen High. Congupna Primary, Harston Primary, Invergordon Primary, Undera Primary, Waaia Yalca Primary and Zeerust Primary will receive funds for special projects that build school and community pride. There is also funding to plan the future upgrade of Beechworth Secondary.
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 childcare 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 to fund needed hospital upgrades.
The people of Shepparton were taken for granted for too long, and this Budget provides $169 million to redevelop the Goulburn Valley Health service to meet the demands of a growing population.
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.
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, including a housing blitz and more support for specialist services.
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 new stations at Bright and Warburton.
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.
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. 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 to a new Arts Museum for Shepparton, to ensure that Northern Victoria 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 to deliver jobs and prosperity for regional Victoria. “
Quotes attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes
“I’m proud to be part of a Labor Government that continues to deliver for country communities and makes important investment in rebuilding our local schools, health services and planning for the future.”