South-west Victoria is a big winner in the Victorian Budget . 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 for infrastructure and services, with upgrades to irrigation, water security, mobile blackspots, street scaping and important planning work for local projects across Victoria.
- A massive $1.6 billion investment to improve regional public transport and roads, including a $518 million upgrade of the Ballarat line and extra services on the Warrnambool and Geelong lines.
- 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.
- $19 million to modernise, upgrade or regenerate six schools, and funds to establish a Tech School in Ballarat and Geelong.
- 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, as well as creating jobs.
The Budget invests $1.3 billion to make regional rail services more frequent and reliable, and position regional Victoria for the growth it will need.
A major $518 million upgrade to the Ballarat rail line will duplicate a 17-kilometre section of single track between Deer Park West and Melton and three kilometres of track west of Warrenheip
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. The Budget includes $3 million to investigate transport options in Armstrong Creek and $3 million to undertake the detailed planning needed to duplicate the line between South Geelong and Waurn Ponds.
The Andrews Labor Government will partner with Graincorp and invest $8.5 million to upgrade and build new train loading infrastructure and sidings facilities along the soon to be upgraded Murray Basin Rail 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 invested in regional Victoria, as well as a $52 million package of works for the smaller, local roads that people rely on every day, and $51.6 million to build overtaking lanes on other major highways across the state.
$151 million will be invested in modernising, upgrading or regenerating regional schools. Local schools to be upgraded include Brauer Secondary, Casterton Secondary, Portland Bay School, Portland Primary, Portland Secondary and Warrnambool College. Macarthur Primary will receive fund for a special project that builds school and community pride. Baimbridge College will also get funds to plan for an upgrade.
Jobs start with skills. The Government’s $320 million TAFE Rescue Fund has already saved campuses across the state including those in south-west Victoria, such as South-West TAFE, Federation Training and The Gordon. A $92 million investment in 10 new Tech Schools, including in Ballarat and Geelong, 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 invest $2.1 million in an urgent care facility at Moyne Health service and $6 million for a new 18-20 bed drug and alcohol facility in the Grampians region.
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.
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. $36.8 million will upgrade and replace rundown regional police stations, including Colac.
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 continue and expand the Emergency Medical Response Program to 35 integrated Country Fire Authority brigades.
As part of a broader $46.2 million package, a new training facility will be built in the Central Highlands area to replace the Fiskville Training College, ensuring high quality training facilities are available to the State’s firefighters.
Victoria is the sporting capital. The Budget invests $46.4 million for community sport and events, including support for 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 Anglesea. The Budget creates a $20 million Regional Events Fund, to support a strong and sustainable calendar of regional events.
The budget also has $8 million to assist the Gunditj Mirring traditional owners progress the UNESCO World Heritage listing of Budj Bim and to help create a unique and sustainable tourist destination.
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 Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford
“Our ongoing dedicated regional funds will attract more people to regional Victoria and that means more jobs and stronger communities.”
Quotes attributable to Member for Western Victoria Gayle Tierney
“Kids can’t get a first rate education in a second rate classroom. School upgrades across Portland and Warrnambool will ensure local kids can get the education they deserve.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020