Labor refuses to guarantee funds for regions
In a real shock to regional communities today Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford refused to commit the proceeds from the sale of the Rural Finance Corporation to regional Victorian infrastructure projects.
This was a promise that had been made by the previous Coalition Government.
The sale of the Rural Finance Corporation last year netted a profit of about $460 million, which was earmarked for re-investment in regional Victoria.
During the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) hearing for the regional development portfolio today, Ms Pulford refused to say whether that commitment would be honoured by the Andrews Labor Government.
$220 million from the proceeds has been committed to the Murray Basin Rail Project but it is not clear where the remainder of around $240 million will be spent.
Comments from Shadow Minister for Regional Development Damian Drum:
“Quite starkly, Ms Pulford would not answer the question following repeated requests by PAEC member and Nationals MP Danny O’Brien.
“Rural Finance Corporation was built on the success of our state’s farming sectors and regional communities rightly expect the money from its sale to be invested back into their communities – not into Melbourne-based projects, such as level crossing removals.
“Given only 2.9 per cent of the state’s major infrastructure projects have been promised outside of Melbourne, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that this money goes back into regional Victoria.
“Yet again we are seeing this government focused on political outcomes in Melbourne at the expense of rural and regional Victoria.”