The Coalition is calling on the Andrews Labor Government to release its review into regional Victoria immediately.
Former Labor Premier John Brumby has provided the government with his review into ‘regional economic development and services’.
Yet his 61 recommendations will not be made public until Daniel Andrews’ Regional Development Minister, Jaala Pulford, releases her response in October – almost a year into this government.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said the report must be released now.
“Regional Victorians have every right to be very nervous about this review, considering John Brumby was the architect of the north-south pipeline and desal plant disasters,” Mr Walsh said.
“We should not have to wait for the government to now review its own review. Communities deserve to know what Daniel Andrews and Jaala Pulford are considering for their future.
“I already have serious concerns about their Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund, which is already almost half-spent and being used to cost-shift money into Melbourne.
“Now it looks like the future growth and prosperity of regional Victoria is being totally stalled until at least October.
“Regional Victorians are quickly growing sick and tired of the Andrews Labor Government’s constant spin and no substance.
“If the government has nothing to hide and regional Victorians have nothing to fear in this report, why can’t it be released?”
The need for funding to rebuild Korumburra Secondary College has been highlighted in Parliament this week with a petition tabled calling on the Melbourne Labor Government to fund the upgrade.
The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien said the school was in a state of disrepair and urgently needed to be rebuilt.
“Neglected by previous Labor governments for many years, the former Coalition Government provided $5.6 million for the planning and first stage of works at the college,” Mr O’Brien said.
“The Education Minister James Merlino needs to have the vision of the Coalition Government and provide the necessary funds to complete the job."
The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath, who presented the petition to Parliament, said staff did a great job providing a quality education to students, but despite their best efforts, the current condition was not a conducive environment to learn in.
“As a teacher, I know that the environment students are learning in greatly influences their educational outcomes and these students need a facility that is much more contemporary,” Ms Bath said.
“The college services not only Korumburra, but communities such as Loch, Nyora and Poowong, where the population is growing.
These families need to be assured that their children will have access to a facility that caters for their needs now, and into the future.”
Mr O’Brien said the community would know that in addition to the $5.6 million for stage one, the Coalition Government made an election commitment of $9 million to fund the remainder of the rebuild.
“Labor now needs to come to the party and provide the funds to complete a new school,” Mr O’Brien said.
“It’s not fair that the students of Korumburra Secondary College are overlooked by Melbourne Labor just because they live in the country.”
The Liberal-Nationals Coalition cannot support the Melbourne Labor Government’s proposed sale of the Port of Melbourne in its current form.
It is a dud deal for Victorians, particularly country Victorians, and would damage the competitiveness of our export sector.
Victoria is the freight and logistics capital of Australia, with the Port of Melbourne handling around 36 per cent of the country’s container trade.
Victoria’s food and fibre industries, particularly dairy, are some of the biggest users of the port.
Daniel Andrews’ proposal exposes Victorians to a massive compensation payout if a second container port is developed in the next 50 to 70 years.
Creating a monopoly for the next 70 years by restricting the development of a second container port creates a real risk that Victoria will lose trade and jobs to Sydney and Brisbane.
It would also lead to higher costs for exporters, which would be passed straight back to farmers. We have already seen port fees tipped to rise by around 800 per cent in one hit.
This deal would be a noose around the necks of all Victorians and future governments for 70 years.
This is not the proposal that Daniel Andrews took to the election. The only debate before the election was whether Victoria’s second container port should be built at Hastings or Bay West.
The current proposal just adds to Labor’s herd of white elephants and dud deals, including the desalination plant, Myki and north-south pipeline.
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.”
Daniel Andrews is ripping off regional Victoria to prop up projects in Melbourne, Shadow Minister for Regional Development Damian Drum said today.
Mr Drum said the Andrews Labor Government’s Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund contained no additional money for regional Victoria.
He said it was a grab-bag of regional projects that should have been covered by general departmental budgets – like health, sport and education.
“Today’s announcement from Daniel Andrews is just more spin and no substance,” Mr Drum said.
“Daniel Andrews is using his regional fund to do the essentials, so that he has more money left in department budgets to prop up projects in Melbourne.
“Daniel Andrews is ripping off regional communities while he spends billions of dollars in Melbourne.”
It is illogical that Daniel Andrews is undertaking a costly review of Regional Development Victoria while at the same time slashing funding for regional Victoria itself.
The Andrews Labor Government has appointed a panel, headed by former Labor State Premier John Brumby, to review regional development.
In fact, Regional Development Victoria (RDV) remains an efficient link between all levels of government, the business sector and our communities, and has a track record of delivering fantastic outcomes for regional Victoria.
We don’t know how much this RDV review is going to cost, or what will happen to regional investment programs in the meantime. There is a fear it will put the regional investment on hold completely.
Meanwhile, Premier Andrews is cutting the hugely popular $1 billion Regional Growth Fund, which provided funding to communities for their priority projects such as upgrading recreational facilities, parks and CBDs.
The fund secured $3 worth of investment for every $1 contributed by government and created almost 23,000 jobs right across regional and rural Victoria.
Premier Andrews is also cutting the Country Roads and Bridges Program, which provided $40 million a year to local councils so they could fix their priority roads.
Without this vital funding, those councils must either find that money within their budgets by sacrificing other community programs, or simply abandon local road maintenance projects.
It beggars belief that Daniel Andrews would cut funding for these programs while wasting money on an expensive review of RDV.
If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
Instead of media stunts and endless panels and reviews, the city-centric Andrews Labor Government must step up and actually deliver something for regional Victorians.
- $178.1 million to improve Victoria’s long distance V/Line train frequencies
- Extra weekday and weekend trains on the Traralgon and Bairnsdale lines
- 79 extra long-distance V/Line weekly trips around Victoria
A re-elected Victorian Coalition Government will give the biggest boost to Gippsland’s trains in 60 years with new train trips to be added to timetables on the Traralgon and Bairnsdale lines and more than four kilometres of single line to be duplicated between Bunyip and Longwarry, Deputy Premier and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan announced today.
Mr Ryan, who was joined in Traralgon to make the announcement by The Nationals Member for Morwell Russell Northe and The Nationals Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull, said it was great news for Gippsland.
“The Victorian Coalition Government wants to double V/Line’s long distance train patronage within 20 years,” Mr Ryan said
“Commencing in 2016-17, the Coalition will introduce an additional 79 weekly V/Line trips on eight long distance country rail lines – Albury, Ararat, Echuca, Maryborough, Shepparton, Swan Hill and Warrnambool, as well as Bairnsdale.”
Mr Ryan said highlights on the Traralgon and Bairnsdale lines include:
- an extra early-morning weekday return peak period train departing Traralgon, stopping all stations,
- on the return, this new weekday train will depart Southern Cross at 5:10pm and stop all stations, allowing the 4:58pm train to run express from Dandenong to Drouin and then stop all stations to Traralgon,
- an increased weekend train frequency on weekends with three additional return trains on Saturdays and four extra each way on Sundays, increasing train frequencies between 7am and 11pm on Saturdays and 8am and 9pm on Sundays,
- extending the 6:37am weekday train from Traralgon to originate at Sale at 6am,
- extending the 3:19pm Southern Cross to Traralgon train to Sale, arriving at 6:20pm, and
- a new Sunday return train at 9:25am from Southern Cross to Sale and Bairnsdale where it will arrive at 1:10pm, with an extra train departing Bairnsdale at 2:00pm, arriving at Southern Cross at 5:45pm.
Mr Ryan said the duplication of the Bunyip to Longwarry section of single track would benefit passengers by improving train punctuality on the Traralgon and Bairnsdale lines.
“Bunyip and Longwarry stations will each receive a new second platform with at least a 20 metre long canopy on each to protect waiting passengers from the elements,” Mr Ryan said.
Mr Northe said that the extra trains and track duplication would be a huge boost for the Latrobe Valley.
“Weekday commuters and weekend leisure travellers will be winners. The Latrobe Valley has strong links with not just Melbourne’s CBD but also Dandenong, so more frequent trains is a marvellous move,” Mr Northe said.
Mr Bull said Bairnsdale had already benefited from an additional two weekday return V/Line road coaches introduced earlier in 2014 between Traralgon, Sale and Bairnsdale.
“The extra Sunday trains help residents to have a choice of trains to get them to or from Melbourne for the start of the working week,” Mr Bull said.
The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Danny O’Brien said the new timetable would formally bring Sale into V/Line’s commuter belt.
“The extra train trips are all about making it easier to work and study,” Mr O’Brien said.
Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood was thrilled with the announcement.
“For a long time, the community has asked me why the track between Bunyip and Longwarry is only a single line. It is a regular cause of train delays that under a re-elected Victorian Coalition Government will be consigned to the history books,” Mr Blackwood said.
“Because Traralgon line trains share tracks with Metro trains between Pakenham and Southern Cross, it is vital that the V/Line trains from Warragul and Drouin arrive at Pakenham on time, or very close to it, to avoid being delayed by a suburban train pulling out just ahead of the V/Line train.
“Having two tracks between Bunyip and Longwarry will be very helpful to improving train punctuality on the Traralgon and Bairnsdale lines,” Mr Blackwood said.
Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder passed on support and said that the Coalition would also provide V/Line with capital funding to construct a secure train stabling compound at Sale and additional train crew facilities at Bairnsdale.
“This will keep the train that will stable overnight at Sale free from the scourge of vandalism and graffiti,” Mr Mulder said.
Mr Mulder said that the Coalition would also investigate providing improved air-conditioning to V/Line’s N set carriages that were the mainstay of V/Line’s long distance trains.
“We will make a decision on this within a year of being re-elected,” Mr Mulder said.
- $12.5 million to upgrade and expand Grains Centre of Excellence at Horsham
- Research capacity boosted with new laboratories, greenhouses & infrastructure
- Napthine Coalition is building a better agriculture industry for Victoria
A re-elected Coalition Government will invest $12.5 million to upgrade Victoria’s Grains Centre of Excellence, Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh announced today.
Mr Walsh, joined by The Nationals candidate for Lowan Emma Kealy, said the $12.5 million investment would enhance research capabilities at the Horsham centre.
“The Liberal-Nationals Coalition recognises that modern facilities are crucial to equipping our research centres to undertake important, cutting-edge work that supports our agricultural industries,” Mr Walsh said.
“Under a re-elected Liberal-Nationals Coalition Government, $12.5 million will be invested into a modernisation project at the Horsham centre that will improve and expand existing laboratories and greenhouses, and upgrade critical infrastructure including power, water, IT capacity and road access.”
Ms Kealy welcomed the announcement and said it would be another enhancement to Horsham’s growing research hub.
“The creation of the Australian Grains Genebank and the new Bayer CropScience wheat and oilseed breeding centre at Longerenong College alongside an upgraded Grains Centre of Excellence at Horsham will help establish Horsham as the leading place for grains research in Australia,” Ms Kealy said.
“The Grains Centre of Excellence modernisation project will help us to attract and retain world-leading scientists here at Horsham.
“The Nationals in government set a goal to double food and fibre production in Victoria by 2030, and we are committed to making the research, development and extension investments that are critical to helping our farmers meet that target.”
Mr Walsh said the Liberal-Nationals Coalition’s commitment to farmers was in stark contrast to Labor, which failed to commit any additional funding for critical research, development and extension work.
“This $12.5 million commitment comes on top of the additional $60 million a re-elected Coalition Government has already committed for a further four years of the successful Growing Food and Fibre initiative, which partners with industry to co-invest in strategic research, development and extension projects,” Mr Walsh said.
“Only the Liberal-Nationals Coalition has committed the funding necessary to deliver the research, development and extension programs needed that will help Victoria’s food and fibre producers increase productivity and profitability.”
In 2013-14 Victorian cereal, oilseed, pulse and processed grain exports totalled $1.955 billion.
- Labor’s $95,000 study is a joke without commitment to Murray Basin Rail Project
- Labor don’t understand infrastructure & transport needs of regional Victoria
- Labor will cut the country
Labor’s claims today to care about freight logistics around Ararat is completely contradicted by its own policy to scrap Victoria’s biggest freight rail project, The Nationals campaign spokesperson Peter Walsh said today.
Labor says it will “provide Ararat Rural City with $95,000 to undertake a feasibility study and build the case for Ararat to become a major freight and logistics hub”.
Local Labor candidate Daniel McGlone even rightly says: “Freight is one of our state’s leading industries. If Ararat can claim its place in the regional supply chain, we can create local jobs.”
“Labor wants to rip-up $220 million freight rail project and replace it with a $95,000 feasibility study,” Mr Walsh said.
“Labor says they understand the importance of freight to local jobs, yet they will tear up the landmark $220 million Murray Basin Rail Project which will standardise freight rail lines from Mildura to Geelong and deliver huge benefits directly to Ararat.
“The Murray Basin Rail Project will connect north-west Victoria with major export gateways in Portland, Geelong and Melbourne, with billions of dollars worth of produce flowing through Ararat. Around $3 billion worth of food, fibre and minerals is exported from the Murray Basin annually.
“Without the Murray Basin Rail Project and under a Labor government, Ararat will never be a freight hub because vital upgrades to western Victorian rail will never occur.
“Instead, Labor would be forcing more freight onto trucks, ripping up local roads.
“The money for the Coalition’s Murray Basin Rail Project has already been provided for in the 2014-15 budget. If Labor are only going to spend $95,000 on a half-baked feasibility study, there is no doubt they will be spending the remaining $219,905,000 trying to sandbank the city seats from the Greens.
“Labor will cut the country.”
- Deputy Premier announces a re-elected Coalition Government will establish a $100 million infrastructure fund for regional cities
- Wangaratta is one of 10 regional cities to benefit from $100 million fund
- The Nationals candidate for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy welcomes commitment
Wangaratta will be one of 10 regional cities to benefit from a new $100 million Regional Cities Infrastructure Program to be established by a re-elected Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition Government, Deputy Premier and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan announced today.
Mr Ryan said the grants program would be delivered out of the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund and would invest in infrastructure projects that help regional cities keep up with their growing populations.
“Regional Victoria is going through a period of significant growth. While this is fantastic news for communities and local economies, it will place pressure on regional infrastructure,” Mr Ryan said.
“If the Coalition Government is re-elected we will introduce the $100 million Regional Cities Infrastructure Program to support critical economic and social infrastructure, urban renewal, and sporting and cultural facilities in these cities to ensure they remain vibrant and successful.
“The fund will be in addition to – not replacing – existing and future government funding for important traditional infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and police stations.”
The Nationals candidate for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy said the current combined population of Victoria’s 10 biggest regional cities was expected to increase from 800,000 to 1.1 million people by 2031.
“Wangaratta is one of Victoria’s 10 biggest regional cities, with a population of around 27,197 people – expected to reach 31,556 by 2031,” Mr McCurdy said.
“While this isn’t surprising to locals who know the city is a fantastic place to live, it is important that Wangaratta is equipped with the resources to handle the forecast population growth.
“The Nationals, as part of a Coalition Government, know that when the regions do well, the entire state does well. So we are committed to ensuring regional cities continue to thrive.
“Through the Regional Growth Fund the Coalition Government has already invested more than $7 million into 34 projects in Wangaratta, leveraging almost $13 million worth of total investment.
“This compares to the Labor Party’s policy of scrapping the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund – and therefore the Regional Cities Infrastructure Program – and replacing it with their failed Regional Infrastructure Development Fund which over 11 years invested just $611 million across the entire state.”