Member for Lowan and Deputy Leader of The Nationals, Emma Kealy has used her first address to the Victorian Parliament for 2023 to call on the Andrews Labor Government to honour its promise to “deliver for all Victorians” and increase its investment in regional Victoria.
Speaking in Parliament Ms Kealy said it was her job in opposition to hold the government to account, highlighting healthcare, roads, childcare, sports, public transport, and the gas monopoly in Lowan as some of the issues which remain in urgent need of state government funding support.
Ms Kealy said she continued to hear from members of the Lowan community who felt extremely let down by the continued degrading and crumbling of our country roads, while seeing the roads maintenance budget cut year after year.
“We are seeing lives lost on our roads because there is no action – because there is not a specific fund for our local councils to dip into to help them manage their roads rather than having to lift council rates over and over again,” she said.
“Our schools are also being left to decline and our hospitals urgently need upgrades but again we are seeing more and more funding cuts and money shifted from our smallest communities into larger regional centres, making it even harder to attract medical professionals – more nurses, more allied health professionals – to our region.
Ms Kealy also raised the projects that The Nationals had made a commitment to over the 2022 election campaign, noting that no election commitments of any depth were received from other parties, including Labor.
“I will work in good faith with all relevant Ministers to ensure state government investment in these legitimate and worthy local projects,” she said.
Projects raised by Ms Kealy included:
- Education: Funding commitments for St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School in Stawell; St Brigid’s College in Horsham; Kaniva College, and Casterton Primary School.
- Childcare: increased infrastructure for childcare, with Hamilton and Dunkeld a high priority, and access to training for more people to work in the sector,
- Healthcare: redevelopment of the Mortlake Community Health Centre; the upgrade of the ICU and Emergency Department at the Hamilton Campus of Western District Health Service, and the upgrading of the Willaura Hospital.
- Sport: various funding commitments to Horsham City Oval, Anzac Park Warracknabeal; Horsham Coughlin Park tennis courts; Dimboola and Balmoral Bowling Clubs, Stawell Central Park and Davis Park Nhill.
- Regional Development: upgrade of the Horsham aerodrome to receive domestic flights; an investigation into the return of passenger rail to Horsham and Hamilton; developing the Pomonal tunnel track in the Grampians National Park to a walking track; the Casterton rail trail to Sandford; construction of the Natimuk weir; unlocking of the gas monopoly in the region, and completion of the duplication of the Western Highway.
Ms Kealy concluded by saying it was a great privilege to be back in Parliament representing the constituents of Lowan for a third term.
“There is a lot we want to achieve over the next four years.
“I will stand side by side with my community to make sure we do deliver for regional Victoria and I will give local people a strong voice in this place.
“I will always stand by their side, and every single day over the coming four years I will fight for a fair deal for my electorate and make sure that local people’s voices are heard,” she said.