A boost to the regional tourism economy is just one of a swag of benefits for country Victorians ahead of the Commonwealth Games in 2026.
With the date now set for a March 17 opening ceremony, we must not waste any time planning the work that must be done to make sure our rural and regional towns are ready for an influx of tens of thousands of tourists, athletes and support staff.
The Gippsland region, Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong have already been announced as host cities, while other regional locations like Mildura, Shepparton and Wodonga are crying out to be brought into the fold.
But while regional Victoria continues to suffer from inequality in allocation of government funding for new infrastructure and severe worker shortages across the healthcare workforce, upgrades to sporting infrastructure will be just part of the planning puzzle.
Regional Victoria deserves our fair share.
More visitors will mean more demand on our country roads, public transport, health services and our small businesses which is why planning to host the 2026 Games must take into account necessary upgrades to hospitals and transport infrastructure.
Remember this November that Labor has been in government for 20 of the past 24 years.
In that time Labor’s presided over a catastrophic neglect of road asset maintenance, a flailing regional V/Line network and failed to plan for future demand that growing regional communities will have on our hospitals.
Only The Nationals in government will invest to build new hospitals at Mildura, Warragul and Melton – with more announcements still to come – as part of our plan to fix the health care crisis in Victoria.
We’ll also deliver the nation’s first Regional Infrastructure Guarantee that 25 per cent of new government spending on infrastructure will go into regional Victoria.
This includes for those works that will be needed to prepare our communities for the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
We deserve our fair share. Only a change in government in November will make sure it’s delivered.