Regional Victorians are demanding a fair share of the state’s spend on hospitals, schools, infrastructure and mental health in the lead up to the State Budget on May 3.
Restoring the funding that State Labor’s axed from regional development and agriculture in the past few years will also be crucial to ensure farmers and country communities aren’t left behind.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said the Andrews Labor Government needed to stop treating regional Victorians like an ATM by finally delivering us our fair share of budget funds.
“While every Victorian taxpayer is wearing the cost of Labor’s $24 billion of blowouts on mismanaged major projects, regional Victorians are even worse off because city-centric Labor is denying us our fair share,” Mr Walsh said.
“Last year’s $191 million cut to road asset maintenance is putting lives at risk on dangerously rough roads, while upgrades and new services promised for regional public transport are still off in the never-never.
“Victorians are paying more with 40 new or increased taxes since Daniel Andrews was elected in 2014, but getting less, under Labor’s cruel cuts to regional development and agriculture.
“Billions of dollars have gone to waste under Labor which could have been spent on better hospitals, schools, community sports facilities or mental health services in regional Victoria.”
In the last budget, Labor cut nearly $285 million from regional development and $66.7 million from trade and global engagement.
The $61.3 million axed from the agriculture spend has now translated into more than 100 jobs lost at Agriculture Victoria in recent months as the Andrews Government ruthlessly pursues ‘budget savings’.
The 2022-23 Victorian Budget must deliver a fair share for regional Victorians including:
- Investment in rebuilding Victoria’s mental health workforce and to help sick Victorians get better with measures that will halve surgery waitlists,
- Funds to upgrade schools and hospitals, including at Seymour, Bairnsdale, Foster, Baimbridge, Cohuna, Kyabram and Yarrawonga,
- The $5 million required for planning work to fix Labor’s mistakes on the stalled Murray Basin Rail Project,
- Funds to reverse cuts to community grants for biosecurity initiatives against the spread of Queensland fruit fly,
- New residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation beds for rural and regional communities, sooner rather than later,
- Investment in CFA and SES facilities and equipment at Rochester, Appin South, Myrtleford, Yarram, Lakes Entrance and Kilmore,
- Measures to cement Victorian farmers as world-leaders with a comprehensive boost to agriculture research and development; and,
- Funds to advance key infrastructure projects, like the Shepparton Bypass, and the Leongatha heavy vehicle bypass.
“Creating new career opportunities that entice young people to stay and raise their family in regional Victoria will also be crucial to help the state recover and rebuild,” Mr Walsh said.
“Proper investment that delivers a fair share to communities outside of Melbourne will ensure all of Victoria thrives.”