Many communities in regional Victoria are “highly under-serviced” by public transport, with flow on effects to liveability acting as a handbrake on potential population growth, a new report today has found.
Infrastructure Australia released the 2022 Regional Strengths and Infrastructure Gaps report today, shining a light on the poor state of transport infrastructure across regional Victoria.
According to Infrastructure Australia, public transport in regional Victoria is largely unreliable or non-existent stating:
“… limited options to access critical public services affects liveability and can re-enforce disadvantage and social isolation in regional communities.
“Lack of public transport infrastructure can limit economic growth in the region’s smaller towns and the ability of businesses in these communities to attract workers.” (Source: 2022 Regional Strengths and Infrastructure Gaps, p 451)
The report also identified:
- A lack of access to public transport in the Central Highlands and Wimmera Mallee is severely hampering quality of life for sick elderly residents and the ability for young people to study at TAFE,
- Better public transport promotes liveability which is critical to attract and retain skilled workers,
- The Hume and Shepparton regions will suffer if government fails to address the “low level of public transport access to health services, commercial centres, community facilities and entertainment”,
- The rail freight network in the Mallee has “more assets in average, poor, or end-of-life condition, compared to regional passenger rail”,
- Gippsland primary producers will miss out on improved productivity and profitability as a result of poor freight rail links with Victoria’s ports, and;
- Despite population growth in the Grampians region in recent decades, more remote communities remain “poorly serviced by public transport”.
Deputy Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Public Transport Steph Ryan said the poor state of regional transport infrastructure was symptomatic of Labor’s city-centric ideology.
“The unreliability and neglect of Victoria’s public transport infrastructure is a handbrake on regional Victoria’s growth,” Ms Ryan said.
“Our regions are growing rapidly, and we need to put in place the foundations to support local people to travel between towns and to the city.
“Adding to the problems is the shocking condition of our freight network which is crippling productivity and profitability of our primary producers and agricultural industries.”
Ms Ryan said the report showed extreme gaps in access to public transport across the state.
“In regions like the Mallee and the Grampians, public transport is very limited, further disadvantaging communities and stunting development,” Ms Ryan said.
“While Labor MPs throw billions of dollars down the gurgler in metro project cost blowouts, those of us living outside metropolitan Melbourne are being treated as second-class citizens.
“This report confirms yet again that the Andrews Labor Government is failing to provide a plan to recover and rebuild our infrastructure.”