Regional Victorians have been deprived of new funding for roads, rail and infrastructure by the Brumby Government’s 2010-11 Budget, Shadow Minister for Regional and Rural Development and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan said today.
Mr Ryan said that regional communities were the main driver of Victoria’s economy but were not receiving their fair share from a Brumby Government desperate to buy votes in metropolitan electorates.
“After 11 years in power, Labor has failed to offer a vision for regional communities or provide solutions for declining basic services and crumbling infrastructure,” Mr Ryan said.
“The Brumby Government’s long-awaited Regional Blueprint has been further delayed until the end of June 2010, despite John Brumby’s promise to deliver it in late 2009.
“The Budget also confirms the long-held concerns of the Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition that John Brumby will not fully commit or spend the $610 million Regional Infrastructure Development Fund promised in the 2005 regional blueprint by the 30 June 2010 deadline.
“John Brumby and Minister Jacinta Allan have broken their promises, proving this government cannot be trusted to deliver for regional Victoria, even in an election year.”
Mr Ryan said the Brumby Government Transport Plan’s Better Roads program would only deliver $9 million for regional road projects over the next year.
“This funding falls well short of what is required to fix the major backlog in regional road upgrades created by 11 years of Brumby Government neglect,” Mr Ryan said.
“The Regional Rail Link was announced by John Brumby almost 18 months ago and the funding in the 2010-11 Budget is simply re-announced from last year’s 2009-10 Budget Update.
“Other funding announcements in regional Victoria are bittersweet with promises for a new Bendigo Hospital at $473 million falling hundreds of millions of dollars short of previous cost estimates.
“Central Victorian communities will be forced to wait years for any real action on the Bendigo Hospital, with just 12 per cent of the hospital funding allocated over the next three years.
“The agriculture sector is also largely snubbed in the Budget and grain growers reeling from recent locust plagues have been completely ignored, with no money for locust control.
Mr Ryan said there was little new funding for bushfire response and prevention, with some 19 established bushfire measures re-listed in the Budget.
“Despite numerous recommendations and pressure from the Coalition for the Brumby Government to triple prescribed burning for bushfire prevention, there is no new funding in this Budget to help Victoria catch up after years of Labor’s inaction.
“The target for prescribed burning has also not been revised.”
Mr Ryan said local councils in bushfire-prone areas had been let down in the Budget with just $500,000 new funding to identify and implement Neighbourhood Safer Places, well short of the Municipal Association of Victoria’s request for $12 million.
“John Brumby shifted responsibility for NSPs to local government with an average of just $7,000 in funding for each council, even though the actual costs are up to $1 million per NSP, not including maintenance,” Mr Ryan said.
“The Budget allocation for weed and pest management across Victoria is only $1 million this financial year, with no forward funding committed.”
Mr Ryan said the centrepiece for the Budget was the Victorian Coalition’s policing policies which John Brumby had desperately copied after Labor failed to reduce growing levels of violence and crime during the past 11 years.
“The Brumby Government has also this year re-badged Federal Government funding and claimed it as their own for numerous announcements including cancer hospitals and education funding,” Mr Ryan said.
“After 11 years under city-centric Labor this Budget offers very few solutions or relief for Victorians in regional and rural Victoria,” Mr Ryan said.
“Victorians will be left feeling underwhelmed by today’s Budget.”