The Victorian Coalition Government's 2014-15 Victorian State Budget delivers record funding to build a better Victoria by investing in the future infrastructure and services to unlock the potential and drive growth across regional and rural communities.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan said the Coalition Government was investing in new job-creating infrastructure projects that would deliver more efficient roads and rail, better hospitals and schools and safer communities.
"The Coalition Government is building a better regional and rural Victoria by delivering infrastructure and services that unlock the growth potential of the regions," Mr Ryan said.
"Responsible financial management means we have delivered a healthy $1.3 billion surplus and maintain our AAA credit rating, enabling us to invest more in rural and regional Victoria."
Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government's investment in regional and rural Victoria was spearheaded by a commitment of up to $220 million to build the Mildura to Geelong rail standardisation link as part of the Murray Basin Rail Project.
"The Coalition Government's Murray Basin Rail Project will transform the movement of freight across the state and unlock economic potential by delivering key country freight rail line upgrades and building the Mildura to Geelong rail standardisation link," Mr Ryan said.
"An additional $209.5 million is also delivered for the maintenance of new stations, bridge, other infrastructure and the delivery of new train and bus services along the $4.1 billion new Regional Rail Link, which will transform regional passenger rail services.
"Other rail investment includes $5.8 million to improve disability access at the Geelong Station and to upgrade the bus interchanges at Moorabool Street and North Shore in Geelong, $14.3 million for a new crossing loop at Rowsley to improve rail operations on the Ballarat line and $1.3 million for planning for the Avalon Airport Rail Link transport corridor," Mr Ryan said.
Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government was strongly investing in building and upgrading roads across Victoria with an extra $130 million for roads maintenance and restoration, increasing our roads maintenance investment to more than $500 million for the coming year.
The State Budget delivers key regional and rural road projects in partnership with the Commonwealth including:
- $362.2 million to duplicate the Princes Highway from Winchelsea to Colac;
- $86 million for the Calder Highway interchange at Ravenswood;
- $31.8 million for the Princes Highway East interchange at Sand Road;
- $11 million for Princes Highway East overtaking lanes; and
- $56.2 million for the Transport Solutions initiative which delivers targeted improvement projects to reduce bottlenecks and improve transport flows in key regional areas.
The Coalition Government will also invest $12.9 million to deliver the Pioneer Road duplication.
"In stark contrast, Labor's transport plan says it will set aside just $1 billion over eight years, or $125 million a year, for regional roads – slashing regional roads spending by two-thirds," Mr Ryan said.
"The money Labor cuts from country roads will be used to pay for Melbourne level crossing removals, where 32 of the 40 promised level crossing removals are in Labor held seats."
Hospitals and healthcare
Mr Ryan said that country hospitals would share in an extra $287 million to hospital bottom-line funding over the next year alone, to treat more patients and assist more people in emergency departments.
"The Coalition Government is investing in building better hospitals and delivering more efficient services so that regional Victorians can access the best healthcare," Mr Ryan said.
The State Budget's key regional and rural health investments include:
- $73 million for Stage 2a of the Latrobe Regional Hospital redevelopment;
- $28million to build the new Barwon Health-North facility;
- $14 million for the Boort Hospital redevelopment; and
- $8.6 million for two new Prevention & Recovery Care (PARC) mental health services, at Mildura and Warrnambool.
"This new spending builds on what we have already delivered including the biggest regional hospital in Australia's history – the $630 million Bendigo Hospital; the $46.4 million expansion of the Ballarat Hospital, the $65.6 million Echuca Hospital redevelopment and the $10 million Castlemaine Hospital upgrade, and hospital redevelopments at Mildura, Swan Hill, Kerang, Charlton, Numurkah, Geelong and Kilmore," Mr Ryan said.
"The regions will also share in $34.1 million to expand drug and alcohol treatment services and tackle the use of illicit drugs including ice.
"This funding boost will provide support services for over 2,000 extra people a year in rural and metro areas to respond to the growth in the use of ice," Mr Ryan said.
Education and training
Mr Ryan said regional and rural schools would share in a massive $500 million school capital investment package in the 2014-15 State Budget.
"The Coalition Government is building new schools, including $10 million Horsham College for modernisation and regeneration, $8.5 million for Geelong High School as part of $20 million commitment for a modernisation, and $7.8 for the Ballarat High School modernisation," Mr Ryan said.
"Additional to general budget spending, we're also investing $5 million over four years from the Regional Growth Fund into Year 12 retention in the regions.
"The regions will also share in $272.8 million in funding for increased support for students with moderate to severe disabilities in mainstream and specialist government schools.
"For skilling Victorians, the Coalition Government is investing $1.2 billion per year in vocational education and training. The Victorian Coalition Government is also investing $30 million in training for automotive workers," Mr Ryan said.
Food and fibre production
Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government will continue to build a stronger food and fibre sector with $41 million of new initiatives in the 2014-15 Budget.
"This year's budget includes $35.4 million over four years, plus a further $6 million thereafter, for the Government's Food into Asia Action Plan to increase the volume and value of food exports into Asia, as we aim to double Victorian agricultural production by 2030," Mr Ryan said.
"The 2014-15 Budget will assist farmers in the war against wild dogs with an additional $1.8 million allocated for aerial baiting and ground baiting in North East Victoria and Gippsland.
"There is also $2.3 million to help establish a poppy industry in Victoria, and $1.6 million to deliver the Goulburn Valley fruit growing industry concessional loans package.
"The Coalition Government will also invest a further $40 million in water management initiatives which will help protect more communities from floods, tackle salinity and support the Murray Darling Basin Authority," Mr Ryan said.
Mr Ryan said the State Budget continues to invest in the CFA and the three highest CFA budgets in Victoria's history have all been delivered by the current Victorian Coalition Government.
"The 2014-15 CFA Budget is $457 million, $58 million more than Labor provided in its last year of office. This record investment shows Labor's 'CFA budget cuts' mantra is an outright lie," Mr Ryan said.
"The CFA investment will now include a bonus $17.2 million to purchase 49 additional medium tankers for CFA brigades on top of the 29 vehicles already coming out of the CFA's usual budget, and $20.5 million to replace all existing respiratory protection equipment for Victoria's fire services.
"The State Budget delivers $13.5 million to roll out Tasers to all regional 24-hour police stations as well as $14.4 million for the new Echuca Police Station and $8.4 million to establish an emergency service precinct at Ballarat West," Mr Ryan said.
Funding announced in the 2014-15 State Budget was in addition to the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund, which has so far invested almost $400 million in more than 1,400 projects, generating more than $1.6 billion of total investment and expected to create thousands of jobs.
Media contact: Les White
0409 805 122