Premier and Minister for Regional Development's media release 5 May 2015.
The Andrews Labor Government is helping regional Victorians recover from the jobs crisis and four years of Coalition cuts to local schools, hospitals and services.
The 2015-16 Victorian Budget invests in the things that regional families need to live a healthy, safe and comfortable life, and funds the projects that communities and businesses need to create jobs and drive growth.
In the jobs crisis that gripped our state over the last four years, regional Victoria fared the worst. Iconic businesses closed down, many more teetered on the edge, and young people packed up and left town in search of jobs.
The Budget invests $500 million in a Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund. Within it, the $200 million Regional Jobs Fund will support projects to give established industries a real future and emerging industries a real chance.
Initiatives include $20 million for Food Source Victoria to promote local exporters, and $7.5 million for the Geelong Regional Innovation and Investment Fund to help automotive workers and businesses find their feet.
The $250 million Regional Infrastructure Development Fund will support the development of new centres and attractions to boost business and bring more visitors to regional Victoria.
Initiatives include $19 million for the landmark 144km Grampians Peak Trail, as well as major upgrades for the Geelong Performing Arts Centre and Eureka Stadium, and a new logistics precinct in Gippsland.
The Budget is also investing $70 million to build a new grandstand at Geelong’s Simonds Stadium.
The Labor Government’s $200 million Future Industries Fund will invest in six high-growth sectors where Victoria is ready to lead the world, offering grants of up to $1 million to support businesses and projects.
This includes $20 million for a New Energy Jobs Fund to revive this job-creating industry. Two of the six high-growth sectors – food and fibre processing and new energy technology – have a natural home in regional Victoria.
Food and fibre contribute over $11 billion to our economy. The Labor Government is investing significantly in Victoria's agriculture industry to secure the livelihoods of farming families and get people back on the land.
This includes $9.4 million to enhance Victoria’s biosecurity, so that our farms are safer and more productive and $760,000 to provide scholarships and training for young farmers to enhance the productivity of their businesses.
The Labor Government is making significant investments to fix regional roads and public transport and upgrade freight corridors across the state, so businesses can get their goods to market sooner and regional families can get to their destinations safer.
This includes $86.7 million to resurface crumbling roads across the state and $50.2 million for works on the road and rail network, undertaking the smaller projects that make a big difference to congestion and safety.
$75.8 million will be invested to strengthen bridges on key freight routes across Victoria, so vehicles with heavier loads can take more direct routes through the country and get goods to market faster.
The Budget also invests $257 million for 21 new VLocity carriages and $50.5 million to upgrade safety at 52 regional level crossings. It also includes up to $220 million for the Murray Basin Rail Project once the business case is finalised, which is expected to occur in coming months. $30 million was fast-tracked in February to get work started.
The previous Coalition Government cut funds for new school buildings by half. Across Victoria, kids were learning and teachers were working in unsafe, uncomfortable and crowded classrooms.
The Budget invests $324.6 million to rebuild, renovate or refurbish 67 Victorian government schools, including 21 in regional Victoria. A further four regional schools will receive additional funding for improvements under the School Improvement Program or as grants to independent schools. The Government will also support the delivery of two new schools in Sale and Bannockburn.
Secondary students deserve a head start on a hands-on vocation. The Budget provides $12 million to support and establish Tech Schools across the state including four in Gippsland, Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong.
TAFE cuts hit regional Victoria the hardest. The Budget invests $300 million to complete the TAFE Rescue Fund, which will help regional campuses like South West TAFE and The Gordon re-establish themselves and offer more courses.
Under the Coalition, millions of dollars were cut from our health system and thousands of regional families were left behind. That’s why the Labor Government is investing $1.3 billion into Victoria’s hospital system.
On top of funding to upgrade medical equipment statewide, $10 million will be provided to Ballarat Base Hospital for a new catheterisation lab, so locals don’t have to travel to Melbourne for urgent heart assessment.
The Budget provides almost $100 million to fix the ambulance crisis by reducing response times and upgrading ambulance stations, equipment and vehicles across the state – including a new station in Wendouree.
Users of ice and their distraught families will get the help and support they need, under the Labor Government’s $45.5 million Ice Action Plan. This includes $15 million to provide Victoria Police with new drug and booze buses.
The Budget invests $7.8 million for 15 more police officers in Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula, and $35.4 million to upgrade the outdated police communications network so regional police officers can stay safe on the job.
To help our firefighters keep families safe, the Budget invests $44 million to build and upgrade fire stations and purchase safer and more technologically advanced fire trucks.
The Budget also provides $50 million for planned burning to reduce fire risk, $9.6 million to roll out emergency medical response at 33 integrated CFA stations and $3 million for an emergency services hub in Morwell.
Reform of Victoria’s coal mines, a long-term health study on the impact of emissions exposure and new guidelines to manage public health are part of a $30 million plan to respond to the Hazelwood coal mine fire.
To attract new residents, visitors and businesses, regional Victorian communities need to stay strong and liveable. That’s why the Budget invests in projects that will preserve their spirit.
A $50 million Stronger Regional Communities plan will help towns attract families and young people to live and work locally, and a further $80 million will help Victoria attract more major events and more visitors.
We will boost support for the arts in the regions, with $20 million for regional tours, galleries and performing arts centres.
$11 million will also be provided to upgrade dilapidated tracks and facilities in National Parks. This is in addition to the $2 million for Canadian State Park in Ballarat.
Quotes attributable to Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews
“Over the last four years, too many young people have packed up and left home in search of jobs. That’s why we’re investing in schools, skills and local industries, to get regional cities and towns back to work.”
“Kids can’t get a first-rate education in a second rate-classroom. That’s why we’re upgrading 25 rundown and overcrowded schools across regional Victoria, because kids need to be safe, comfortable and focused.”
Quotes attributable to Minister for Regional Development, Jaala Pulford
“Dedicated regional funds will create the jobs of the future, while the TAFE Rescue Fund will ensure that kids can get the training they need for the jobs they want.”
“More tourism mean more jobs, that’s why we’re upgrading stadiums and boosting our major events sponsorship to bring more visitors to regional Victoria.”