• Loddon Herald

Bigger share for country


ON THE bottom line of the Victorian economy – and story – regional Victoria has always punched above its weight.

And for too long has been forced to keep doing that, without the reinvestment any community, operation and enterprise needs to keep moving forward.

That is why Opposition Leader Matthew Guy and I have announced that a Liberals and Nationals government elected in November will implement the nation’s first Regional Infrastructure Guarantee.

A guarantee that regional Victoria will see a massive 25 per cent of all new government capital investment for infrastructure projects in regional Victoria in our first term of government.

We don’t just suggest regional Victorians have been denied their fair share of state government funding for too long – you just have to look around the state and you can see it everywhere.

Our regional hospitals, schools, sports grounds, roads and rail infrastructure have been short-changed with decades of careless neglect by successive, city-centric Labor governments

When it comes to roads we are also talking about the safety of everyone who travels on them – and the further they fall into disrepair the harder it is going to be, the more expensive it is going to be, to get them back up to an acceptable standard.

Analysis of the 2021-22 State Budget papers shows just 11.4 per cent of Labor’s asset investment was directly allocated to projects in regional Victoria

For the current budget – 2022 to 2023 – this has crept up less than two per cent to a paltry 13 per cent in 2022- 23.

And while cost blowouts on Labor’s mismanaged major projects reaches a staggering $28.1 billion, the Andrews Labor Government has cut the regional development budget by 68 per cent – a total of $370.3 million – in the past two years alone.

Labor’s cuts also extended to road maintenance, which is down 28 per cent (a total of $240 million) in the same period.

Not surprisingly, regional Victorians have had more than enough.

The only way this is going to change is a change in government come November – I am in no doubt that is the only thing that will deliver regional Victorians its truly fair share and the funds invested in our state.

Under a progressive Victorian Government for all Victorians the Liberals and Nationals when elected will treat all Victorians with respect and fairness by making sure they all receive their fair share of the cake.

That’s why we have come up with this guaranteed share, a political promise that will not just be a first for Victoria but will show all other states how to look after all the interests of all their people.

Regional Victorians have missed out for too long under city-centric Labor governments.

New projects such as the $750 million Mildura Base Public Hospital, or a restored Country Roads and Bridges Program, are exactly the transformational infrastructure our regional communities need.

A new report by Victoria’s Parliamentary Budget Office has clearly exposed the Andrews Labor Government’s severe under-investment in regional Victoria.

The report, Asset investment excluding Australian Government funding, reveals the extreme neglect of regional Victoria under a city-centric Labor Government that’s investing so much more – on a per person basis – in metropolitan Melbourne compared to what we people in the regions have been allkocated.

It found a per person asset investment in metropolitan Melbourne of $15,268 versus a paltry $7142 in regional Victoria in the 2021-22 State Budget.

There can be no denying regional Victorians have been missing out on our fair share under neglectful Labor governments in 19 of the past 23 years.

Daniel Andrews’ great regional rip-off has been exposed. We always knew this city-centric Andrews Labor Government was short-changing regional Victorians, but this report shows just how deep the neglect goes.

The PBO details that “asset investment per person is around 114 per cent higher in metropolitan Victoria compared to regional Victoria”. The Liberals and Nationals guarantee that will change the minute we are returned to government.

* Peter Walsh is the member for Murray Plains

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