The Nationals leader and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, says Cohuna’s older residents and their families will be relieved to hear the town’s aged care facilities will get a boost.
But Mr Walsh says the imploding Andrews Labor government’s Budget released Tuesday has condemned Cohuna’s urgent bid for childcare services to the wilderness.
He says the Budget “makes it pretty clear Victoria is broke, and life is only going to get harder under Labor which means as an immediate result Victorians in general – and regional Victorians in particular – are being punished for Labor’s economic incompetence”.
“Like many of our smaller regional towns, Cohuna has been overlooked by successive Labor governments and even now there is confirmation money will finally be spent there on aged care, we still don’t know how much, or when,” Mr Walsh says.
“A total of just $162.2 million has been made available to improve aged care services in regional and rural Victoria,” he says.
“That’s a lot of country and a lot of people, and once you start cutting up the pie, it is amazing how far $162.2 million won’t go. In fact, even the number could be a concern as it is not a committed total, it is simply an ‘estimated’ spend.”
Mr Walsh says while all money will be welcomed, it won’t soften the blow for the childcare campaign that has just been officially scratched from the race.
He says not only will that “incredibly short sighted” decision has a serious negative impact on local families, it will almost certainly be more damaging for the local economy.
“Time and again I have been approached by local businesses desperate to attract people to the town, but without the support of childcare most young families simply won’t make the move,” Mr Walsh explains.
“If both parents work and there is no childcare they are trapped because they may have moved from Melbourne or Sydney and will have no local family support or backup with their young children,” he says.
“Cohuna is a town with enormous potential, with growth industries, the surrounding agricultural industries and an enviable lifestyle and strong-knit community so it is so sad this failure of a government could not see its way clear to take some taxpayer dollars and return more of them here.”