Bendigo will miss out on growth opportunities in post-COVID recovery if the Andrews Labor Government continues looking inwards to Melbourne, while ignoring the potential of regional Victoria.
A spike in migration out of metropolitan areas in the post-COVID era should put regional communities, like Bendigo, in the box seat to secure the flow-on benefits of population growth.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh was in Bendigo today meeting with business groups and service providers that are at the fore-front of COVID recovery.
“The COVID pandemic forced a shift in the way we live and think about work and led many to reconsider what’s most important in life,” Mr Walsh said.
“The ongoing uncertainty of future lockdowns has seen an exodus out of Melbourne, as people look to secure a better lifestyle for themselves and their family.
“But instead of being in the box seat to secure the benefits that come with population growth, we’re falling victim to the Andrews Labor Government’s lack of planning and vision for regional Victoria.
“After seven years in Government, Labor still doesn’t have a plan for decentralisation that sets out a vision for improving liveability and opportunities for our whole state.”
With the 2021/22 State Budget to be handed down at the end of May, Mr Walsh said we must not miss another opportunity to invest in a better future for our regions.
Last year’s Budget committed just $16.4 million to Bendigo-specific projects.
Meanwhile, upgrades to increase speeds on the Bendigo-Echuca line – first announced in early 2017 and originally set to be completed in early 2020 – still haven’t been finished four years later.
“Reliable and fast public transport must be a key plank in any decentralisation vision, but the Andrews Labor Government’s only plan for Bendigo trains is media stunts and delay tactics,” Mr Walsh said.
“As the Labor representative for Bendigo, Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan should be backing her community by delivering regional rail upgrades on time and on budget.
“Ms Allan is well known as the Minister for Excuses and one of her favourites is announcing an ‘expansion’ to projects that her poor management has left years behind schedule.
“Instead of more promises, it’s time for Ms Allan to actually deliver.”