Rural and regional communities will play second fiddle to big ticket projects under an Andrews Government decision to focus regional funds “towards larger projects”.
This year’s State Budget saw the dedicated Regional Growth Fund axed and Regional Development Victoria’s (RDV) budget slashed by $130 million.
At the same time, the Andrews Government will halve the number of projects it plans to support in Regional Victoria.
Jobs, Precincts and Regions department secretary Simon Phemister told Parliament’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) this week it was due to “a shift in focus towards larger projects with greater impact across the regions”.
Regional Development Minister Jaclyn Symes struggled to explain the impact of the cuts in her PAEC appearance.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Regional Victoria and Decentralisation Peter Walsh
The Minister was forced to defer to the department secretary for confirmation there would be no jobs lost as a result of the Andrews Government’s $130 million cut to RDV.
Country Victorians have learnt from experience that when the Andrews Government says they’re taking a more ‘targeted’ approach it means cuts.
It also means less funding for regional communities beyond Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong.
The Minister needs to come clean and admit her ‘targeted’ approach is an attempt to cover up the huge budget cuts.
Small investments can make a big difference to the amenity and liveability of our rural and regional communities and it is a real shame that Labor can’t see that.
And it’s insulting that while Daniel Andrews drains funds from Victoria’s regional budget, he still manages to find billions to plug his metro project cost blowouts.
The Minister says there will be no regional job losses as a result of Labor’s cuts but it’s hard to see how that can be the case when RDV’s budget has been slashed so severely.