Tuesday 28th May 2019
Regional Development Minister Jaclyn Symes proclaims she’s “very proud” of Labor’s latest State Budget, despite it having no plan and no money for Regional Victoria.
Ms Symes told State Parliament today she’s “very proud of the Budget we delivered yesterday for Regional Victoria”, claiming it includes $2.6 billion for Regional Victoria.
But Shadow Minister for Regional Victoria and Decentralisation Peter Walsh said it was a sneaky attempt from Labor to bundle up a list of spending from other departments.
“If Labor truly cared about “delivering for all Victorians” it wouldn’t have cut the Regional Growth Fund or slashed RDV’s base funding,” Mr Walsh said.
“Is the Minister ‘proud’ of cutting the Regional Growth Fund, which delivered a $1 billion boost to country communities and encouraged businesses – and jobs – to relocate out of Melbourne?
“Is she proud of ripping $100 million out of RDV, which will cause job losses in regional areas?
“And is the Minister proud that Labor’s Budget robs country communities to prop up billions of dollars of cost blowouts on metro projects?
“What about Labor’s failure to fund desperately-needed new long-haul trains for the Warrnambool, Swan Hill, North East and Bairnsdale lines?
“Daniel Andrews likes to talk up Labor’s infrastructure spend, but he’s spending less than 4 per cent of the total road and rail budget in regional Victoria.”
The RGF was dedicated to supporting regional initiatives and projects, including supporting businesses to relocate to Regional Victoria from Melbourne and helping community groups and councils improve local assets.
“Labor’s decision to axe this successful program is nothing to be proud of,” Mr Walsh said.
Ms Symes was also forced into an embarrassing backflip today, after Monday’s Budget axed funding for Victoria’s Regional Community Leadership Programs.
Less than 24 hours later, and after pressure from VRCLPs, the Minister now says funding has been extended for a further 12 months.
Mr Walsh said these programs were important to helping develop leaders in regional communities and must be given certainty.