The Nationals leader and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, says rural and regional Victorians have been robbed in this week’s Labor State Budget.
Mr Walsh says the Andrews Labor Government’s latest budget sends a clear message this is a government that’s out of money and raiding the pockets of country families, farmers and small business owners to cover its botched economy.
He said nearly $285 million has been slashed from regional development – and a further $61.3 million butchered from the agriculture budget.
“Cuts to biosecurity, no new money to fix our crumbling regional roads and millions of dollars plundered from regional public transport to pay for trains in Melbourne is all we got from this completely metro-centric budget,” Mr Walsh added.
“In a blow to our farmers and farm businesses; that are crying out for new export opportunities to fill the void left by trade tensions with China, the Labor Government has shaved 63 per cent from Victoria’s trade programs,” he said.
Mr Walsh also listed the following blows delivered to regional Victoria by the 2021-22 budget:
- Failed to provide the final $5 million for planning on the Murray Basin Rail Project.
- Cut $66.7 million from trade and global engagement.
- More than halved efforts to develop new strategies to maintain and/or grow export opportunities.
- Failed to invest a single cent in new residential rehabilitation beds in rural and regional communities.
- Ignored key infrastructure projects, like the Shepparton bypass, while others like the Echuca Bridge and Kilmore Bypass suffer huge cost blowouts.
- Cut $2.54 million from community grants that support the fight against Queensland fruit fly.
- Pushed up revenue collected under the Fire Services Property Levy by $80 million in the next two years.
- Overlooked priority upgrades to country schools and hospitals.
- Halted the rollout of Orange Door services which provide crucial support against domestic violence for families in crisis.
- Scrapped rural outreach workers who provide mental health support to people in the Wimmera.
“These cuts come as Labor’s cost blowouts on major projects swell to $22.3 billion, including $10.79 billion on Melbourne’s North East Link and $3.43 billion on the Metro Tunnel,” Mr Walsh said.
“Labor is taxing regional Victorians more, but giving us less,” he said.
“Victorian families and small businesses are shouldering the burden of Labor’s waste and mismanagement of major infrastructure projects in Melbourne.
“And while record numbers of people are moving out of our capital cities and into the regions, Labor’s lack of vision for regional Victoria risks us missing out on reaching our full potential.”