Opinion piece: 1 year of Labor

Friday 27 November 2015

You might have seen or heard me refer to the state government as the ‘Melbourne Labor Government’ at some point this year.

It might seem flippant, but it’s a well-deserved title.

As we reach the 12 month anniversary of Daniel Andrews’ government, the list of examples of it prioritising the city over the country is lengthy.

Country Victorians just aren’t receiving their fair share.

The recent drought package was certainly a start, however it lacked key business support for farms and small businesses such as discounts to municipal rates and fixed water charges.

The government has completely axed the Regional Growth Fund, wild dog bounty and Country Roads and Bridges fund.

It slashed funding to agriculture output (12 per cent), trade (61.5 per cent) and regional development (24 per cent) in its first budget.

The budget also provided regional Victoria with just 2.9 per cent of major infrastructure funding and 1.7 per cent of capital health funding.

Meanwhile, regional Victoria has lost around 10,000 full-time jobs despite Daniel Andrews’ promise to create 100,000 in two years, and TAFE enrolments have plummeted despite the so-called TAFE rescue package.

Yet even with the significant cuts to regional funds and programs, the Melbourne Labor Government has still managed to plunge the state budget into deficit within a year.

It wasted almost $1 billion to not build the East West Link in Melbourne and allowed the public service wages bill to reach its highest in six years.

I do admit there have been times this year where it appeared the Melbourne Labor Government was finally giving something back to the regions. But as soon as you scratched the surface, it was revealed as a nothing more than empty rhetoric.

Take the Stronger Country Bridges Program as an example. It was touted as a big win for country Victorians, but quickly turned out to be a total farce.

It was revealed 10 of the 48 bridges earmarked for upgrade are actually located within 4 kilometres of Daniel Andrews’ electorate of Mulgrave. I’m not sure you’d find one person in this state who’d consider the metropolitan suburb of Mulgrave to be the “country”.

Then you have the long-awaited Regional Statement as another example. Despite taking a year to be developed, it turned out to be nothing more than a summary of projects already underway – with no new money or infrastructure projects.

So given this is the government’s track record after just 12 months in office, I believe the title of ‘Melbourne Labor Government’ is more than appropriate.

The Liberal-Nationals Coalition will not stop fighting for a fair share for country Victorians and reminding Daniel Andrews that this state in fact doesn’t end at the tram tracks.

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