Bath labels Budget overwhelmingly, underwhelming

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath has labelled the Victorian State Budget underwhelming for Latrobe Valley, with shocking levels of debt and funding cuts.

Regional Victorians will be slugged further with the regional development budget cut by $87.1 million, with $47.8 million cut from agriculture.

Ms Bath said instead of funding local projects, the Andrews Government has chalked up enormous debt and delayed projects – Victoria’s debt is at record levels, more than twice that of New South Wales.

“For locals hoping to see a real plan forward, there’s little joy,” said Ms Bath.

“It’s incredibly disappointing that our community groups who had their facilities destroyed by flood a year ago, have been left with no clarity or certainty for the future.

“Despite being identified as a local priority project – the flood proofing of the Traralgon Recreation Reserve and relocation of community groups to Glenview Park appears to have gone unfunded.

“Eight million dollars was the request to recover and rebuild Traralgon’s community organisations, but there’s no line item in the state budget for the Traralgon Mens Shed, Gippsland Ranges Roller Derby, Traralgon Football Netball Club or Traralgon Boxing Club”.

Ms Bath said immediate mental health and drug and alcohol support is desperately needed in the Valley.

“The mental health and drug emergency department for Latrobe Regional Hospital (LRH) announced today lacks detail and is scheduled for delivery in three years.

“This delay is unacceptable noting The Victorian Royal Commission into Mental Health (established in 2019) found that our state’s system was “crisis-driven”.

“The Royal Commission found Victoria’s mental health system was not designed to support people living with mental illness and now we have prolonged funding delays at a time when locals cannot afford to wait.

“Meanwhile Latrobe City’s drug use and possession continues to spiral out of control, having experienced a 45 percent increase between 2014 and 2021.

“Frustratingly there won’t be anything new in place to address mental health and drug and alcohol issues locally until 2025, which will only perpetuate hardship and suffering for local families.

“Under Labor, locals cannot access the public health care they deserve, when they need it – even the expansion to LRH promised four years ago won’t be delivered until mid 2024 – six years later.

“This Andrews Government is all headline, with no deadline – it’s also a government defined by ongoing waste, mismanagement and spin.

“Victoria needs a state government that will support our local communities and deliver value for people’s hard-earned money – we simply cannot afford another four years of Daniel Andrews.

“Only a change in government in November will put an end to Labor’s debt, waste and mismanagement and make sure all of Victoria thrives.”