Bath takes aim at regional funding cuts in state parliament

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath has called on Labor to provide answers on the scrapping of the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund in State Parliament this week.

During question time Ms Bath asked the Minister for Regional Development how regional infrastructure and programs will be funded now Labor has taken $1 billion dollars from regional Victorian communities.

Ms Bath said she was appalled at the Minister’s response when she stated she was ‘very proud’ of Labor’s state budget.

“This budget fails to fund critical projects and inflicts devastating cuts on regional people, it is nothing to be proud about,” said Ms Bath.

“If Labor was ‘Delivering for all Victorian’s’ the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) would not have been cut and Regional Development Victoria’s (RDV) funding would not have been significantly reduced”, said Ms Bath.

“Removing the RDF and cutting RDV’s funding will impact country communities, ultimately resulting in job losses across regional Victoria.

In further questioning Ms Bath forced the Minister into an embarrassing backflip when questioned why funding for Victoria’s Regional Community Leadership Programs was also cut.

Ms Bath said less than 24 hours after budget release, the Minister hastily gave the program a 12 month reprieve.

“The Victorian Regional Community Leadership Program had requested $11 million over four years, equating to $250,000 annually for each regional leadership program to remain operational,” said Ms Bath.

“Our regional community leadership programs are an important platform in developing and connecting emerging leaders with business, community, government, environment and local culture.”

The Gippsland Community Leadership Program has an alumni of 576 which includes graduates including Mr Ken Lay, former Chief Commissioner of Police and The Nationals Senator for Victoria, Federal Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie.

Ms Bath said she will be calling on the government to provide funding for the Victorian Regional Community Leadership Program beyond the next 12 months.

“This Victorian budget has not delivered for regional Victoria and I am angered by Labor’s continual contempt for our Gippsland community.

“I will continue to advocate for Gippsland, holding the Andrews Labor Government to account on behalf of my constituents.