The Andrews Labor Government look set to axe Victoria’s dedicated Regional Development fund.
Established by the previous Liberal Nationals government, the successful fund has invested $1 billion over eight year into regional Victorian communities.
Funding for the program expires on June 30 this year but the new Regional Development Minister Jaclyn Symes clammed up about the program’s future when questioned by The Nationals Member Eastern Victorian Region, Melina Bath in Parliament today.
Ms Bath said Daniel Andrews must reconsider his plans to axe a successful program that has just delivered a $1 billion boost to our regional communities.
“The Nationals set up the Regional Growth Fund as a priority program when we were in government and it has gone on to support local jobs, businesses, councils, community improvements and more,” said Ms Bath.
“Before the 2018 Election, The Nationals pledged a fresh $1 billion injection for the program if we were elected to government, but Labor failed to commit.
“Minister Jaclyn Symes had the chance to allay fears but instead she’s set alarm bells ringing across rural and regional communities with her weasel words.
“Daniel Andrews must change his mind before it is too late and ensure we have a dedicated fund for regional development initiatives in the upcoming State Budget.”
The fund was established as the Regional Growth Fund by the Liberal Nationals Government in 2011 and was set up to invest $1 billion into Regional Victoria over eight years.
Labor renamed it the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund after 2015 but followed the Liberal Nationals’ lead and continued to invest the program’s funds into projects that supported rural and regional economies.
Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Regional Victoria and Decentralisation Peter Walsh said The Nationals will keep the pressure on the Andrews Government to continue the program.
“We want a better deal for our communities, and that includes a dedicated Regional Development fund that will help us continue to drive investment in our communities and decentralise the state,” Mr Walsh said.
“It’s not good enough for Labor to pour billions of dollars into Melbourne while ripping valued funding away from regional communities that are working hard to develop and diversify.”