Regional Development Victoria

Melina BATH (Eastern Victoria) (12:03): (432) My question is to the Minister for Regional Development. Why hasn’t the government been honest and told regional Victorians how many
positions have been abolished from Regional Development Victoria this year?

Gayle TIERNEY (Western Victoria – Minister for Skills and TAFE, Minister for Regional Development) (12:04): I am in a bit of a quandary as to exactly what is motivating Ms Bath in this
question, because I can assure her that in terms of regional development there has never been such a committed, hardworking team as I have seen right across regional Victoria. Indeed right at this point in time everyone’s entire families basically are affected by what has been happening in regional Victoria. Our regional development teams are actually part of the regional communities in which they live, so they are dealing with immediate problems. But they are also dealing with making sure that our regional Victorian communities are serviced well, that they have got the services they need and that they are gathering information we require in terms of coming up with the best possible place-based solutions to a range of issues that are confronting our regional communities at this particular time. While I am on my feet, can I also indicate my support and my thanks to our frontline people, who have been absolutely working around the clock ensuring that we have got the best protections in our communities –

Melina Bath: On a point of order, President, I would like to ask the minister to actually answer the question I have asked about the number of positions abolished from regional Victoria.
The PRESIDENT: I will bring the minister back to the question.

Gayle TIERNEY: Again, it is a matter of being sensitive to the fact that we have got regional development staff that are working around the clock at the moment, Ms Bath. So I think your timing
on this question is a bit outrageous, because services have not been reduced in regional Victoria. Not only that, we are expecting more from our staff in regional Victoria as we are confronting these horrific situations, whether they be the violent storms that we saw last week or indeed the fires at Pomonal. So again, I think you are being a little bit insensitive, and to be quite frank I am quite disappointed in the question that you have asked today of all days.

Melina BATH (Eastern Victoria) (12:06): Minister, apart from the Tiny Towns Fund, what programs will RDV staff be administering?

The PRESIDENT: I am a bit concerned how that is relevant to the substantive question. Ms Bath, do you mind repeating the supplementary question?

Melina BATH: Apart from the Tiny Towns Fund, what programs will the RDV staff that are remaining in RDV be administering?

The PRESIDENT: I am just a bit concerned that has got a greater scope than the substantive, but I will call the minister to answer as she sees fit.

Gayle TIERNEY (Western Victoria – Minister for Skills and TAFE, Minister for Regional Development) (12:07): I thank Ms Bath for providing me with an opportunity to talk about the work
that our staff in RDV are undertaking. Apart from dealing with the current situation that I dealt with in terms of answering the substantive question, the other major fund of $150 million is the worker accommodation fund, which has captured the serious interest of a range of employers, industries and councils, and that is because, as Ms Bath should know, there is a shortage of accommodation for workers in regional Victoria in particular. Applications are currently open in respect to that, as are applications for the small town fund, and of course there are moneys that are for local councils in terms of the $25 million. All of this is part and parcel of the $2 billion regional investment package that we announced some time ago. (Time expired)

Members interjecting