Regionalisation plan will help West Gippsland reach full potential

West Gippsland will miss out on growth opportunities in post-COVID recovery if the Andrews Labor Government continues looking inwards to Melbourne, while ignoring the potential of regional Victoria.

A spike in migration out of metropolitan areas in the post-COVID era should put regional communities, like Warragul, Drouin and our satellite towns in the box seat to secure the flow-on benefits of population growth.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath is calling for a new way forward that plans for regional population growth.

“The COVID pandemic forced a shift in the way we live and think about work and led many to reconsider what’s most important in life,” Ms Bath said.

“The ongoing uncertainty of future lockdowns has seen a continued exodus out of Melbourne, as people look to secure a better lifestyle for themselves and their family.

“A look in any local real estate agents window, shows a plethora of sold stickers with very few homes available for sale.

“But instead of being in the box seat to secure the benefits that come with population growth, we’re falling victim to the Andrews Labor Government’s lack of planning and vision for regional Victoria.

“After seven years in Government, Labor still doesn’t have a plan for regional Victoria that sets out a vision for improving liveability and opportunities for our whole state.”

With the 2021/22 State Budget to be handed down at the end of May, Ms Bath said Gippsland must not miss another opportunity to invest in a better future for our regions.

“Our regional roads network has been so poorly neglected that the RACV is now calling for speed limits to be lowered in country Victoria as safety has become so compromised.

“The Andrews Government continues to ignore West Gippsland as one of the fastest growing regional communities in Victoria, overlooking needed vital infrastructure projects.

“Items that need funding include a new fit for purpose hospital in West Gippsland, Drouin town centre bypass, duplication of Princes Way between Warragul and Drouin and tourism infrastructure in Noojee, Walhalla and the mountain rivers region.

“Meanwhile, the Andrews Government’s answer to failing to meet VLine punctuality targets has been to slow down our rail service and increase the travel time to Melbourne.

“Reliable and fast public transport must be a key plank in any regionalisation vision, but the Andrews Labor Government’s only plan for West Gippsland is to leave the community behind.”

Ms Bath said she will be going over the upcoming state budget to see what’s in it for West Gippsland.

“The Andrews Government must get on with delivering needed projects in regional communities.

“Instead of more empty promises and spin, it’s time for the Andrews Labor Government to deliver local projects that will make a real difference to people in West Gippsland.”