State Budget more miss than hit for Latrobe and Baw Baw residents

Gippslanders have been ignored by Labor’s Victorian State Budget with many needed projects ignored or pushed well into the future.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath said frustrating Daniel Andrews has continued his city centric ways, shunning important local projects.

“Much of the funding announced today is simply a renouncement of previously committed projects,” said Ms Bath.

“Labor has provided nothing new for Gippslanders and has failed to address the need for jobs and investment in our region.

“Labor’s budget seriously lacked accountability and transparency with the Andrews Government not even publishing the state capital program budget paper this year.

“Gippsland needs infrastructure projects to be built now not years down the track – this state budget has missed the mark.”

Ms Bath said disappointingly many important infrastructure projects the community have been seeking were overlooked.

“Traralgon residents will be extremely disappointed to learn that after promising to budget for the Bank Street, Princes Highway upgrade in 2017 and promising to deliver it in mid 2019, Labor has again failed to fund its upgrade,” said Ms Bath.

“Disappointingly the health needs of the West Gippsland community have also continued to be disregarded by Labor with no funding provided to build a new hospital in West Gippsland despite it being the fastest growing regional community in Victoria.

“The fate of the Latrobe Valley Authority remains in question, no longer a standalone entity in the budget.  Its status continues to be downgraded by Labor with no dedicated funding.

“Additionally, Labor’s 2018 election commitments for the region continue to be missing in action, including 500 jobs with SEA Electric, more reliability on the Gippsland rail line, 800 new car parks in Latrobe Valley, Free WiFi in Latrobe Valley and a new Food Hub.

“On a more positive note, Hazelwood North Primary School has finally been allocated funding to upgrade the school which has been crumbling around students’ and teachers’ ears for years now.

“After advocating for Hazelwood North Primary School alongside parents in August 2018, it has taken a further two years for Labor to prioritise the needs of the students and allocate funds to address its serious structural issues.”

Ms Bath said the Andrews Labor Government needs to focus less on borrowing big for long-off infrastructure projects in Melbourne to projects that will make a difference now, for Gippsland and all of our state.

“The coronavirus pandemic has shown that The Nationals’ commitment to build capacity in our regional communities through supporting decentralisation is what’s needed to create jobs and build a future for all Victorians, not just for those living in Melbourne.

“Daniel Andrews thinks he can throw other people’s money around to make up for the devastation caused by his second wave lockdowns. Victorians need jobs today, small businesses need the burden of taxes and charges to be lifted, but neither have been delivered in this budget.”