The 2017/18 Victorian Budget delivered by the Labor Government includes a raft of initiatives aimed at regional areas but little in the way of specific funding for the Ovens Valley.
Among a $1.1 billion spend on education and schools is funding to “modernise, upgrade and regenerate” a lengthy list of regional primary and secondary schools including Tungamah Primary School.
The breakdown of funding for each school is yet to be revealed with $64.1 million earmarked to be shared between 59 schools.
Another $84.1 million will be invested in improving principal and teacher capability and $84.3 million to upgrade digital technology in classrooms.
Other regional initiatives include $1.12 billion in public transport upgrades for rail and bus services; $530.6 million to maintain and upgrade regional roads and bridges; $50 million to double the First Home Owner Grant to $20,000 for new homes in regional areas and a payroll tax cut of 25 percent for businesses operating substantially in regional Victoria, benefitting around 4000 businesses.
In recognition of the impact of illicit drugs in regional Victoria, $9.7 million will be provided to acquire land in the Gippsland, Hume and Barwon regions to build new residential drug rehabilitation facilities.
Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy described the budget as “bleak” for his electorate.
He said residents were being taxed more but getting less in the 2017/18 state budget.
“The Labor Government spruiked a promise now, deliver later, budget that will do nothing to assist regional Victorians,” Mr McCurdy said.
“While Labor is taxing Ovens Valley residents more, we’re getting less.”
Mr McCurdy said in 2017-18, Labor had cut $87 million from schools funding across rural and regional Victoria and he was bitterly disappointed the budget failed to invest in desperately needed new rolling stock for the north-east rail line.
“The Labor Government says it cares about north-east rail passengers but when it comes to the crunch of actually providing the new rolling stock that’s needed they give nothing,” Mr McCurdy said.
“Labor has proudly announced a regional rail revival that doesn’t include anything for north-east Victoria and is actually completely unfunded.
“It is nothing more than a wish list, totally reliant on the Federal Government. That’s simply appalling.”
Mr McCurdy said a 25 percent payroll tax cut for regional businesses would do little to assist local businesses who were reeling from massive increases in gas and electricity prices, due to the actions of the Labor Government.
He also said an increase in the stamp duty on new cars would encourage buyers to cross the border to NSW to shop around for a vehicle.
“This is a budget that fails to understand the needs of regional Victorians and will no doubt leave Ovens Valley residents feeling cold.”