Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood has said Premier Daniel Andrews has left many critical Narracan projects off the map in this year’s State Budget, only investing the bare minimum in the region.
In responding to the Victorian Budget Mr Blackwood said Daniel Andrews has misled Gippsland about potential V/Line improvements announcing funding he simply does not have, increased taxes to prop up the Budget bottom line and delivered only a token spend for regional road maintenance.
‘Todays Labor State Budget proves Daniel Andrews announcement this week in Warragul of $435 million to improve the Gippsland rail corridor was nothing more than a political stunt,’ Mr Blackwood said.
‘Not one dollar of State Government funding is attached to the project and is solely reliant on Federal funding which Mr Andrews has been told he is not entitled to,’ Mr Blackwood said.
‘Treasurer Tim Pallas also confirmed today that if the Federal Government do not respond to Labors demand for funding then the upgrades will not proceed at all.
‘This is an insult to long suffering Gippsland V-line users and Daniel Andrews should apologize for misleading them about the project which he said would start immediately.
‘We have real demands for funding in this region in all areas from road and rail to healthcare and local government and games like this will not be forgotten by locals.
’39 new Velocity carriages have been funded in this Budget and I will be advocating strongly for the Gippsland line to receive their fair share.
Much needed increases in road maintenance funding are also missing from the State Budget which is desperately needed to improve local roads across our region.
‘Todays budget contains a real lack of detail about funding to support road maintenance in the Gippsland region at a time when VicRoads are reducing speed limits to ensure motorists safety.
‘Road maintenance is one of the most common concerns raised with me as I travel around the electorate and the failure of Daniel Andrews to provide details about adequate road maintenance means it is taking longer and costing more for locals to travel in safety on our roads.
‘Longwarry and Darnum have received funding to upgrade local bridges which will assist heavy traffic who rely on those access routes but again there is very little detail in the budget papers regarding these announcements.
The Andrews State Budget also neglected to fund the critically important West Gippsland Hospital project, which has been committed to by the Victorian Liberal-National Coalition.
‘In 2016, together with Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, I was very proud to announce that the Victorian Liberal-National Coalition supported the building of a brand new West Gippsland Hospital between Drouin and Warragul.
‘Our region is growing at a rapid rate, and the failure of the Andrews Labor Government to commit to this project shows just how out of touch they are with the needs of local families and our community.
‘The existing West Gippsland Hospital does an exceptional job with the facilities it has but the time has come for a new hospital to be built. The longer Daniel Andrews stays silent about this project the more obvious it becomes that he is not concerned about the future of healthcare in our region.
‘In the 2016-17 Budget $1 million was allocated to start planning for the redevelopment of the West Gippsland Hospital and there is nothing more allocated in this budget which is very disappointing.
‘Either Daniel Andrews supports funding for a new hospital to deliver the critical health needs of our growing population, or he is willing to force residents to drive more than an hour to Melbourne or Latrobe Regional Hospital for treatment, essentially reducing local services by stealth.
There was also no additional funding for local early learning, kindergarten, or primary schools in Narracan in this State Budget.
‘Trafalgar High School will finally receive funding announced last November for a long overdue upgrade promised by the Coalition in 2014.
‘At every level, right from early learning to the final years of secondary education, we need a consistent stream of funding to ensure facilities provide the best teaching and learning environment for our Teachers and Students.
‘Many schools in Narracan are not even receiving basic maintenance funding from this Labor Government including for essential works such as boundary fencing around the school grounds of Moe Albert Street and Thorpdale Primary.
‘With so many young families choosing our region to call home we need to be investing now in these school upgrades before it is too late and educational standards suffer.
One key area that will affect every Narracan household in todays Labor Budget are new and increased taxes which will hit every resident across the region in one form or another.
‘Daniel Andrews promised Victorian’s that taxes would not increase under a Government that he leads but todays budget clearly breaks that promise.
‘Under Daniel Andrews and Labor Victorian families face more costs including increases to land tax, yearly valuations on their properties that will see council rates and fire services levy rise faster than ever before and new taxes on car purchases.
‘At a time when Victorian households are struggling with the cost of power from Daniel Andrews policy to tax Hazelwood out of existence these additional tax increases will only increase pressure on household budgets.
‘Many local residents will rightly be asking where has the $10 billion gone from the sale of the Port of Melbourne because we are not seeing the ten per cent of proceeds from the sale allocated to regional projects as required by legislation.
The first three State Labor Budgets delivered by Daniel Andrews are in stark contrast to the Victorian Coalition.
Over 4 years the Victorian Coalition Government funded key infrastructure projects including the Sand Road Interchange upgrade, Warragul Railway Station precinct upgrade, West Gippsland Hospital Emergency Department upgrade, Lardner Level Crossing upgrade, funding to deliver a new Science Wing at Neerim District Secondary College, a new Early Learning Centre at Drouin Primary School and Education Hub at Yarragon, just to name a few.
‘These were projects promised, funded and delivered, on time and on budget.
‘The Victorian Coalition has a track record of making commitments and delivering them here in Narracan, in stark contrast to Daniel Andrews and Labor who rely on broken promises and spin to hide their mismanagement and waste,’ Mr Blackwood said.