Member for Narracan said today’s Victorian State Budget delivered important investment for mental health and education. However you have to ask at what cost. Massive increases in debt to underpin continued mismanagement of major projects and higher taxes on business that will jeopardise the COVID recovery are a real concern.
Mr Blackwood said one of the major positives was the allocation of funding to modernise and grow Drouin Primary School to meet a booming population.
“It is great to see Drouin Primary School receive the funding they deserve to meet student growth with $22.097 million being provided in the Budget,” Mr Blackwood said.
“The Victorian Government should be prioritising this project though, and a 2024-25 expected delivery date is still a long way off for this growing community.
“The Andrews Labor Government has a terrible record of delivering projects on time, and it is critical this project meets that window for delivery to ensure Drouin students can learn in Drouin.
Mr Blackwood said while the education funding would be welcomed locally in Drouin, the failure to deliver real funding to fix traffic congestion in the CBD indicates that Labor have acknowledged the pressure of population growth on education but ignored the pressure on traffic movement.
“The release from the Victorian Government states that 225 new places will be created as part of this project, but that will only add to traffic issues within the business district that are already reaching critical levels.
“Funding must be allocated by the Victorian Government that will address all of the pressure points created by population growth.
“These communities cannot be expected to continue to grow at such a rate without the appropriate infrastructure to support them, particularly in education, transport and health.
The Victorian State Budget also confirms massive blowouts in cost for the public sector and major projects including;
Mr Blackwood said that funding support for COVID recovery is extremely important, Victorians want that money well spent and not wasted. Major project cost blow outs and mismanagement were an insult to hard working Victorians.
“There is no hiding now for the Andrews Labor Government, spending is up, taxes are up, the cost of living in Victoria is up and the cost of doing business here is higher than ever.
“We know creating jobs is vital for recovery, but we cannot have a Government that uses COVID-19 as a cover for poor decisions, bad contracts and a failure to manage major projects.
“We already knew the Victorian State Budget was in crisis in the final quarter of 2019, months before COVID-19 hit our shores.
“We should be getting value for money from our major projects, and regional Victoria should be part of that.
“Projects in West Gippsland have been missed or left off the table by the Andrews Labor Government, including a new West Gippsland Hospital which would have created jobs in design, construction, education and patient services.
“Major road upgrades including the Drouin CBD bypass, Warragul intersection upgrades and funding for Freeway sound barriers are missing in this State Budget.
“Increased investment for schools in our small regional towns is also missing as they experience an influx of students and our teachers battle with students presenting with disability or difficult behaviours.
“These are all areas that needed funding, but ignored by the Andrews Labor Government who have instead favoured major projects within the heart of the metropolitan region.
Mr Blackwood has also questioned expenditure on regional rail services, with $613m allocated to improve frequency and reliability.
“The delivery of $613m to secure the reliability of regional rail services will be greeted with scepticism by long suffering Gippsland commuters.
“We know the Gippsland lines greatest challenge is VLine trains taking second place to metro trains between Pakenham and Melbourne.
“It is unclear whether this money is just a re-announcement of funding provided by the Federal Government three years ago that has delivered the new Avon River Rail Bridge and is earmarked for the duplication of the line between Bunyip and Longwarry”, said Mr Blackwood.
Gary Blackwood MP
State Member for Narracan
3/24 Mason Street
Ph: 5623 1960
Fax: 5623 4506
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