Kealy far from impressed with budget
Member for Lowan Emma Kealy has labelled the State Budget as a raw deal for many western Victorian communities.
Ms Kealy said she was disappointed in the budget, claiming the Labor government had failed to provide money to important projects involving hospitals, police stations, sporting facilities, Country Fire Authority and State Emergency Service.
She added that the government’s funding allocation for regional schools was ‘a pittance’.
“Warracknabeal school communities have been left stunned that Labor failed to fund stage two of the Warracknabeal Education Precinct project,” she said.
“Labor previously funded only part of a special development school build and part of the secondary college build.
“Now the schools have been left with the impossible decision of either working over split campuses when they simply do not have enough staff, or just stay put and leave brand new part-built schools empty.”
Ms Kealy said Bainbridge College in Hamilton had also missed out on ‘much-needed’ money for redevelopment.
“Labor has really stuffed this up. Principals, educators and students will have to work with Labor’s mess of half built schools,” she said.
The budget includes money for Stawell, Dimboola and Kaniva school development.
Ms Kealy claimed Lowan sporting clubs had also missed out on appropriate support.
“Western Victoria has a strong and proud sporting culture, but Labor has failed to invest in projects that would have had a wide benefit to our region,” she said.
“It’s a testament to the work of Cr Tom Houlihan and the Harrow community that they finally received funding for re- development of their recreation reserve, an investment that is long overdue.”
“Now the schools have been left with the impossible decision of either working over split campuses when they simply do not have enough staff, or just stay put and leave brand new part-built schools empty” – Emma Kealy
Ms Kealy also added the budget confirmed that under Premier Daniel Andrews there would be no work forthcoming to return rail services to Horsham and Hamilton.
“It’s extremely disappointing Labor failed to match The Nationals’ commitment to undertake the vital $4-million business case to extend V-line train services to Horsham and Hamilton,” she said.
“The budget also failed to provide any commitment to the Hamilton-horsham coach route, which would provide an essential north-south connection for our region.
“Labor’s budget pours $25-billion into metro cost blowouts, but leaves local families and businesses no better off meeting the pressures of a growing cost of living.”
Ms Kealy added she believed the government was also distancing itself from the idea of a Networked Grains Centre of Excellence in the region, which emerged from the government’s regional partnership process.
“Despite Labor previously funding a business case in the last budget for a Networked Grains Centre of Excellence, a project raised through the Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership, this project has now dropped off Labor’s radar,” she said.
“What’s the point of funding a business case if you have no intention of following through with support to make it a reality?”
Ms Kealy said the budget also reflected Labor’s ‘disrespect for CFA volunteers’.
“There has been no funding allocated locally for the CFA or SES,” she said.
“Mr Andrews has fought tooth-and-nail to tear our CFA apart. Unlike Labor, The Nationals will fight to protect those who protect us.”
Ms Kealy said she was particularly concerned about an apparent lack of government knowledge of regional Victoria.
“Mr Andrews announced a Grampians Cycling Plan and said it was in the Mallee,” she said.
“Causing further confusion, the Grampians Region Cycling and Trails Infrastructure, Business and Master Plan was in fact completed in June last year.
“Taxpayer money would have been better spent on laying tracks rather than redoing an already completed plan.”