Budget 2019/20 delivers for Regional Victoria as Mallee Partnership outlines strategic focus28/05/2019
The Victorian Government’s 2019/ 20 Budget supports the Mallee region, as part of its $2.6 billion Delivering for Regional and Rural Victoria program.
Mallee Regional Partnership Chair Win Scott today welcomed the Budget, which provides a whole of government focus on delivering for rural and regional Victorians, with improvements across the state to public transport, country roads, tourism infrastructure and TAFE facilities, and provides health facility upgrades while supporting jobs. The Budget provides further tax relief for rural and regional businesses, with the regional payroll tax rate to be reduced to 25 per cent of the metropolitan rate by 2022-23.
Across the state, the Budget includes more than $136 million for an additional 500,000 specialist medical appointments for rural and regional Victorians, $357 million for regional road maintenance, and considerable support for farmers. In Mallee specifically, there is a commitment that Buloke will be among the first six rural and regional local government areas to receive the roll out of universal three-year-old kinder next year, while there is also funding for investment planning for the Mildura Sports and Community Precinct.
“There are several important investments in the Budget which are good news for the Mallee region,” explains Ms Scott, but she adds that the Regional Partnership is about much more than securing funding at Budget time.
She explains that over the past year, the Partnership has worked with the Department of Transport to identify and prioritise roads for investment, as well as advocating for improved public transport connectivity and flexible transport solutions, including engaging with community forums and local government to identify priorities for the region. It has also brought together key stakeholders to progress development of Mallee migration concierge and settlement packages and worked with the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR) on a Mallee digital plan.
In addition, Partnership priorities funded in previous Victorian Budgets, for example, $1.7 million last year for the Mallee Regional Innovation Centre, are now a reality. The new research centre – which combines the research capabilities of the University of Melbourne and La Trobe University, with the knowledge of regional partners including SuniTAFE, was officially opened earlier this month, with research to focus on the key sectors of renewables, technology, agriculture, water management and sustainability. Also the Cross Border Commissioner, whose office was also funded in last year’s Budget, is now active in regional communities.
Ms Scott says the Partnership - one of nine across the state - is now in its third year and is evolving. Last week the Partnership published its Outcomes Roadmap, which outlines its key, long-term strategic areas of focus and where it is looking to make a real difference.“This year, as part of the natural evolution of our Partnership, rather than running a large Assembly, we are in the process of identifying a few key issues where we will run smaller, targeted meetings,” she explains. “At these forums, the Partnership will engage with Government, the community and stakeholders in a more decisive, focused and strategic way in order to make a substantial difference in a specific area. The issues we address will mirror the outcomes we are striving to achieve, and we’ll let the community know about these areas of focus shortly via our Facebook page.”