Wimmera has to wait and see on election policies: Andrews

STATE Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews has signalled Labor will wait until later in the year before announcing policies for rural and regional Victoria.

The Victorian Farmers Federation announced its election year wish-list on January 15, with $250 million for regional rail freight lines a priority.

But Mr Andrews in the Wimmera on Wednesday said he was not going to be drawn on whether Labor would commit anything to the proposed upgrade project.

" The VFF and others are obviously very good at laying out a case for additional investment and we'd always like to see further investment, but there's not unlimited amounts of money," he said.

Mr Andrews criticised the government's performance in regional Victoria, pointing to cuts to TAFE and the Department of Environment and Primary Industries offices as areas which hurt the most.

"I grew up in country Victoria and I love getting out and I pride myself on getting out to the regions as often as I can and I'll tell you what in 41 years I've never seen a country community that was better off because of a government cutback ," he said.

He rejected claims Labor had forgotten country Victoria and flagged policy announcements in coming months.

"I wouldn't say that we've only made announcements for one part of the state, but we'll have more to say about jobs and about TAFE which is a big issue for regional Victoria," he said. "Transport is obviously a big issue as well and health services and being able to access those."

Labor's transport policy promises $1 billion over eight years for rural and regional roads. "What we know, what I think small business owners know, what regional people and regional communities know is that spending on roads is up one year and down the next; that's how you finish up with a road network that's got potholes you can almost get lost in," he said.

Roads Minister Terry Mulder said Labor's regional transport commitments were dwarfed by government spending.

"Labor's pledge only amounts to a token $125 million a year," he said. "In contrast with Labor, the Coalition is spending real money on real roads, such as $466 million this year for road repairs and rehabilitation, the $505-million Western Highway duplication, the $38-million Ballarat Western Link Road and the $28-million Transport Solutions program for freight operators.

"The Coalition will progressively outline its transport commitments in good time before the 2014 state election."

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