Wimmera misses out in state budget

THE Wimmera has largely missed out in this year’s state budget.

While other regions across the state received money for new projects, Wimmera projects funded came from previous announcements.

The $10-million funding for Horsham College was confirmed in Tuesday's budget, but no other Wimmera school received regeneration money.

The budget information paper also highlights money previously announced, including $3.4 million for the national grains genebank in Horsham and $7 million for Horsham Special School.

The Western Highway has been included in the budget with an unspecified amount promised for pre-construction work for bypasses at Beaufort and Ararat.

The State Government has also promised $42 million to duplicate 18 kilometres of the Western Highway between Beaufort and Buangor.

Victorian Budget 2014: What's in it for regional

The $1.3-billion surplus announced in the budget gives the State Government a significant war chest for further election year announcements.

“If you’re living in regional Victoria, under Denis Napthine and the Liberals, you’re on your own.” - Shadow Regional and Rural Development Minister Jacinta Allan

The State Opposition has slammed the budget with Shadow Regional and Rural Development Minister Jacinta Allan accusing Premier Denis Napthine of trying to con voters.

“Regional hospitals are in crisis, jobs are disappearing, TAFE has been gutted yet Denis Napthine thinks spending 25 times more on infrastructure in Melbourne than the regions is good enough,” she said.

“If you’re living in regional Victoria, under Denis Napthine and the Liberals, you’re on your own.”

There were some bonuses for the region. 

State-wide agriculture received $42.5 million, including $35 million for the Food into Asia Action Plan and $2.3 million to help establish a poppy industry.

The industry is also celebrating $220 million for the Murray Basin Rail Project.

Investment

Victorian Farmers Federation vice-president and Murra Warra farmer David Jochinke said he was pleased to see large investment in infrastructure.

He said the rail upgrade was a huge step forward for Wimmera and Mallee farmers.

“This is the first stage of creating a trans-national railway link from Melbourne to Perth,” he said.

“We can now take produce from anywhere in the country and put it through one of our three ports in Melbourne, Portland and Geelong.

"Freight is where the money is and where the focus should be.”

Nationals candidate for Lowan Emma Kealy said the rail funding showed the Nationals’ influence on government.

“This project will transform the movement of freight and boost the capacity of exports, generating new wealth and jobs for our region,” she said. 

“The Nationals, in partnership with our Liberal colleagues, have delivered funding for this project which has been on the drawing board for decades.” 

Mr Jochinke said the Food into Asia Action Plan was a great initiative.

“We just have to make sure that funding is ongoing,” he said.

“I am also happy the government is investing in the wild dog baiting program as well as committing to the Rural Centre of Farmer Health in Hamilton.”

The State Government has also cut red tape for wildlife control permits and made it easier for farm machinery to cross railways and stock to cross arterial roads.

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