WIMMERA leaders want to see money for road upgrades, infrastructure, and the Wimmera Cancer Centre in today’s state budget.
See what they had to say as Treasurer Tim Pallas prepares to announce the budget on Wednesday afternoon.
Wimmera Development Association executive director Ralph Kenyon
“Continuing the Western Highway duplication to Stawell and further west, and mobile blackspot coverage are big ones,” he said.
“Rail freight upgrades, C-class road funding, passenger rail, upgrades to Longerenong College’s agribusiness centre, and money for Wimmera Cancer Centre is also vital.
“Infrastructure is what helps put the cement around the activities that happen in our communities.”
Member for Lowan Emma Kealy
“The cancer centre is one of the biggest Wimmera projects and will provide better health outcomes for so many people,” she said.
“We saw a 17 per cent cut in the roads asset management budget last year. Roads is by far the biggest issue I get asked about.
“We’ve been looking for money for police stations and school upgrades, and health care groups are also looking for funding for smaller projects to redevelop their premises.”
Rupanyup farmer and Grain Producers Australia chairman Andrew Weidemann
“Roads are such a major component of agriculture. The highway duplication is an important project and we’d like to see a long-term commitment there,” he said.
“Infrastructure is also important to create job opportunities, and spending in that sector has flow-on benefits.
“Continuing support for Wimmera businesses is also important to minimise the job impacts of the dry period.
“Yes it's good for the farming sector to be able to access low-interest loans and such, but other small businesses seem to be overlooked for support, and the services they provide are ones that we need to be maintained.”
Wimmera Health Care Group chief executive Chris Scott
“The centre is a very important project for the whole of the Wimmera Southern-Mallee area due to poor cancer survival rates, difficulties in gaining access to treatment facilities close to home, and the growing prevalence of cancer and other chronic diseases,” he said.
“Our group is the major sub-regional referral centre for acute care, and as demand grows it is essential we continue to grow our services and facilities to meet those needs.
“I welcome the opportunity to work with the government to support and deliver quality health care to the region in collaboration with our health services.”
Longerenong College campus head John Goldsmith
“The college’s agribusiness centre is our priority project and we have been lobbying politicians about it,” he said.
“We have had no indication though about whether the money will be in the budget, so we just have to wait and see.”
Ms Kealy said the agribusiness centre needed about $950,000 to completely refurbish it.
“It is where the auditorium is and things need to be replaced – there are broken chairs and other parts of the building that are damaged,” she said.