Baillieu-Ryan Short Change Regional Victoria Again
The Baillieu-Ryan Government has short changed regional Victorians by approving changes that will allow 11 Melbourne-based Councils to receive money from the Regional Growth Fund (RGF), Shadow Minister for Rural and Regional Development Jacinta Allan said today.
Ms Allan said the Government promised the Fund would be used to invest in regional Victoria but amendments to the statutory rules by Regional Development Minister Peter Ryan this week meant the funds promised to regional Victoria would now be shared with metropolitan Melbourne.
“This is an absolute slap in the face to regional Victoria by the Baillieu-Ryan Government which promised that the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund – which we now know is only $500 million – would be invested in regional Victoria,” Ms Allan said.
“Mr Ryan has now pitted regional Victorian towns against metropolitan Melbourne suburbs with the inclusion of 11 new local government areas eligible for funding under the Regional Growth Fund Act 2011.”
The new local government areas included are Cardinia Shire, Casey City, Hume City, Knox City, Manningham City, Melton Shire, Mornington Peninsula Shire, Nillumbik Shire, Whittlesea City, Wyndham City, and Yarra Ranges Shire councils. It means more than 1.5 million extra people will share in the Fund.
“It is clear that the Liberal National Government is siphoning off regional Victoria’s money to fund projects in Melbourne,” Ms Allan said.
“This so-called Regional Growth Fund is a shameful fraud and should not used to cover up budget black holes created by the Baillieu-Ryan Government.
“While it’s important projects in Melbourne’s suburbs are supported, Mr Ryan needs to explain to regional Victorians why the dedicated regional fund is now being stretched even further into metropolitan Melbourne suburbs.
“This means important projects for regional Victorian communities will miss out.
“Seventy per cent of the Fund has already been spent on promises made during the 2010 campaign, leaving just $152 million to be spent during the next four years.
“Core services such as education and health, which should be funded out of everyday Government business, are eligible under the Fund.
“Far from delivering a boost to regional communities, the Baillieu-Ryan plan will actually cut spending to regional Victorians by $275 million a year or $1.1 billion over four years.”