Reinstatement of country roads funding, the upgrade of the Stratford Rail Bridge and completion of Bairnsdale Secondary College are among the local expectations for next week’s State Budget.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said while there are many local projects suitable for funding, the rail bridge, secondary college and reinstatement of roads funding were some of the bigger projects that require attention.
“Like almost all of rural and regional Victoria, the Gippsland East electorate has missed out in the Government’s two previous budgets and these were projects that had been lobbied for strongly by the community,” Mr Bull said.
“I would hope the Stratford Rail Bridge, at least, will be announced, considering planning and full costing was completed in 2015. I have heard that it may be included, but in saying that, I heard the same last year and there was no allocation,” he said.
“Having written to the Minister about it, and with the community having lobbied strongly for it over the past two years, I am hopeful of an announcement as it is an important project for our region.”
Mr Bull said Labor must also reinstate the Country Roads and Bridges Program and roads maintenance funding to the levels provided under the former Coalition Government.
“These cuts have been costly. On coming to government at the end of 2014, Labor scrapped the Country Roads and Bridges Program, which provided $160 million to local councils to improve their roads and I know both East Gippsland and Wellington Shire councils have been impacted by this on the works they have been able to deliver,” he said.
“There were also cuts to the Road Asset Management Budget and the Road Operations and Network Improvements Budget – a total combined amount of $307m in the past two years.
“It is ironic that the Government is putting a lot of money into its Towards Zero campaign to lower the road toll but at the same time has cut roads funding full stop. This is an anomaly that needs to be rectified in next week’s Budget.
“I would hope our local Labor Upper House Member, Harriet Shing, is calling on her government to reinstate funding in these areas after stating our roads were in a ‘parlous state’ in Parliament last year.
“The Bairnsdale Secondary College redevelopment is another that it would be nice to have included, but given the Minister still hasn’t visited the school in the past two and half years despite repeated invitations from both the school council and myself, it would be a pleasant surprise.
“The former Coalition Government funded stage one and committed to stage two pre-election in 2014, but we are still yet to hear anything from the Government on this.
“Last year the Government boasted about its budget surplus, so I hope a reasonable level funding will come the way of rural and regional Victoria, including East Gippsland, because the regions have missed out state-wide in the last couple,” Mr Bull said.
The Budget will be announced next Tuesday, May 2.
Caption: Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, is hoping for the reinstatement of country roads funding in this year’s State Budget, along with the upgrade of upgrade of the Stratford Rail Bridge and completion of Bairnsdale Secondary College.
Wednesday, May 26