Mixed bag in State Budget
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Mixed bag in State Budget

Today’s State Budget produced mixed results for local communities, according to Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull.

“It was disappointing the Stratford Rail Bridge and the Bairnsdale Secondary College missed out and that road maintenance funding remains lower than it was two years ago when the Liberal-Nationals Coalition left office, but it was pleasing funding for some projects commenced under the Coalition continued.

“One of the most important of these was the Gippsland Lakes Environment Fund, which I have raised in Parliament many times, due to the uncertainty over its future.

“While not specifically mentioned in the papers, I was able to confirm in a later discussion with the Minister that $10 million has been provided over the next four years. This continues the Coalition’s funding level and is a win for community members who have advocated strongly.

“Overtaking lanes will be constructed on the Princes Highway between Orbost and the NSW border, continuing on the work of the previous government that funded three overtaking lanes between Nowa Nowa and Orbost. The Great Alpine Road has also been earmarked for overtaking lanes and this will improve road safety on both areas.

“As expected, we have the next stage of the Macalister Irrigation District (MID) confirmed, which was part of the Port of Melbourne lease sale. It will benefit the Maffra/Stratford/Heyfield region of my electorate.

“There are also funds for sewage pumping station upgrade in Marine Parade, Lakes Entrance, and a water treatment project for Bairnsdale.

“As far as the Stratford Rail Bridge is concerned, given the planning and costings were almost complete two years ago, I am at a loss as to why that was not funded when the government is boasting a surplus.

“The same applies to the Bairnsdale Secondary College. It is ready to start when funded, but at the present time we can’t even get the Minister to come and meet the school council, despite repeated invitations from myself and the council itself.

“Both of these projects will be a matter of continued lobbying and representations and I will continue to advocate until they are delivered.

“From a wider perspective, it is also difficult to understand when the government is bragging about a $2.9b surplus we have police stations closing, lack of investment in police numbers and a new tax that will drive up the power bills of families.”