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Recovery theme for State Budget

The State Government has promised western Victorians it will revitalise tourist attractions, build roads and social housing and upgrade community facilities and schools in the region.

Premier Daniel Andrews said yesterday’s Victorian Budget 2020-21 represented an ‘unprecedented investment to help the state recover – and to make sure no community and no Victorian is left behind’.

Mr Andrews said getting Victorians back working was at the heart of budget, which set a goal of creating 400,000 jobs across the state by 2025.

“A job is worth more than just a pay cheque. A job means security and stability. It’s why this budget is dedicated to creating new jobs and getting people in western Victoria back into work,” he said.

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Mr Andrews said a $619-million Jobs for Victoria investment would help people most affected by the pandemic and included $250-million to work with employers to cover wages. 

It will also include $150-million in subsidies to help employment of women.

Mr Andrews said the budget also included $1.5-billion in tax relief.

He said this included a new Jobs Tax Credit project to support small and medium businesses that rehired staff, restored hours or created new jobs.

He added that to encourage business to regional Victoria, the government would also bring forward a 50 percent stamp-duty concession on the purchase of commercial and industrial properties to January 2021.

‘Jobs crisis’

But Member for Ripon Louise Staley said the budget failed to address an immediate ‘jobs crisis’

“Victorians need projects that are for now, not years down the track,” she said.

“This is a budget full of spending taxpayer money and weak on job creation or getting projects up and running now.”

Mr Andrews said the budget confirmed a $465-million allocation to attract visitors to regional Victoria through a Victorian Tourism Recovery Package. 

This includes reinforcing the Grampians as a flagship tourism destination.

Mr Andrews said a further $1.9-million would transform Llew Schilling’s silo at Rainbow.

The project includes art and projections on the outside, access inside and a lift to a viewing platform and views across the Big Desert. 

Mr Andrews said community facilities to help people reconnect included land purchases to build new fire stations at Warracknabeal and Dimboola. 

Renewables focus

He also said a $1.6-billion investment in renewable energy would help create jobs in regional communities, with western Victoria one of six new Renewable Energy Zones across the state. 

He said the government would invest in a $626-million Digital Future Now package to improve mobile coverage and broadband access, while supporting businesses to grow and create new jobs. 

This includes $300-million to eradicate mobile black-spots in populated regional areas and $250-million to co-fund business-grade broadband connectivity for regional communities through a Gigabit State program.

There will also be a $64-million Digital Skills and Jobs Program to help regional Victorians and $65-million for Victorian famers, growers and producers through a new agriculture plan.

A Breakthrough Victoria Fund focuses on agribusiness with $50-million going towards upgrades at agricultural colleges, including Longerenong College. Mr Andrews said education and healthcare reforms and social-housing development were also a major part of the budget.

A $6-billion Big Housing Build features a $15-million allocation for Horsham.

A $47-million statewide school-building program includes refurbishing class and music rooms at Stawell Secondary College and upgrades for Rainbow P-12 College and Concongella and Natimuk primary schools.

‘Tireless’ advocates

Member for Lowan Emma Kealy paid tribute to Warracknabeal community for its ‘tireless’ advocacy, with confirmation of a May announcement of $19.8-million in Warracknabeal Education Precinct funding in the budget.

“I commend Warracknabeal teachers, students and families for taking up this fight and never giving up,” she said.

Ms Kealy said she was, however, disappointed that the government had not committed any health funding in Lowan, and ‘very’ little cash for roads.

“The government has set aside $2.8-billion on roads in the budget, and yet the only slice of funding our area will receive is $4-million for the Henty Highway from Horsham to Lascelles – a drop in the ocean for a road spanning about 145 kilometres,” she said.

Ms Kealy was also critical of a government decision to publish the state’s capital program in budget documents.

The government will provide an extra $120-million for its Regional Health Infrastructure Fund and $870-million for mental-health services. 

• People can view a copy of the State Budget 2020-21 online at website The budget papers are split into four sections and are supported by Budget Information Pages.

The entire November 25, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

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