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    UNITED: Shepparton chief executive Fiona le Gassick, Shepparton mayor and Regional Cities Victoria chair Shane Sali and Horsham mayor Robyn Gulline during a visit to Horsham.Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Regional Cities Victoria driving solutions

Regional Cities Victoria has called for improved support toward permanent solutions to unlock housing supply, fix roads and better recovery rebuilding following natural disasters as part of a submission to the Federal Government’s inquiry into Local Government Sustainability.

RCV has also reiterated a need for the Federal Government to do more to attract and retain critical workers to Victoria’s regions, highlighting the local government sector is experiencing extreme workforce challenges due to a statewide shortage of planning, building and engineering staff.

RCV’s submission stressed that regional council expenses outstripped inflation, small populations did not always cover costs of services required, and legislative impediments – like rate capping – constrained capacity to raise revenue.

RCV represents more than 800,000 Victorians who live in the regional centres of Horsham, Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Latrobe, Mildura, Shepparton, Wangaratta, Warrnambool and Wodonga.

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RCV chairman Shane Sali, mayor of Shepparton, said regional cities were the heart of the nation – underpinning regional economies and supporting the nation’s growth, liveability and access to services for people living in regional and rural areas.

“We absolutely want to make it quicker, easier and cheaper for people who call regional Victoria home – and for it to be safer in the face of ever-present natural disasters,” he said.

“We just can’t meet the expectations of government commitments to grow our regions and improve liveability if we don’t have the professionals to do the work – such as planners, engineers, building surveyors and project managers – or the funding and investment to make it happen.

“Local governments are keen to help Australia grow – it means more homes and more jobs for our regions – but consistent, reliable and responsible funding from the Commonwealth is critical to ensuring we can function.”

Public hearings for the inquiry, led by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Development, Infrastructure and Transport, are now under way.

RCV’s submissions come after a meeting in Shepparton last month where the 10 cities bolstered their commitment to work together to drive investment in regional Victoria, respond to population growth, make regional cities better places to live, and manage the impacts of climate change and the transition to net zero.  

Mayors from each city met and committed to continue their collective advocacy efforts and take the leadership group forward as Victoria’s trusted advisor to governments and other stakeholders.

Cr Sali said advocacy was particularly important ahead of next year’s federal election and a state election in 2026.

“There is growing concern about a lack of future investment in community infrastructure and the services needed to accommodate the thousands of extra people coming to live in regional Victoria every year,” he said.

The entire July 10, 2024 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!