THE COMMITTEE for Gippsland has given a mixed response to this year’s state budget.
CEO of the not-for-profit lobby group Mary Aldred said C4G was especially appreciative of funding for the Latrobe Valley Dental Prosthetics Clinic.
“It is a transformational opportunity for Gippsland, and combines manufacturing, skills and training with health services,” Ms Aldred said in a media release.
The budget sets aside funds for the redevelopment of the West Gippsland Hospital’s maternity ward with an additional three beds.
While that move would see an extra 300 patients per year attended to, Ms Aldred said Baw Baw really needed a new hospital.
“Only the provision of funding for a comprehensive business case and services plan, followed by a new hospital, will fully address the needs of the rapid population growth and associated health needs of the region,” Ms Aldred said.
Other major budget allocations impacting Gippsland included $7.6 million towards the Sale Specialist School, $30 million to assist with the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry and funds for the development of the Gippsland Logistics Precinct.
A total of $22 billion in the budget has been earmarked for the improvement and creation of infrastructure.
The Gippsland Logistics Precinct will receive funding from the $250 million budget from the Regional Infrastructure Fund.
The budget concentrated on improving the public transport system with the introduction of 21 new V/Line trains.
The Cranbourne/Pakenham rail line will also be improved by the introduction of 37 new trains, which will raise the limit of passengers by 42 per cent.
C4G said other projects elsewhere in Gippsland were not as lucky.
Improvements to the Princes Highway between Sale and Tralagon and facilities at Philip Island Nature Parks – projects the Committee for Gippsland supports – missed out on funding.
However, $86.7 million will be granted to fix roads throughout the state and a further $50.2 million allocated to fix specific problems across roads and rail lines.
$75.8 million from the budget will back the building of new bridges to support trucks with heavier loads across main thoroughfares.
“Gippsland has a 6 million tonne annual freight task, so the Committee for Gippsland welcomes this funding being delivered directly into our region,” Ms Aldred said.
The budget included a $500 million Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund, which could be used to support the Gippsland Food Plan and the East Sale RAAF base.
The Committee for Gippsland was happy to see a Future Industries Fund would provide $200 million towards food processing and new energy as they are essential services within Gippsland.
Rural Councils Victoria will receive funds to assist and permit local councils to decide appropriately with reference to planning applications.
The budget estimates that the surplus will rise $0.8 billion between this coming financial year and the next.
“There is still much more that needs to be delivered to ensure Gippsland’s future sustainability,” Ms Aldred said.
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