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Member for Western Victoria Region, Bev McArthur used an Adjournment Debate in Parliament this week to seek clarification from the Minister for Regional Development as to how the Andrews Labor Government intends to bridge the divide between rural Victoria and the state’s big city spheres.

The Labor Government’s 2019/2020 State Budget was entitled, ‘Delivering for all Victorians.’ It contained a continued commitment of $15 billion to the removal of 75 level crossings across the state, yet only $425 million committed to regional road maintenance over the next four years.

Bev McArthur said “There has been no shortage of funding, policies or attention paid to certain areas of our state—metropolitan Melbourne and the major regional cities. The other half—the smaller, more rural towns and country communities that already sit disadvantaged infrastructure-wise and economically—are neglected due to their apparent government electoral insignificance.”

Bev McArthur said “Rural Victorians may ask the minister and the government where this $15 billion has come from to fund the removal of level crossings at $200 million each. Did the funds come from the tax revenue from the $15 billion agricultural industry that rural Victoria contributes each year or the $10 billion in revenue generated from the sale of the 50-year lease of the port of Melbourne, which was built on the back of rural exports?”

Rural Victorians have been left behind in education and have declining populations. Year 9 regional students are lagging an average of 12 months behind their city peers in mathematics and 10 months behind in reading. This year’s regional population growth report from the ABS revealed that 12 rural municipalities have suffered a decline in population.

“The Labor government’s city-centrism has strangled growth in rural Victoria. Regional development does not mean just Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo development only. It must entail ensuring that our rural communities are provided with the necessary infrastructure to nullify their geographical disadvantage and to prosper the agricultural and agribusiness industries that provide such significant benefit to city consumers, state economic wealth and national export revenue,” she concluded.

15 August 2019