Member for Morwell Russell Northe last week in State Parliament finally had the opportunity to respond to the State Government’s Budget and to which he called for additional support and meaningful investment for local community groups, organisations and projects that would build local infrastructure and create local jobs.
“Whilst there was some positive news in the 2019/20 State Budget for our community, there are still some missed opportunities that could be addressed and to which I raised in my Budget response”, Mr Northe said.
“Whilst the Andrews Government honoured their election commitments of allocating $7 million towards the planning phase of the Latrobe Regional Hospital (LRH) development, an electric car facility, provided for upgrades at two Primary Schools, as well as a further reduction in regional payroll tax, it still failed to address some serious issues”.
“For example, whilst some local businesses would be pleased to see payroll tax reform, there are seemingly no reductions in red tape issues, meaning that existing barriers to infrastructure costs remain firmly in place. This could have made a big difference to already approved local projects, or to our local quarry industry who have limited opportunities for expansion despite demand and development projects that sit idle, and stifled by bureaucracy and red and green tape” said Mr Northe.
Such roadblocks not only places at risk current jobs in the Latrobe Valley, but it risks the creation of additional jobs that are desperately needed in our region right now.
Mr Northe also spoke on behalf of Central Gippsland farmers who continue to be ignored by the State Government despite experiencing prolonged drought condition.
“To think that farmers in Latrobe City are unable to access a number of drought support programs is simply outrageous,” Mr Northe said.
“The Government needs to include Latrobe City farmers in these programs and establish a municipal rate subsidy that would provide real support to farmers on the ground and who are doing it tough,” said Mr Northe.
The fact that no provisions are in the Budget to improve travel times for Gippsland commuters who are continually being disadvantaged was extremely disappointing. Much has been made of the continued investment for the Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo V/Line services, yet it appears Gippsland commuters will have to contend paying more to travel less distances on inferior services in the foreseeable future.
The future of Hazelwood Pondage was raised once again during Mr Northe’s Budget speech and at a time when user groups are being evicted from this much loved precinct. To think that no funding has been allocated for a feasibility study has left many locals with a sour taste in their mouth.
The community have been calling for this recreational asset to be returned to public use”, Mr Northe lamented. “I’m in contact with so many community groups and businesses who are completely bewildered that the Government have not even considered initiating a feasibility study and associated funding for this tourism drawcard”. Even Latrobe City Council is calling upon the Government to do precisely this yet such a request continues to fall on deaf ears.
Again the issue of funding for a stand-alone Latrobe Special Development School was raised, as unfortunately no additional funding has been found or announced for this important project.
The State Government had previously announced $6 million for the redevelopment of both Traralgon Secondary College and Latrobe Special Development School; however whilst those funds are welcome much more funding is required to construct a stand-alone Latrobe Special Development School which is the desire of the local community.
“In my Budget response I have tried to ensure that the voice of the Morwell electorate was heard in Parliament whilst expressing where the need for support and investment is required
to make our community an even better place to live and work”, Mr Northe said.