Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood together with Member for Morwell Russell Northe has welcomed the news that a deal has been reached to lease the Port of Melbourne which will secure significant funding for regional areas across the state including Gippsland.
Victorian Coalition Members of Parliament had fought hard to ensure at least 10 per cent of the proceeds from the port lease would be delivered to rural and regional transport infrastructure, meaning a potential windfall of up to $700 million.
Mr Blackwood said the $700 million secured for regional Victoria was a far better deal than originally proposed by the Andrews Labor Government that would have given no certainty to regional communities. ‘The original proposal from the Andrews Labor Government did not secure a single cent for country infrastructure projects,’ said Mr Blackwood.
‘The outcome of at least 10 per cent from the lease is a major win for regional communities particularly those in the Gippsland region.
‘There are a huge range of key transport infrastructure projects which are in desperate need of funding including duplication of track to improve frequency and reliability of Gippsland VLine services, duplication of and upgrades to sections of the Princes Highway East and funding of minor road projects on both state and local roads.
‘It’s critically important that now this deal has been reached that funding begin to flow to regional infrastructure as quickly as possible,’ Mr Blackwood said.
Member for Morwell Russell Northe said that without the $700 million secured through the port lease regional infrastructure would have continued to suffer after already experiencing 18 months of neglect under the current Andrews Government.
‘Regional road infrastructure funding has gone backwards under the Andrews Government with programs such as the Country Roads and Bridges Fund and Regional Growth Fund being axed,’ Mr Northe said.
‘This funding will help negate some of that lost funding and provide a real boost to regional transport funding which is desperately needed.
Mr Northe said other grants and programs had also been tied to the lease of the port and it was important projects from those funds were now implemented to help grow regional economies.
‘The Andrews Government tied funding from the lease of the port to programs such as the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund which replaced the Coalitions very successful Regional Growth Fund that delivered tens of millions of dollars in investment to the Morwell electorate.
’18 months without funding to the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund has seen a slump in investment across regional Victoria that has hurt regional communities.
‘The Andrews Government now needs to begin to deliver projects through funds such as this to ensure regional jobs are secured and can begin to recover and deliver confidence back into our regions for those who live, work and invest here,’ Mr Northe said.