Gippsland must be a focus of recovery
The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien has told State Parliament that Gippsland and other parts of regional Victoria mustn’t be forgotten as the state government plans for recovery from COVID-19.
Speaking on the interim budget bills during an urgency sitting of Parliament last week, Mr O’Brien said it would be critical for key Gippsland projects to be funded as the state economy recovers from the coronavirus shut down.
“I believe congratulations are in order for both state and federal governments for their response to coronavirus as at this stage we would have to conclude that Australia is in a great position,” Mr O’Brien said.
“However, as we hopefully move to recover and relax restrictions in coming months, our local economies will need stimulus and there are many projects in Gippsland that will qualify.”
Mr O’Brien again raised the duplication of the Princes Highway between Traralgon and Sale as a shovel-ready project that the Andrews Labor Government has ignored.
“We have $132 million on the table from the federal government and are awaiting a contribution from the state for its share to finish the last two stages of this duplication.
“I know my federal colleague Darren Chester has raised the prospect of the federal money being used to complete at least one of the stages and there is no reason the state government should not allow that. I emphasise though it must make its 20 per cent contribution as well.”
Mr O’Brien said the state government had also failed to match the federal contribution to the final stage of the upgrade of the Macalister Irrigation District (MID) which would create water savings, construction activity and a long-term benefit for the region.
“The MID upgrade would deliver a more efficient irrigation system, save water for investment into further production in the region and that would help create jobs and economic activity.
“I also reiterate my repeated calls for funding to complete the rebuild of Korumburra Secondary College and Foster Primary School, as well as for investment in new fire stations at Mirboo North, Foster and Yarram.
“This government has so far poured billions and billions of dollars into mega projects in the city and has starved the country of vital funds.
“Gippsland has needs and it will be critical that the government spread its investment across the state.
“It is also true that there is a great opportunity to accelerate decentralisation coming out of this pandemic, given that people have experienced the opportunity to work remotely.
“By investing in better rail and telecommunications into Gippsland, the government could do more to accelerate that process.”
The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien says regional Victorian areas like Gippsland must not be forgotten in state government coronavirus recovery plans.