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Regional investment can drive post-COVID boom

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien has told State Parliament that a major reshaping of Victoria may occur in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr O’Brien has urged the Andrews Labor Government to invest heavily in regional Victorian infrastructure as more Melbournians look to relocate in the wake of the pandemic.

“We will need some innovative thinking as we come out of the pandemic induced lockdowns,” Mr O’Brien said.

“I believe there’s a real opportunity here for the state to get ahead of the curve and help reshape our population distribution.

“I’m talking about decentralisation because I believe we’ve seen a change in attitudes from both individuals and businesses and we can create new jobs and opportunities in regional Victoria, particularly Gippsland.

“Last week a poll indicated that a quarter of Melbournians were rethinking where they want to live and that one in ten of them was looking at regional Victoria.

“Even if only a fraction of these actually decide to move, that will be many tens of thousands of people looking for a new start in places like Gippsland.

 

“We need the State Government to get investment to our regions to help drive a rebalancing of population across Victoria.”

Mr O’Brien said the State Government has had an unbalanced investment approach with very little of its infrastructure funding going to Gippsland.

“We’ve seen extraordinary amounts of spending in metropolitan Melbourne with just three projects – the Metro rail project, North East Link road project and level crossing removals accounting for around $36 billion of spending.

“By comparison, regional Victoria has received very little and the Government needs to address this shortfall.

“If we invest in the necessary road, rail, health and education infrastructure as well as improved services for our region then we will be able to accommodate the expected wave of Melbournians heading to the regions.

Mr O’Brien said The Nationals and Liberals had released a Back to Work and Back in Business policy document which suggests a $250 million fund to assist businesses and government agencies to transform their operations to allow more staff to work from home including the regions, as well as abolishing regional payroll tax until 30 June 2022 to encourage more businesses to set up in Victoria.

“Our comprehensive plan includes significant focus on regional Victoria and the State Government can match it at the upcoming budget later this month.”

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien, says the State Government needs to invest in regional infrastructure.

 

4 October 2020

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