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Watchdog confirms Labor duds Gippsland on funding

Victoria’s Auditor-General has belled the cat on just how dramatically the Andrews Labor Government has dudded Gippsland on funding for important regional development projects.

In a report released yesterday, Outcomes of Investing in Regional Victoria, the Auditor-General highlights that Labor’s spending in South Gippsland Shire is just 9 per cent of that delivered when The Nationals were in Government, while in Wellington Shire it is just 26 per cent.

The report highlights that 30 per cent of regional development funding under Labor has gone to just two cities, Geelong and Ballarat, which the Auditor-General highlights are cities that are relatively well off and in less need of economic support than smaller municipalities.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien said this was formal confirmation of what most people already knew.

“Daniel Andrews thinks regional Victoria is Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo and has starved other parts of rural and regional Victoria of important regional development funding.

“This dramatic funding cut is replicated across most Gippsland shires and indeed across the rural parts of the state.  Daniel Andrews and Labor are more interested in the jobs of their regional MPs than in helping create jobs and economic growth for areas in need.”

The Auditor-General’s report found that South Gippsland Shire received $19.6 million under The Nationals’ Regional Growth Fund from 2011-2014 but just $1.9 million under Labor’s Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund.

Wellington Shire received $21.9 million under The Nationals and just $5.9 million under Labor.

“Compare that to the whopping $79 million for Ballarat and $69 million for Geelong and we can see an obvious bias against smaller rural areas,” Mr O’Brien said.

“These regional cities have also seen massive infrastructure spending while Gippsland’s roads crumbles and our rail service is the worst performing in the state.

“It begs the question: what was Labor’s ‘only’ representative in Gippsland Harriet Shing doing all this time while her colleagues were starving Gippsland of much-needed investment? We can only hope that her new colleague Jane Garrett will do a better job.”

Mr O’Brien said the neglect of Gippsland was evident in the Premier’s failure to visit and offer meaningful assistance to our drought-affected farmers, and the rejection of bids for funding of projects like the rail yards and Bair St revitalisation in Leongatha.

“Daniel Andrews promised to govern ‘for all Victorians’ but this report shows he remains focussed on the city and big regional centres.”

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The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien says an Auditor-General’s report highlights how South Gippsland Shire residents have been short-changed by Labor, including on projects such as the Leongatha rail yards and Bair St revitalisation project.

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