New skills, good jobs, more schools, better roads in Western Victoria

The Andrews Labor Government is getting things done, investing in the big projects that Western Victoria needs and the people we need to deliver them.

The Victorian Budget 2018/19 delivers $4.3 billion for regional Victoria, making sure regional communities have reliable roads and rail, good schools and quality healthcare.

As we build our state, thousands of new jobs are being created. We want to make sure Victorians are first in line for these good new jobs.

Skilled workers are in demand across regional Victoria and more than ever, the skills required for these high-demand jobs are learned at TAFE. To ensure that cost never stops people from getting the right skills, it includes $172 million to make priority TAFE and pre-apprenticeship courses free – helping us fill skills gaps and get Victorians into work.

More students will be able to access this training and get these good jobs, with $304 million to open new classes and fund more than 30,000 new training places.

More young people will be able to get a trade and go straight into a job with new Head Start Apprenticeships and Traineeships giving students the option to undertake an additional year of high school, and graduate with an apprenticeship or traineeship, ready to work in a high demand or high growth industry.

An extra $44 million will also update learning materials, introduce independent assessments and bring back trade papers to make sure our apprentices are trained to the same high standards with recognised qualifications.

Because every family, in every community, should have a good school close to home, this Budget includes $181 million to build, plan and upgrade 60 regional schools.

Local schools to benefit include Stawell High, Casterton Primary, Dimboola Memorial Secondary, George Street Primary in Hamilton, Kaniva College and Merino Consolidated School.

Families with kids at kinder in the Wimmera South West region will also benefit from $3.6 million to support children to get the most out of kindergarten and boost school readiness.

Right now, mental illness is hurting communities and leaving families heartbroken, so the Budget invests a record $705 million – the largest investment in the state’s history – to give Victorians the treatment they need.

It includes more rehab beds, more mental health support workers and new and upgraded specialist facilities across the state.

This investment will see extra funds for the Grampians new alcohol and drug residential rehabilitation centre with $6.7 million provided to get this brand new facility up and running.

We’re also making sure that every Western Victorian patient gets the care they deserve, with $462 million to redevelop the Ballarat Base Hospital – the biggest ever investment in the region’s health services – including a new emergency department and day treatment centre.

A further $50 million will boost the Labor Government’s flagship Regional Health Infrastructure Fund – a fund that is upgrading hospitals in places such as Ararat, Edenhope and Stawell – to make sure regional Victorians can get the best healthcare, in the best facilities, wherever they live.

The Budget also invests $1.3 million to better protect women and children from violence with a boost to crisis support across the Wimmera-Southern Mallee regional partnership area.

And because our regional roads are not up to scratch, $941 million will get on with the job of fixing our regional road network. This will enable the biggest road maintenance blitz our state has ever seen with $55 million set to be spent in Western Victoria and a dedicated country roads body, Regional Roads Victoria, established in Ballarat.

As part of the unprecedented road work blitz, urgently needed repairs will be carried out on sections of the Midland Highway, the Henty Highway and the Glenelg Highway as well as dozens of other roads in need of repair.

The Budget also includes almost $100 million for planning and pre-construction of new bypasses on the Western Highway at Beaufort and Ararat, as well as $39.9 million to upgrade the Princes Highway West between Colac and the South Australian border.

There’ll also be pedestrian upgrades on Ararat-Halls Gap Road near Marian College and St Mary’s Primary.

This enormous investment in country roads builds on the record breaking program of upgrades and maintenance carried out across Victoria, including the Western Highway, Glenelg Highway and the Pyrenees Highway.

This year’s Budget also includes $704 million to give Victorians in regional areas better public transport, including $130 million towards track and signalling upgrades on the Maryborough and Ararat lines, to improve the reliability of the regional rail network – which is an essential requirement for any future return of passenger services to Dunolly.

The Budget includes $22.2 million for extra buses and more services across the regional bus network including in Ararat and Horsham.

Local workers at Alstom will also benefit from $104 million to purchase 30 additional X’Trapolis carriages for the metropolitan network, which helps retain high skilled jobs in Western Victoria.

New government procurement offices in Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong and Shepparton will make sure regional businesses get more opportunity, while businesses in regional Victoria will benefit from additional payroll tax cuts. The regional payroll tax rate will be 2.425 per cent – half the metropolitan tax rate and the lowest rate in the nation – helping local businesses expand and growing local jobs.

The Labor Government is also listening to regional Victorians, delivering almost $760 million for local priorities identified by our Regional Partnerships. This includes $500,000 for a Grampians Cycling Plan business case and $300,000 to develop a business case for an arts trail through existing silo arts installations in the Wimmera and Mallee.

The Labor Government is investing a further $11 million to reduce the digital divide and better connect regional and rural communities – another key priority from our Regional Partnerships – with the local community also getting a more secure water supply thanks to a $32 million investment in the East Grampians water security project.

This is a Labor Budget that delivers on the things that matter in regional Victoria. This is a Budget that gets things done.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“Wherever you live, this is a Labor Budget that delivers on the things that matter – new skills, good jobs, more schools and better roads.”

“It’s an investment in the big projects that regional Victoria needs and the people we need to deliver them.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford

“Labor knows there’s more to Victoria than Melbourne, and our budget delivers for every corner of our state.”