In a strong vote of confidence for rural and regional Victoria, the Federal Government’s 2021-22 Budget has invested heavily in a booming agriculture sector, better freight infrastructure and healthier country communities.
Investments in soil health and biosecurity, expanding trade opportunities for our agriculture sector, a boost to rural financial counselling and the decision to waive some farm debts will support better productivity and profitability for our farmers.
Meanwhile, our regional communities will be an even better place to live and work with funds for roads and rail, incentives to fix the shortage of GPs in rural and remote communities and a boost to rural aged care.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said these investments, which will go directly into rural and regional communities, came at the right time.
“The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed the way we live and work, with regional Victoria in prime position to benefit from the exodus of people out of the cities,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Federal Liberals and Nationals are putting their money where it counts, by investing in healthier, more liveable regional and rural communities.
“When our farmers are prosperous, that flows through into our country towns, creating more job opportunities with a boosted spend in farm supply stores, at the local grocer or butcher and in our cafes, bakeries and pubs.
“To date, the city-centric Andrews Labor Government has failed to come to the table where it’s most needed.
“This includes refusing to stump up its share of $5 million to progress the crucial Murray Basin Rail Project or for desperately needed hospital or school upgrades.
“Right now, record numbers of regional Victorians are waiting in pain to get the treatment they need.
“Next week’s State Budget must address health waitlists, including for elective surgery and for drug and alcohol rehabilitation and to restore a cut in the number of screenings for breast cancer.
“The Federal Liberals and Nationals have led the way by injecting the funds into the projects our country communities need, the Andrews Labor Government must now follow suit.”
Other 2021 Federal Budget investments that will benefit regional Victorians include:
• $2 billion to fund its share in the Intermodal Terminal to link Victoria into the east coast’s Inland Rail route which is taking trucks off our roads and improving efficiency of our freight network,
• $65 million to tackle GP shortages in rural and remote towns by increasing incentives for doctors to work outside metropolitan areas,
• $156.8 million for a suicide prevention program that will offer three-months of follow up care,
• $200 million to implement the national soil strategy, including rebates for farmers who provide soil data,
• $15 million to promote Australia’s trade interests, including appointment of a new agriculture envoy
• $111.2 million over four years to expand digital mental health services,
• $600 million for a new National Recovery and Resilience Agency to better assist communities to deal with natural disasters, including bushfire
• $630 million over five years to boost aged-care services for rural, remote, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,
• $100 million for improving cervical and breast cancer screening programs, and;
• $998 million over the next four years to reduce domestic and family violence, including for frontline services and for programs that specifically support migrant, refugee and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander women.