STATE BUDGET COVERAGE
THE State Opposition has claimed this week’s state budget ignored the Latrobe Valley.
State Labor Member for Eastern Region Matt Viney said announcements made by State Member for Morwell Russell Northe were all either “about initiatives for other electorates, about Melbourne projects, about the continuation of existing funding or have already been announced”.
Mr Northe, however, welcomed the government’s funding announcement of stage one of the East West Link road, as one with significant local benefit as it would enable regional freight to bypass Melbourne, reducing costs for Gippsland’s exporters.
Mr Northe also announced the continuation of funding for Clean Coal Victoria, which he said played a key role in the “planning of, access to and development of” brown coal resources.
Funding for four new adult inpatient beds at Latrobe Regional Hospital, as well as a five-bed mother-baby health unit on site, was also confirmed, though both initiatives had previously been announced by the government.
The budget also confirmed funds would be allocated to a proposed new Multi-Disciplinary Centre for the Valley to improve responses to sexual assaults. Local service providers have already welcomed indications this money would be made available.
Mr Viney, however, said the Valley had been “abandoned” by the government.
He said the Morwell School Regeneration Project, which would see three Morwell primary schools construct a new ‘super’ school on a new site and a fourth Morwell school redevelop on its existing site – estimated to cost about $12 million – had again been overlooked.
The MP also criticised the government for also failing to support stage 2a of Latrobe Regional Hospital, including the expansion of its emergency department, despite allocating infrastructure funds to numerous other regional hospitals.
Mr Viney said the local community would also be negatively affected by cuts to country-based sports programs and the government’s failure to “fully fund” the Monash Children’s Hospital.