Candidate blasts ‘city-centric’ budget

RELATED COVERAGE: No budget surprises for Valley

Labor candidate for Morwell Jadon Mintern has labelled the Napthine Government’s infrastructure-heavy budget as “city-centric” and neglectful of regional areas.

“In a budget touting so much for infrastructure spends, regional Victoria has only received four per cent of that $27 billion infrastructure spend,” Mr Mintern said.

“But a lot of those big city infrastructure projects are not being funded for a couple of years – so it will be up to the people of the Valley to judge whether those future projects are more important than the issues important to us now.”

While Mr Mintern acknowledged the $73 million funding allocation for the Latrobe Regional Hospital expansion, he said other Valley sectors such as education had been completely ignored.

“The hospital is absolutely needed and has been needed for a number of years, but there has been no money for local schools identified in the budget,” he said.

“Our schools are falling apart and are in need of major maintenance work, and a number of school projects have been left on the back burner for years by (Member for Morwell) Russell Northe and the Coalition,” he said.

“This budget has completely ignored a lot of the problems we are facing in the Valley – ambulances, schools and TAFEs are all struggling, and they have done nothing to address those issues.”

With forward estimates and tax revenue identified in the budget, Labor will deliver its budget reply today, however, Mr Mintern was not prepared to detail any possible funding commitments for the Valley.

Mr Mintern said with no further funding announced for the Hazelwood mine fire cleanup, Mr Northe had “clearly been silent” at the cabinet table since his promotion to Energy Minister.

“Russell Northe needs to stop being Denis Napthine’s representative in the Valley and start being the Latrobe Valley’s representative in Melbourne,” he said.

However, Mr Northe dismissed Mr Mintern’s attack as “utter rubbish” and lacking substance.

“It’s incorrect to comment with respect to the mine fire response; the funding is ongoing, the budget papers make reference to the EPA monitoring, health study and the inquiry etc,” Mr Northe said.

“We invested $35 million specifically for Latrobe Valley through the employment and industry roadmap, and have supported local businesses to the tune of $10 million.”