Decentralisation push

Heidi Kraak

Nationals leader Peter Walsh was in the Latrobe Valley on Wednesday to spruik the Coalition’s decentralisation fund which would inject $1 billion into regional Victoria over two terms.

The fund would be focused on assisting existing businesses in regional areas to expand and attract city-based businesses to relocate to regional areas.

Mr Walsh said the Coalition’s plans to establish an independent resource council to provide government with advice on construction industry resource needs into the future would also help businesses in regional areas expand by cutting down bureaucratic and costly red tape processes.

“We are seeing a huge infrastructure program, particularly in Melbourne, that needs sand like we have here, it needs bluestone, it needs all those materials that make concrete,” he said.

“We are running short of that material … we need to make sure we have the raw material to do that building program, so the Victorian Resource Assessment Council will advise government on the needs and more importantly, on how we can simplify the approvals processes, so people like Chris [Blackwood] at Latrobe Valley Sands can actually get on with doing what they do best and that is actually supplying the building sector to build the things we need in this state.”

Mr Walsh said the decentralisation fund would assist in managing population in Melbourne as it would create additional jobs in regional areas.

“It helps grow jobs in regional Victoria,” he said.

“If you have existing businesses that want to grow and create more jobs, then that is the opportunity for people to move out of Melbourne and fill those jobs or locals not to have to move away and more importantly, we can actually attract businesses out of Melbourne and into regional Victoria.”