Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed yesterday highlighted the great inequity between regions in her budget reply speech.
Speaking on the Victorian Budget 2015-16 Ms Sheed told the Legislative Assembly of the issues she had campaigned on to get elected to parliament including improving passenger rail services to the region, investment in the redevelopment of Goulburn Valley Health, the funding of the Shepparton Bypass and the need for investment in education and training to assist in addressing the high youth unemployment rate.
“The Victorian Labor Party made no promises for the Shepparton District during the last election campaign. It is clear to me that the 2015-16 budget has focused on delivering on election promises,” she said.
“However, the notion that the Shepparton District should not expect much has changed and there is a demand that there be equity in spending, such that the Shepparton District will benefit from significant infrastructure expenditure in the years ahead.”
Ms Sheed referred to the $1 million budget allocation to assist with planning for Goulburn Valley Health.
“I can only take that as being a really positive sign, because if there is going to be $1 million spent on planning, that surely means something else is going to follow,” she said.
Ms Sheed also highlighted the great need for investment in regional TAFE and universities.
“One of the things that has become very apparent in recent years is that there are jobs being developed in the region as a result of growth in dairy, horticulture and agriculture, but we are not training young people coming out of schools to go into these jobs, so there is a mismatch between education and the future jobs that are available,” she said.
“Shepparton is now facing an exciting future with huge potential for growing opportunities, but it needs the infrastructure and the support to make that happen.
“I urge the Labor Government to be brave and innovative in supporting emerging opportunities in the Shepparton District by committing to providing the infrastructure that we need to unlock the wealth of the region.”
She pointed to a 2011 Grattan Institute paper entitled Investing in Regions – Making a Difference which concluded that while there are sound economic reasons for investing in growing areas closer to metropolitan centres there are also strong reasons for investing in cities and towns further away on both social and equitable grounds.
“We are needed, should be serviced in the same way and should have equal opportunities to education, health and all those other things that people in metropolitan areas enjoy.”
Ms Sheed said she would hold the Premier to account in subsequent budgets reminding him that he has said, ‘I was elected to represent all Victorians’ and that ‘Families should not have to leave their home town just to find work, and kids should not have to move to the city to study’ and, ‘Supporting businesses, workers and students here in regional Victoria is the key to our prosperity as a state’.
“I am pleased the Premier has made these strong statements. He has indicated a commitment, and we will hold him to it. The town of Shepparton is the fifth largest regional city. It is time we had a fair go,” she said.
Friday 26 June 2015