Australia Victoria Budget 2020: Billions allocated to regional health, education and roads

06:15  24 november  2020
06:15  24 november  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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Thought leadership. Publications. 2019/ 2020 Victoria State Budget update. Perhaps the most re-assuring aspect of the Budget is its consistency with what has gone before, demonstrating a Suburban and regional railway lines will also be upgraded. The Government has allocated funding

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a body of water: Victoria's south-west has received a lot of funding for tourism projects and road upgrades. (ABC Open contributor John Morgan) © Provided by ABC Health Victoria's south-west has received a lot of funding for tourism projects and road upgrades. (ABC Open contributor John Morgan)

The Victorian Government is spending more than $8 billion in this year's Budget to help regional Victoria recover from the back-to-back crises of last summer's bushfires and the pandemic.

The Budget includes $3.8 billion in regional road and rail upgrades, and country areas will share in $2.8 billion in health spending.

The state's south-west has emerged as a big winner in the budget, benefitting from a range of measures aimed at helping areas hit hard by the pandemic.

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Budget 2020 has increased the allocation for the education sector by 5 percent to Rs 99,311.52 crore in FY21. Of this, the department of higher education has been allocated Rs 39,466.52 crore while the school education and literacy department was given Rs 59,845 crore.

The Budget includes $2 billion for the Geelong fast rail project, which matches the Federal Government's contribution, and $899 million for upgrading the Geelong line between the South Geelong and Waurn Ponds stations.

Warrnambool Base Hospital will receive a $384 million redevelopment that will include a new emergency department, operating theatres and acute impatient beds.

The Budget also includes $255 million to upgrade the Great Ocean Road.

A budget for recovery

Regional Development Minister Jaclyn Symes said the Budget was designed to help regional areas come back stronger from the pandemic.

"This Budget delivers on the things that are really important to regional Victoria," Ms Symes said.

"Whether it's health, education, digital connectivity, roads, agriculture — the list goes on."

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Available budget 2014- 2020 . Additional tools. Funding for regional and cohesion policy in 2014- 2020 amounts to €351.8 bn. Detailed data and charts are available in the Cohesion Policy Data portal.

She said it would also help get people back into regional areas and stimulate the economy.

There is $626 million for eradicating mobile blackspots and upgrading internet speeds in regional communities on satellite or fixed wireless internet.

The Government is also spending $385 million to upgrade 44 regional schools and 10 regional special schools.

Agriculture received just $115 million, including $65 million for a new agriculture strategy and $50 million for upgrades at the state's agricultural colleges.

Few surprises in big spend

The Budget was short on surprises, with many initiatives announced ahead of budget day.

Before the big day, the Government announced it would spend $465 million to help the state's tourism sector recover, including through a voucher scheme to encourage Victorians to visit regional areas.

The tourism scheme includes funding for tourism projects across Victoria, but with a focus on parts of Gippsland, which was hit hard by the bushfires.

Regional Victoria will also receive 25 per cent of a package for 12,000 new social housing homes across the state.

Ms Symes said the large government spending was aimed towards stimulating the private sector.

"The state needs that to ensure a quicker recovery, a stronger recovery and put us in a post-pandemic situation where we're bigger, better and stronger than we were pre-pandemic," she said.

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