The 2018-19 Victorian State Budget for the Geelong region proves that the Andrews Labor Government has been reckless with the regions and ruthless with voters’ wallets.
Liberal Member for Western Victoria, Simon Ramsay, said the budget was a contemptable document that simply exposed what the Government has failed to do.
Convention Centre and City Deal
“The $139.2 million – not the $153.2 million touted – for the Geelong City Deal makes a mockery of these projects.
“Take the Convention Centre: it’s been mooted for 20 years and the Premier rolled into Geelong two years ago to say he would do something. The Liberals funded a feasibility study years ago.
“Everyone knows it’s needed, but only now are we seeing money for something that should have been built by now. What are the chances of a ceremonial soil dig just before November’s election?” he said.
“This project is also dependent on Federal funding. We haven’t seen the plans so we don’t even know what the state is funding and if it will fulfill any of the needs the Geelong community has been desperately asking for.
“Where will it be located? What will it look like?
“The Convention Centre will attract only part of the $139.2 million funding. Only $10.8 million of that will be spent in the next year – it is clearly not enough for the Convention Centre and shows that today’s announcement is an attempt to shut people up”.
“It is a major case of smoke and mirrors – $10 million will go nowhere with the Convention Centre – it will barely build the front door and foyer let alone buy the land that has been estimated at $30 million.
“$10 million might be enough for this Government to build a new toilet at the 12 Apostles, but it won’t be enough to build the Convention Centre.
“It then also leaves the other projects in the City Deal with little to enjoy – it leaves nothing for the Shipwreck Masterplan or the Revitalisation of Central Geelong.”
Rail and transport
The stupidity and showmanship are equally displayed in the $50M fast rail study for Geelong.
“Everyone in the Geelong region knows this is overdue.
“The Labor Party has achieved nothing on this project other than waste time in yet another abuse of the regions.
“Even Steve Bracks thought it was a good idea back in the nineties, and yet, here is Premier Andrews announcing another study for something whose need is dire.
“This is another case of more studies, more reviews, more waste and waiting.
“This party can’t even get the business case sorted for the Waurn Ponds to Geelong South rail duplication funded by the Federal Government. How long is it going to take them to do this study?
“It is extraordinary that no work has started on this project – despite today’s budget showing that $4 million has been spent and it now sits in the column of ‘completed projects’.
“Any wonder this Government thinks it’s achieved so much – it bows for applause for projects that simply haven’t even been done.
“The delays to this project are stalling further works on the federal funded $110 million Geelong Line upgrade which includes a new line to the rapidly growing Surf Coast.
“The sardine service run by this excruciatingly inept Government is a true reflection of the contempt this Government has for the Geelong and Bellarine region.
“The $50m study is another expensive con that won’t get this region moving any sooner or faster,” Mr Ramsay said.
Mr Ramsay said the failure to progress the proposed Waurn Ponds stabling yard is proof that Labor is all talk. Labor promised $115M for the project in the 2015-16 budget with the promise of 130 jobs.
“But there is absolutely nothing happening with this project.
“It is why Geelong residents should have a healthy dose of scepticism when Labor announces rail projects for this region in this budget – when it can’t even get on with projects announced three years ago”.
Big taxes despite ‘no new taxes’
The near $3.3 billion budget blowout on the level crossing project is indicative of the financial mismanagement of the Andrews Labor Government.
Mr Ramsay said the big-spend budget is evidence of the reckless attitude the Government has to taxes.
“If they’ve got the money to spend – it’s only because they’ve taken it straight out of people’s pockets. They claim not to have introduced any new taxes – but the reality is otherwise.
“State taxes have increased by $4.3 billion under Daniel Andrews – and he has achieved this by delivering 12 new or increased taxes.
“When he stood up today and told everyone today how amazing he is with money – just remember it’s your money he’s taking – and it’s more than any Government has ever taken before.”
“This Government has sold off state assets such as the Port of Melbourne and the Victorian ownership of the Snowy Hydro project.
“Today, the Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas, told the Parliament that: “You are what you do – not just what you say you’ll do”. Enough said.
Mr Ramsay said it was 12 months ago that the RACV called for $1 Billion of funding for regional roads.
“With another year gone – the roads that were considered deadly 12 months ago in regional Victoria are even worse now.
“Inflation and higher wages also mean that one year one, that $1 Billion won’t go so far.
“The $77 million this region has been handed for roads is not only desperately belated, but it won’t achieve what it could have had this Government bothered to look at the regions earlier.
“This funding is a tribute to Labor’s inability to recognise country and regional Victoria – and to do so only when an election is on the horizon.
“Country people won’t be fooled by Daniel Andrews”.
“Even the establishment of Regional Roads Victoria, a division of VicRoads to be established to handle regional funding and projects, is itself an unnecessary cost.
“It is yet another layer of Andrews’ madness.
“He actively ignores the regions, is complicit in the roads neglect, and then builds another layer of bureaucracy to deal with the problem he created.
“It is the Labor way. It is in their DNA – neglect, spend, rort, and point fingers in the other direction”.
There is nothing fair about this budget. Household bills and taxes are higher. There is more crime and congestion. Victorians are worse off under Daniel Andrews.