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Flying Squads to support growth in Western Victoria

Western Victorian Councils will be better supported to plan the future growth of our community under an elected Liberal Nationals government, Simon Ramsay, Member for Western Victoria has said.

Mr Ramsay said an elected Liberal Nationals government will take the pressure off councils in Western Victoria by investing $4.5 million to restore the Council Planning Flying Squad program, giving local councils access to expert planning resources.

“Better planning means our local councils can make the most of new investment opportunities and are best placed to help our existing businesses grow,” Mr Ramsay said.

“For example, the Borough of Queenscliff requested help with a backlog of 15 planning permits.  The Squad was able to get in and clear the backlog for the Council during a staff shortage.”

“The Liberal Nationals have a vision to grow all of Victoria – not just Melbourne – which means we need to make sure our communities are best placed to plan for the future.”

Regional councils often do not have the resources and expertise to manage complex issues such as fire, flood and biodiversity conservation when processing applications, preparing reports and in planning enforcement.

The Flying Squads proved to be a success before Labor axed the program in 2015, with more than 140 projects delivered. An independent review found the program had a cost-benefit ratio of $1:3, while the Australian Productivity Commission described it as leading practice.

Mr Ramsay said councils in rural and regional Victoria were under increased pressure from rates capping, rising costs and skills shortages.

“The axing of this Squad in 2015 was met with enormous disappointment by the regional councils who understood the real value and support it gave to municipalities in need.

“Melbourne-focussed Premier Andrews doesn’t understand that country councils need support to deal with growth and development challenges which will become increasingly meaningful under the Coalition’s decentralisation plan”.

Shadow Minister for Planning David Davis said the Andrews Labor Government’s decision to axe the program was short-sighted.

“Daniel Andrews can’t see past Melbourne’s tram tracks, but the Liberal Nationals will grow the whole state – not just Melbourne,” Mr Davis said.

“If we can help regional and rural councils create business and investment opportunities, then we are also making regional Victoria a more attractive place to live and work.”