Auditor General shows Benalla is missing out under Labor
10 May 2019
The Andrews Government has gutted funding for regional development funding for Benalla while pouring millions more into Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong, a new report by the Victorian Auditor-General has revealed.
The report Outcomes of Investing in Regional Victoria shows that under The Nationals, Benalla received $4.3 million to fund regional development projects, but funding fell to just $2.1 million over the four years of the Andrews Government (p. 61).
The report was also scathing of Labor’s failure to properly administer the fund, with lengthy application processes, inaccurate data and inadequate accounting of administration costs.
“The Auditor-General’s report lays bare how much investment we’ve lost for important community projects since Labor came to government,” Ms Ryan said.
“Investment into local projects has been slashed by more than half under Daniel Andrews’ city centric government. While Labor is pouring billions into the city, it is starving communities like ours of funds.”
The Nationals set up the Regional Growth Fund, a $1 billion fund to be invested over eight years to support the development of country communities, in 2011.
“The $500 million that we spent over the first four years helped fund projects like Benalla’s Lakeside Centre, the development of Benalla airport and the new Benalla Library. It also helped local businesses like Bertallis Bakery expand and employ more people,” Ms Ryan said.
“When Labor came to government in 2014, they rebadged the remaining $500 million as the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund but instead of investing in our community, we have had to drag Labor kicking and screaming for every cent we’ve received. It shouldn’t be this hard.”
The $1 billion eight year fund established by The Nationals in 2011 expires on June 30 and Ms Ryan said it was critical further funds were allocated in the coming state budget.
Shadow Minister for Regional Victoria and Decentralisation Peter Walsh said targeted investment in regional communities worked.
“You only have to imagine what our regional communities would have missed out on over the past eight years to understand the huge benefits that this $1 billion of investment has delivered,” Mr Walsh said.
“Businesses would not have expanded, jobs would not have been created and community infrastructure would not exist.
“Daniel Andrews is already more concerned with spending in Melbourne and it is disappointing he hasn’t done a better job of demonstrating the value of regional investment programs to the Auditor-General.”
The report also confirms what’s long been suspected – the incoming Andrews Government failed to properly cost its own election commitments before the 2014 state election, meaning funds fell $226 million short.