Opinion Pieces

Connecting our Local Communities

30 June 2014

Connectivity is shaping up to be a major election issue this November.

Certainly it has been the biggest single issue people have raised with me over the past six months as I’ve talked to businesses and residents across the new Euroa electorate.

Connecting Benalla - whether it’s through improved public transport, access to reliable, high speed internet services or the elimination of blackspots – opens the door to new opportunities for our region.

The Victorian Coalition Government’s announcement this week that the town’s bus service will increase from 22 to 60 services a week is a big step towards this.

Additional services will provide an affordable and convenient service to make it easier for residents to get to and from work, school, shopping, medical appointments and sport.

So too is the improved punctuality of the Albury to Melbourne train which is now at 94 per cent, with most speed restrictions now lifted.

It’s not perfect, but it’s a dramatic improvement on where it was at this time last year, with just 46 per cent of services arriving on time. 

Connectivity, however, is about more than just getting people from point A to point B.

For Benalla to grow, it is critical that we are well connected with Melbourne and with other regional centres to ensure residents and potential residents have access to services, jobs and educational opportunities. 

It’s also why I plan to fight for a fair share of funding for our region from the $40 million the Victorian Coalition is investing to eliminate mobile blackspots and rollout free wi-fi on V/Locity trains.

Quality infrastructure helps make our community a more attractive place to live and to work.

It helps encourage people to make the move to our community, giving our local businesses and industry access to a wider range of skills and potential employees.

And it gives residents more opportunities to pursue education and training through access to a wider range of higher education and training providers.

Recently I met a young engineer who runs his business in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs from Longwood.  

Technology is changing the world in such a way that not all people need to be physically located at their workplace.

We have incredible advantages on offer – great natural beauty, freedom from the hustle and bustle of the city, cheap land and proximity to Melbourne.

By ensuring we are well connected with Melbourne and other regional centres, we can open the door to a new world of opportunity.

It’s about creating greater access to jobs and education, and improving the liveability of our communities by bringing people together and enabling active participation in local activities and services.

Together we can make a difference

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