Regional development funding under threat
17 September 2019
The future of Victoria’s only government department dedicated to supporting local jobs and community development in regional Victoria is under threat.
Member for Euroa and Deputy Leader of The Nationals Steph Ryan said Labor’s city-centric government had failed to rule out further job losses and funding cuts from Regional Development Victoria (RDV).
Ms Ryan said the Andrews Labor Government is currently reviewing RDV, but the government has refused to say when the review would be completed or if it would be publicly released.
“It is extremely disappointing that Labor have failed to rule out any job losses from RDV after they slashed $130 million from the program in this year’s state budget,” Ms Ryan said.
“RDV, through the Regional Growth Fund set up by the The Nationals in 2011, supported many critical projects that have led to community development and jobs growth in Benalla,” Ms Ryan said.
“It funded projects like the Benalla’s Lakeside Centre, the redevelopment of Benalla airport and the new Benalla library. It also helped local businesses like Bertalli’s Bakery expand and employ more people.
“Despite this program delivering a $1 billion boost to country communities and encouraging businesses – and jobs – to relocate out of Melbourne, Labor failed to renew it at the May state budget.”
Ms Ryan said that a report released by the Victorian Auditor General ahead of this year’s state budget found that funding for regional development projects in Benalla fell from $4.3 million to just under $2.1 million over the four years of the Andrews Government (p. 61).
“While Labor is pouring billions into city infrastructure, it is starving country communities of funding.
“The rumour mill’s running wild with reports of more job cuts at RDV, significant cash flow problems and delays of more than 12 months for grant assessments.
“People are now starting to question how much longer RDV will survive under the Andrews Government.
“Labor’s $130 million cut to RDV’s administration funding and its failure to renew the $500 million Regional Growth Fund in the May state budget means finding funding for community projects is now very tough.”