The Andrews Labor Government must give the Shepparton District its fair share in the upcoming State Budget after regional Victoria was left behind in the Federal Budget.
The Nationals Member for Shepparton, Kim O’Keeffe, said investment in the Shepparton District is critically needed, as the Federal Government spruiked a budget that has short-changed regional Victorians.
“We are seeing firsthand the impact of the government’s inaction on the rising cost of living, housing crisis, and our dilapidated road network all while vital projects in our region are overlooked for funding,” Ms O’Keeffe says.
“The Shepparton Bypass, Goulburn Valley Health Stage 2, Clinical Health School and Shepparton Sports and Events Centre are all projects that need priority funding in order to become a reality.
“The State Government acknowledged the need for the Shepparton Bypass with an investment in the business case of $10.2 million in the 2017/18 Budget and a further $208 million was invested by the former Federal Coalition Government in 2018. This is a critical infrastructure project that is supported by both the Federal and State Government.
“However, since the Albanese Government has come into office, this investment on the table is in jeopardy in response to the Federal Government’s independent review into the former Coalition Government’s infrastructure projects and the Andrews Government has continued to remain silent on the Shepparton Bypass.
“During the State Election Campaign in 2022 Daniel Andrews said he was committed to the Shepparton Bypass. We need to see that commitment in the budget. The State Government portion and commitment of 20 per cent of the project will keep this project on the table and will assure the Federal Government of the State Government’s commitment.
“We know as a community firsthand how important that this vital infrastructure project is. In October last year, the floods resulted in the Peter Ross Edwards Causeway between Shepparton and Mooroopna being closed for extensive periods which as result caused a dramatic interruption to the community, transport and emergency services,” Ms O’Keeffe added.
“The Bypass will enable the more efficient movement of transport and a crucial second river crossing. We are the only major regional city without a Bypass which is astounding when you think that over 25 per cent of the state’s trucks are registered in the Goulburn Valley and this is a major transport route.
Ms O’Keeffe said the Bypass will take more trucks out of our main streets which in return makes it safer for road users, pedestrians, local businesses and tourists to our region.
“You only have to stand in the main street of the CBD of Mooroopna and Shepparton to experience the constant convoy of trucks and heavy vehicles trying to navigate this primitive, unsafe and dysfunctional route.
“In addition, the State Government has committed to $26 million to build part of Goulburn Valley Health’s Stage 2 Redevelopment, an Integrated Cancer Centre but we know that additional allocation is required to close the funding gap to enable the Integrated Cancer Centre to become a reality.
“The Government needs to commit to full funding for the next critical stage of the redevelopment as Goulburn Valley residents deserve the healthcare and services they need.
“The Government must complete projects they start and not just partially fund projects leaving them in limbo or uncomplete. Regional Victorians have been left with short-term solutions in addressing the cost of living crisis, such as bill relief payments that address the symptoms instead of the cause itself,” Ms O’Keeffe added.
“We continue to see the critical shortage of housing, social and affordable housing and severe rental stress.
“My Office is regularly contacted by constituents in desperate need of support and venting their frustration that the government is not doing enough to address this crisis. We are seeing firsthand the devastating impact this is having on people’s lives.
“We all deserve to have a roof over our heads and to afford food on the table.
Urgent support is also needed for those effected by the floods with many people still displaced from their homes and communities struggling.”
Ms O’Keeffe said federal budget items such as the additional $250 million funding for councils to repair roads is ‘a drop in the ocean’.
“Councils have been stretched to do more with less, and this additional funding will only address part of the ever-growing list of roads needing repair.
“Our roads are needing significant repairs and without these repairs, our roads will continue to worsen unless there is ongoing investment from both the State and Federal Governments. We must have significant investment in our unsafe and depilated roads. Lives depend on it.”