In this year’s Budget, the Commonwealth Government has doubled down on our commitment to regional communities.
The 2021 Budget is a win for our region. It delivers several measures that address key priorities for Mallee.
There are a number of great measures that will deliver better roads, infrastructure, and connectivity; greater access to healthcare; the workforce and skills we need for the future; support for thriving regional industries and small business; and a healthier and more sustainable environment.
In terms of community infrastructure, I’ve worked very closely with the twelve local councils in Mallee to compile a list of priority projects.
In March this year, I took this list to the Deputy Prime Minister and argued for an extension of the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure program for another round.
The DPM Michael McCormack fulfilled my request, and is committing $1 billion for another round of the program. This means Mallee councils will share in $37 million to fund priority road and infrastructure projects.
I also lobbied for an increase in the Building Better Regions Fund, and the DPM has now committed $250 million for another round, which is $50 million more than previous rounds. The BBRF has delivered fantastic projects such as the Mildura South Sports Precinct, the Horsham Regional Livestock Exchange, and Woodbine’s disability accommodation project in Warracknabeal.
The Calder Highway will also benefit from further funding from Roads of Strategic Importance, with an additional $15 million committed to this corridor in the budget. Many will have noticed overtaking lanes currently under development between Mildura and Ouyen, and we will see further work in the year ahead thanks to this funding.
The budget also commits $84.8 million for improved connectivity in the regions, through a second round of the Regional Connectivity program. The first round of this program was a huge success for Mallee – we will see new 4G base stations in Lascelles and Broughton, and NBN fibre to the premises technology for Hopetoun and Kaniva.
This budget means safer roads, more local jobs, better connectivity, and improved, modern spaces for our communities and visitors.