Tomorrow’s state budget looks at this stage to be a re-hash of old announcements, some motherhood promises to those of us outside Melbourne and almost a complete disregard for our needs in education, health, public transport and roads.
Maybe there will be a few surprises but this government gets all its big ticket items out of the way early in the piece and so I don’t expect any significant windfalls.
My wish list below is the real deal – it comes from talking to people in the electorate and understanding what is important to them, their families, businesses and jobs.
WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN: The Victorian Government should commit to buying new trains for the North East line and not just talk about money for planning.
What we want to see is a commitment from the State Government for new rolling stock, not a yes, we will do it at some time in the future type commitment, but a given date.
It will be either Labor or Liberal at the next election and we have made our position clear – we will have new, long-haul, modern trains running by 2022 on this line. They will travel at 130kmh just like the XPT, carry more passengers, have a buffet car and all mod cons.
WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN: This budget should include increased funding to allow for extension of existing bus routes and addition of others to meet the growing demands of Wodonga’s urban expansion.
In real terms there has been no increase in funding for public transport in Wodonga for more than a decade.
Now the Labor Government is squeezing contractors with harsh new conditions around school bus services and public transport without acknowledging the challenges facing those living beyond the tram tracks.
WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN: The Andrews Labor Government should provide funding for major capital work projects to fix the failing infrastructure at both Wodonga’s Huon Middle Years campus and Beechworth Secondary College.
They have already made their plan clear with money for planning, money that will be spent on consultants in Melbourne, for a school at Leneva that is not needed for at least 10 years perhaps 20.
Two years ago Beechworth received a budget allocation for planning, last year nothing – the Labor Government now needs to stump up with the money to do the work.
We also know that Melrose Primary School teachers are now so attuned to their leaking roof that they know exactly where to put the pots whenever, if it ever, rains.
WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN: Money for a permanent fix to the McKoy Street/Hume Freeway intersection debacle or southern exits and entrances at Melrose Drive onto the freeway.
It has been three years since an 80kmh limit was imposed on the Hume Freeway near McKoy Street and VicRoads have now engaged the community in its consultations – we need a solution to this situation, one that recognises the existing dangers at that intersection and allows traffic to continue on its journey at 110kmh.
Last week there was a mention of the Kiewa Valley Highway in a statement about a country roads work but I fear that will be the work that is already well underway and previously announced.
WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN: A multi-million dollar capital works project for Albury Wodonga Health.
In recent years, we have seen $1.2B spent in Bendigo on a hospital where they now close wards because they don’t have enough patients. Andrews spent $100M in Shepparton and recently announced another $7M for Wangaratta.
At the same time, there has been no major capital works at Albury Wodonga Health. Our ED has more presentations than both Ballarat and Bendigo, twice as many as Shepparton.
We are the largest health service outside Geelong and we need modern hospitals capable of dealing with a catchment of close to 200,000 people.
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