By Wayne Kayler-Thomson
The Victorian Government’s Regional Blueprint Ready for Tomorrow, ticks many of the boxes for regional Victorian business.
Over coming decades, regional Victoria will play an increasingly important role in Victoria’s economic development. In particular, the regions will play a key part in helping Victoria meet the challenges of population growth, energy needs and climate change.
The Regional Blueprint ticks many of the boxes for Victorian business, and will assist regional economic and social development. This will hopefully occur in concert with investment in larger scale infrastructure projects over the longer term. We support the emphasis on the regions as providing a solution to our population growth issues.
This represents a win-win – it takes some of the pressure off Melbourne’s creaking infrastructure and boosts regional development at the same time.
This was our central 2008 Regional Convention recommendation, which also stated that this notion had to be underpinned with solid funding of hard economic and soft social infrastructure. In particular, we support:
- The extra funding for infrastructure through the Regional Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF).
- The Tertiary Education Opportunities package, which is aimed at stopping the youth talent drain from regions by making it more attractive for young people to study and work in the regions, including more university and TAFE courses, more accommodation, cadetships and higher education targets.
- Improved planning via closer working relationships with Councils seeking both more population growth for some areas and the protection of other areas with unique features.
- The emphasis on funding community and civic amenities such as art galleries, providing a more enhanced cultural environment.
- The $36 million regional tourism package, which includes a $25 million tourism infrastructure fund and the $6 million Villages for Victoria concept.
While larger-scale projects such as a regional superhighway will be needed to accommodate population growth and encourage better links between regions, this package provides a strong base for regional development.
We welcome the current emphasis on the regions as evidenced by this Blueprint and the Coalition’s announcement of a $1 billion plan for regional Victoria, and will discuss these plans at our upcoming 2010 Regional Convention in Ballarat.