24 February 2023

Case for Indi funding made to Treasurer ahead of Federal Budget

 The Federal Government must invest in roads, housing and community infrastructure across Indi in the next Budget, says Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines.

Dr Haines has released the Indi Budget Submission ahead of the 2022-23 Budget, making the case for investment in the region to unlock economic opportunities.

Working with local councils to identify funding priorities, Dr Haines has ensured the needs of Indi are considered by the Government as it prepares the budget.

“The Indi Budget Submission puts our priorities front and centre and highlights urgent projects across the region, projects that will deliver value to taxpayer and projects that will ensure North East Victoria thrives,” Dr Haines said.

“Increased funding for roads is always a priority, but after the flooding last year and extreme weather across the region, the need is more urgent than ever.

“Before the floods, Strathbogie Shire council estimated it needed to spend $15 million to re-sheet 227.678km of roads after continued wet weather. Following last year’s floods, they expect the cost to be closer to $50 million.

“In Murrindindi Shire, there is $21 million worth of road improvement needed, $10 million of which is to bring roads damaged by wet weather back up to standard. Councils across Indi are seeking funding assistance to ensure safety on our country roads.”

The submission also makes the case for funding to allow councils to address the housing availability crisis across the region.

“Housing is a major issue in Indi. In Wodonga $30 million is needed to redevelop existing housing stock to increase the diversity and supply of housing stock to meet the needs of low-income residents and key workers.

“I have called on the Government to fund $2.9 million to Alpine Shire for the Bright Western Gateway development to ensure there is proper infrastructure and amenity to support the new housing.

“In Benalla, $10 million is needed for drainage works to allow further development on the northwest of town.”

“The Rural Council of Wangaratta is seeking $2 million to help it redevelop the Wangaratta Ovens College site to create social, affordable and key worker housing.

“The federal government says it is committed to addressing housing shortages and in Indi we have identified practical ways to help us create more housing that should be funded to promote further investment from other sources.

“We also need a Regional Housing Infrastructure Fund, which would invest in enabling infrastructure like sewerage, drainage and roads to accelerate the development of new housing across regional Australia.

“Rural and regional councils want to open up more housing but we need to make sure funding is directed to the regions and addressing the barriers we face, which are different to those in the major cities.”

Other priority items include infrastructure that serves local communities, including $7 million for an Integrated Community Centre in Corryong to deliver integrated community, library, maternal child health, childcare, and kindergarten services.

Indigo Shire have identified $10 million for a new Beechworth Swimming Pool as a priority, and Mansfield Shire has continued calls for $4 million in federal funding for a new emergency services precinct.

“There is a wide range of priority projects identified across Indi which reflect the growing and changing needs of our communities. These projects will contribute to increased community safety, serve young families coming to our region and the ageing population.”

Dr Haines met with mayors from across Indi in Wangaratta on Friday morning to discuss the priorities from across Indi, including housing issues and funding for roads and telecommunications.

“It was a pleasure to hold a roundtable meeting with representatives from the nine LGAs that make up the electorate of Indi,” Dr Haines said.

“It is an opportunity to discuss our common interest, shared experiences and also learn from each other. It means we ensure the way we work with the Government is most effective and we have the most impact.”

The full budget submission can be accessed here.

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