August 25, 2022
Haines makes case for Indi funding in new Government’s first Budget
Helen Haines, Independent Federal Member for Indi has made the case for significant investment in Indi in her submission to the Government ahead of the October budget.
The new Labor Government will hand down its first budget at the end of October, following the change of Government at the May election. Working in partnership with local councils, regional development stakeholders and others, Dr Haines has submitted detailed proposals for funding across Indi.
“In the last Parliament I worked hand in hand with the community to ensure Indi’s funding needs were front and centre at budget time and you can be assured this will continue in the new Parliament,” Dr Haines said.
“Indi is facing serious challenges regarding health care and housing, but we also have momentous opportunities for investment to fuel regional development. The Indi Budget Submission calls on the Government to address areas of need and boost projects that will help our towns reach their potential.
“I have worked with local councils and community groups to put these projects to the Government, to ensure the projects that are most needed and will have the most impact are at the front of the queue.
The Budget will be handed down on October 25 and Dr Haines has continued the push for Federal funding to be contributed to a new hospital for Albury Wodonga.
“In my first conversation with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese I told him we needed a new hospital on the border and the Federal Government needed to stump up funding alongside the Victorian and NSW state governments.
“We need a world-class hospital on the border to serve the North East region and ensure people can get the care they need, close to home.”
Across the North East, communities are coming together to try new initiatives to address mental health problems that affect many people.
“The Grit and Resilience Program in Wangaratta was started in response to high suicide rates and community-based activism,” Dr Haines said.
“The recent Royal Commission into the Mental Health System of Victoria highlighted the impact the program has had, and will continue to have, in Wangaratta. It needs $300,000 a year to continue, a cost the federal government should meet to promote social connection and inclusion.”
Housing affordability and availability is an issue across Indi, with increased rates of homelessness and many employers reporting they can’t find workers due to the lack of accommodation. In the last Parliament, Dr Haines launched the Regional Housing Infrastructure Fund, a policy which would provide funding for regional councils and utilities to remove barriers to opening up new land for development.
“I’m making sure the Treasurer knows we need a $2 billion fund to open up more land for housing across regional Australia. Policy to address the housing crisis in Australia needs to be more than help for first home buyers to save a deposit,” Dr Haines said.
“In Benalla, we need $10 million for critical drainage work in the west and northwest to allow for more residential development in the town. This work is backed by the Benalla Urban Growth Strategy and the Hume Regional Growth Plan
“Alpine Shire Council has approved significant new residential development for Bright, which will hopefully ease the housing pressures in the popular town which has seen an increase in population in recent years. Public infrastructure to support the additional housing will cost $2.9 million for open spaces, footpaths and upgrades to local roads.
“This investment is necessary to help our communities grow sustainably and address housing availability issues.”
Dr Haines has also advocated to the Government for other critical infrastructure, including $5 million for new and upgraded mobile phone towers at Burrowye and Shelley in Towong Shire.
“The project will establish sub-networks at the edge of the existing telecommunications network providing connection to householders in remote valleys,” Dr Haines said.
“It will have a major impact on the resilience and safety of some of the Victoria’s most bushfire prone areas.”
Reliable power infrastructure is a major issue in towns such as Euroa in Strathbogie Shire, and Dr Haines has called on the federal government to back the shire’s push for a microgrid to increase energy security and reduce emissions.
“Towns like Euroa experience regular brown outs, and the lack of energy security is the single significant barriers to attracting new small to medium businesses to Strathbogie Shire,” Dr Haines said.
“We need $5 million to develop a large-scale micro-grid for Euroa, to increase energy security and reduce reliance on an instable grid that relies on fossil fuels.”
Upgrades to local roads are critical across Indi, and the budget submission includes $9 million for roads across Murrindindi Shire, including for upgrades and sealing.
“This funding will not only increase safety for locals, but allow for an increase in tourists from Melbourne to enjoy more of the beautiful sights of Murrindindi,” Dr Haines said.
“The increase in tourism since the COVID-19 lockdowns has impacted popular destinations and the need for upgrades is growing.”
In Mansfield Dr Haines has backed the push for a joint hub for local emergency services, expected to cost $7 million.
“I’ve visited the SES building in Mansfield and seen the plans for the emergency precinct to co-locate the SES, CFA and Ambulance Victoria services,” Dr Haines said.
“Emergency services in the growing town are being called on more frequently and the Government should stump up $3 million of the total cost.”
Dr Haines has backed the community bid for funding for the Murray Felines female-friendly changerooms in Rutherglen, with $1 million needed for Barkly Park’s facilities to be upgraded to cater for the 150 women and girls who play there on game day.
“Interest in women’s football in the North East is growing quickly, but the facilities are absolutely not good enough. There are currently no change rooms or showers with privacy and I’ve been told some girls often shower with their clothes on,” Dr Haines said.
“I’ve listened to the community and Indigo Shire Council in including this in the ask to the Treasurer.”
The full budget submission can be found here.