Helen Haines wants the federal government to co-fund major tourism projects, expand regional infrastructure investment and build North East Victoria’s bushfire management and response capacity in the federal Budget to be delivered on October 6.

The Independent Federal Member for Indi from tomorrow will meet with senior Ministers by zoom and in Parliament across the next two weeks to discuss her Budget submission.

“The Budget is critical for Indi following the triple impact of the bushfire early this year, the nationwide COVID-19 shutdown from March to May and Victoria’s stage 3 and 4 restrictions and the NSW border closure since July 8,” Dr Haines said.

“I’ve worked with our communities over the past seven months to identify priorities and put a robust case to the government that will deliver value to taxpayers.

“Indi’s nine local councils worked closely with me to nominate key projects for our region that will grow jobs and I think the government will recognise the collaboration evident in our submission that supports revitalisation and recovery.

“This pipeline of projects can bolster our position through the upcoming recession, and see us out the other side stronger

“While our communities need stimulus, we’re not starting from scratch.

“Our economy has strong roots. Tourism is an excellent example, accounting for 20 per cent of gross regional product and 25pc of employment.

“But it needs help after summer’s bushfire emergency, the COVID shutdowns and border closures. It lost 1.6 million visitors or 95pc of its business-as-usual market to the end of June. These proposals will put it back on the front foot.

“With a coming boom in domestic tourism, now is the time to invest in blockbuster tourism projects to guarantee the North East’s place as a must-visit destination.”

Dr Haines said the Budget submission targeted these funding priorities:

A new Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund to support projects in bushfire- and lockdown-affected regions like Indi with strong domestic tourism capacity. Over $146.7 million of shovel-ready tourism projects in Indi could benefit including:

  • The Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing: $32m
  • Murray to Mountains Rail Trail: $11.6m
  • Hothouse Theatre upgrade, Wodonga: $2.9m
  • Euroa Cinema upgrade: $0.13m
  • Alexandra-Thornton-Eildon Rail Trail Link: $7.8m
  • Prosecco Road development, King Valley: $7.6m
  • Holden Heritage Centre, Winton: $3m
  • Skyline Road Precinct, Lake Eildon: $25m

More investment in regional infrastructure, either by expanding existing programs or creating new funds. Shovel-ready local infrastructure projects worth more than $403 million are locked out of current schemes, including:

  • Baranduda Fields access roads and parking area: $4m
  • Mansfield Lords Pavilion: $3.7m
  • Alexandra Streetscape and Marysville Regeneration: $3.4m and $0.12m, respectively
  • Telecommunications link between the North East and Gippsland: $5m

Fund critical bushfire resilience and recovery projects as a priority, including:

  • An additional $20 million to the Mobile Black Spot Program (Round 6) or the Regional Connectivity Program to overcome telecommunications black spots in high bushfire-risk communities
  • Provide $15m to build a renewable energy micro-grid in Corryong to ensure power supply and telecommunications resilience

In rural health and aged care:

  • Fund more Home Care packages to enable people to age safely in place
  • Co-fund Albury-Wodonga Health priority projects, including a new women and children’s wing ($60m), research and education hub into natural disaster health impacts ($40m), and community services hub ($30m)
  • Implement the recommendations of the NDIS Tune Review and invest in skilled NDIS workforce development in regional and rural communities

In education:

  • Fund priority actions in the National Regional, Rural and Remote Education Strategy (Napthine Review) to improve educational outcomes for rural students
  • Fund Mansfield Autism Statewide Services plan to build a new term and day school, training and residential facilities for students and families living with autism ($27.9m)
  • Invest in the redevelopment of Mansfield’s only kindergarten service to improve early childhood education outcomes ($2m)

Read: Indi 2020-21 Budget submission PDF

[August 18, 2020]

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