Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines has called out the Victorian Government for overlooking the needs of regional Victorians in the State Budget released on May 7.

“Healthcare is the leading issue that people speak to me about right across Indi, and the State Budget has not delivered certainty for our regional health services,” Dr Haines said.

“We know more funding is needed for a single-site hospital on the border to truly meet our healthcare needs, but this has been overlooked.

“The Victorian Treasurer has spruiked an investment of $11 billion into the health system, including $8.8 billion for hospitals over the next four years. Yet there is no commitment for this money to flow to our regional hospital redevelopment. There is also no transparency about the future structure of our health services, which is not good enough.”

“I was hopeful the Victorian Government would announce funding for the redevelopment of Bright Hospital in this Budget, and I am disappointed this did not eventuate. I am committed to working with Alpine Health, the community and all levels of Government to see this important project through to completion.”

Dr Haines has strongly advocated for measures to ease cost-of-living pressures and believes the State Budget missed opportunities to help struggling households.

“The Budget offers little to ease the significant financial strain that households are facing generally,” Dr Haines said.

“I welcome the commitment of $400 to each public school student to reduce the burden on theirfamilies, but it’s simply not enough when households are struggling to meet mortgage repayments, pay energy bills, put fuel in the car and food on the table.

“Cost of living pressure will be increased when waste and fire services levies are introduced – levies expected to disproportionately impact regional ratepayers.”

Dr Haines has fought for funding to address the housing crisis in regional and rural Australia, urging the Federal Government to establish a $2 billion Regional Housing Infrastructure Fund to build basic infrastructure needed to support new developments and social housing.

“The Budget introduces a standalone land tax exemption for land that is used for social and emergency housing – this is a positive outcome,” Dr Haines said.

“However, there is no mention of any new funding to increase housing supply and we know that we’re not on track to meet our housing targets.

“The handbrake on housing supply in regional Australia is inadequate funding for critical enabling infrastructure such as drainage, sewerage and road infrastructure for new development. We need governments to commit to unlocking investment in regional housing supply.”

Dr Haines welcomed investment in local projects, such as the new synthetic green at the Myrtleford Bowls Club.

“I am pleased for the Myrtleford Bowls Club to receive this funding, it’s a positive start for them to reach their project goals. I visited the Club last year and learned about their vision and supported their bids for funding.

“I also congratulate Benalla Rural City on funding for the new pump track at the BMX area, part of the council’s Fawckner Drive Masterplan.

“The Budget includes funding for support services for TAFE students, and additional funding for the continuation of fee-free TAFE which is something I have been calling for.

“The investment in attracting more people to become early-childhood educators is warmly welcomed and much needed.

“I also welcome the Victorian Government extending interest-free loans for home batteries, which is similar to a Bill I have introduced in the Federal Parliament. This will help households reduce their emissions and power bills while reducing strain on the grid.”

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