Initiatives to drive growth, expand industry, build on skills and respond to the challenges ahead are the focus of a $68 million Brumby Government package to keep provincial Victoria moving forward.
Premier John Brumby and Regional and Rural Development Minister Jacinta Allan this week unveiled Moving Forward: Update – The Next Two Years 2008 to 2010, setting out a series of Victorian Government actions in regional and rural Victoria from now until 2010.
As part of the Moving Forward Update, the Brumby Government will invest $68 million in five priority areas:
• $16.7 million to manage growth and change;
• $8.1 million for industry development;
• $7.38 million for skills development;
• $25.2 million for infrastructure development; and
• $10.88 million to tackle drought and changing climate.
The Moving Forward Update builds on the Brumby Government’s provincial economic statement Moving Forward: Making Provincial Victoria the Best Place to Live, Work and Invest which was launched in November 2005 providing a $502 million package of initiatives to boost sustainable economic growth and development in provincial Victoria.
The Moving Forward Update allocates more than $50 million from the successful Regional Infrastructure Development Fund and the Provincial Victoria Growth Fund and sets out new funding of $12.4 million.
Member for Western Victoria, Gayle Tierney said the centrepiece of the Moving Forward Update was a $15.9 million new regional planning initiative to boost the planning capacity of Victoria’s 48 regional and rural councils and accelerate the development of statutory plans for major regional growth centres.
“Victoria’s population is expected to grow by one million by 2021 – a decade earlier than originally forecast – and nearly a quarter of this growth is expected to happen in regional and rural Victoria,” Ms Tierney said.
“This landmark planning initiative will improve local government access to strategic planning information and advice through the appointment of 15 additional planners, who will support local councils to accelerate statutory planning for key growth areas.
“It will also help set out a new direction in regional planning that focuses on developing long-term regional and sub-regional plans, a vision, and a set of actions to achieve common goals for the development of sustainable communities in regional and rural Victoria.”
Ms Tierney said the Government would strengthen existing planning process with greater co-ordination of activities across the State through a newly established regional and rural growth Ministerial Taskforce to be chaired by Regional and Rural Development Minister Jacinta Allan.
Ms Tierney said through Moving Forward: Update – The Next Two Years 2008 to 2010 the Brumby Government had sharpened its focus on regional and rural areas that faced the greatest challenges.
“Since we came to office in 1999 we have governed for all Victorians no matter where they live and regional and rural communities will remain a top priority for the Brumby Government into the future,” Ms Tierney said.
Ms Tierney said consultation with regional communities late last year showed strong support for the direction of Moving Forward, but also highlighted emerging challenges including competition and change in regional industries, skills shortages across different sectors, and continuing effects of drought and a changing climate.
“This package of new and expanded initiatives and programs allocates priorities for Moving Forward at the half-way point of the Government’s five-year blueprint for regional growth and will help secure the future of provincial Victoria,” Ms Tierney said.
“It is about keeping our regional and rural communities vibrant, productive, liveable and sustainable whist also protecting the community values and environment that attract people to a regional and rural life.”
Moving Forward: Update – The Next Two Years 2008 to 2010 is available at www.rdv.vic.gov.au.