The Baillieu Government has been caught stripping money from community libraries, the Member for Western Victoria, Gayle Tierney said today.
“The small print in the new Libraries Funding agreement has revealed the Baillieu Government is cutting up to $4.95 million from our public libraries,” Ms Tierney said.
“The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) is seeking answers from the Baillieu Government, and has called on councils across the state to not sign the new libraries funding agreement.
“The MAV found that even though Council were now paying more than under previous agreements, Mr Baillieu is trying to avoid paying for public libraries.
“Mr Baillieu has been caught red handed helping himself to the funding that keeps Surf Coast Shire libraries open and available to all.
“This will result in service and program cuts to Surf Coast Shire libraries, impacting on those who use our libraries, in particular those accessing services they could not otherwise afford,” Ms Tierney said.
Ms Tierney said Labor proudly supported libraries across Victoria through the Living Libraries program, investing over $34 million on over 138 projects.
“Victorians are visiting libraries in record numbers, with more than 33 million visits each year and more than 48 million items borrowed,” Ms Tierney said.
“Given almost half of all Victorians belong to a library; it makes no sense to cut their funding.
“Labor recognises the importance of libraries in our communities, but Mr Baillieu’s attempt to fleece these institutions of funding demonstrates he just doesn’t get it.”
When in office, Labor upgraded, built or replaced 66 libraries, funded major refurbishments to another 58, and either replaced or upgraded 14 mobile libraries which service remote communities.
“Mr Baillieu should continue from where Labor left off, and build bigger, better libraries with even more resources to meet the needs of the Surf Coast community,” Ms Tierney said.