Last Tuesday, 15 June, I joined the Premier, the Minister for Regional and Rural Development, and a number of government members of Parliament for the launch of the Brumby Labor government’s Ready for Tomorrow — A Blueprint for Regional and Rural Victoria, through which $631 million over five years will deliver five new strategies with 51 actions to secure economic growth and to attract jobs and population growth to rural and regional Victoria. The tertiary education opportunities package is the centrepiece of the blueprint, which will attract young people to study and return to work in the regions by increasing the number and range of university and TAFE courses and by additional student accommodation, cadetships and new higher education targets.
In the blueprint $260 million has been committed to the Regional Infrastructure Development Fund, which is the largest single investment in this fund since its inception. The RIDF has supported 353 infrastructure projects across rural and regional Victoria, with a total value of more than $1.4 billion. Some of these projects in western Victoria have included $6 million for the Deakin University waterfront campus in Geelong, $5 million for the IBM expansion at the University of Ballarat Technology Park, $2 million for the Portland trawler wharf development, and just under $1 million for the Warrnambool Midfield Meat cogeneration project.
Western Victoria looks forward to the new injection of funds. In the new blueprint there will also be $50 million for the sustainable small towns package to continue the Brumby government’s support of Victoria’s small towns into the future. The blueprint is a result of years of consultation with councils and representative groups across the state.