Last night’s Federal Budget included a large investment in regional areas but no specific acknowledgement of funding for the Goulburn Valley Highway (Shepparton) Bypass which remains the top priority for the region.
The announcement in the 2022-23 Federal Budget included funding for several regional Victorian projects including $2 billion for a Regional Accelerator program for manufacturing, education, supply chains, export opportunities and defence industry.
Transport and freight will be boosted with funding of $3.1 billion for an Inland Rail project and $150 million to fund the construction of complementary infrastructure projects that will unlock benefits of inland rail for regional economies.
A Regional Australia Level Crossing Safety Program was announced which includes $160 million for upgrades to level crossings and $880 million for the Roads of Strategic Importance initiative to improve road safety, enhance productivity and boost the resilience of freight network.
Greater Shepparton City Council Mayor, Kim O’Keeffe said while Council welcomes the Government’s $501.7 million investment to help local Councils deliver priority projects, the absence of specific funding for the Bypass is concerning.
Greater Shepparton City Council is advocating to the Federal Government to fund several key projects in the forthcoming Federal election to help strengthen the economic standing, social activity and liveability of the region.
“This region has shown that we can deliver complex projects and each dollar spent here by the Commonwealth Government generates many more in economic activity across the country,” Mayor, Cr Kim O’Keeffe said.
“With the challenges of the past two years it is more important than ever that key priority projects within our region are funded. This will assist in the economic recovery of our region and enhance the prosperity of our community.”
Delivery of Stage 1 of the Goulburn Valley Highway (Shepparton) Bypass remains at the top of the priority list for the region, after the Victorian Government allocated $10.2 million for the finalisation of a business case and the Commonwealth committed $208 million to begin construction, however this is not sufficient to construct Stage 1.
“The time to deliver on this number one priority for our region is now,” said Cr O’Keeffe. “Once adequately funded this project will transform the region’s freight capacity and improve safety for drivers and visitors to the region through diversion of significant volumes of heavy vehicle movement from Shepparton’s CBD.”
“This project has been endorsed by Greater Shepparton City Council and the Committee for Greater Shepparton as a project of the highest priority and has previously received a very substantial Federal Government funding commitment towards Stage 1,” Chair, Goulburn Valley Highway (Shepparton) Bypass Action Group Peter Johnson said.
“The safety and amenity of Shepparton and its CBD and urban areas are being seriously and detrimentally affected by the numbers of vehicles, particularly trucks, which are forced to pass through the centre of the city to access other areas and exits.”
Another key infrastructure project is the Shepparton Sports and Events Centre, which will be a regionally and nationally significant sporting, entertainment and events complex that caters for a multitude of users. Upon completion the project would be able to cater for a variety of mass participation and state, national and international multi sports events along with opportunities to host concerts and cultural events.
“Council has been working with the Victorian Government, regional Victorian Councils and Commonwealth Games Australia for a Greater Victoria Commonwealth Games in 2026,” Cr O’Keeffe said.
“Investment into a redeveloped Shepparton Sports and Events Centre would enable the facility to host competition as part of any regional schedule which would be a significant economic and social boost for the broader region.”
Other key infrastructure projects include the Munarra Centre for Regional Excellence, a Clinical Health School and funding for the Shepparton North Road Package. Council is also advocating for funding to expand the Museum of Vehicle Evolution (MOVE) to increase the current floor space and create a more innovative and engaging experience for visitors.
“La Trobe University is excited to work with our partners at Goulburn Valley Health and GOTAFE to address critical nursing and allied health workforce shortages in northern Victoria in the best possible way – by training people locally,” Vice Chancellor, La Trobe University Professor John Dewar AO said.
“The new Clinical Health School will make a real difference to health and wellbeing and will also support economic development and employment and increase capacity across the Goulburn Valley region.”
Council’s advocacy also includes key Policy Areas identified in collaboration with Shepparton Community Share agencies FamilyCare, The Bridge Youth Service, Connect GV and Primary Care Connect for review of the NDIS Regulatory System and consideration for material disadvantage, poverty and welfare conditionality.