Victorian opposition leader Matthew Guy has put forward his plan to decentralise the state in order to help rural and regional areas grow during a visit to Ararat and Stawell on Tuesday.
“We need to provide opportunities in places like Ararat, Stawell and Maryborough for people to remain and businesses and industries to grow, whether that’s tax incentives, whether that’s planning changes or affordability though land availability,” Mr Guy said.
The state government announced this month that Western Highway duplication works would resume between Ararat and Buangor.
Mr Guy said the numerous planning delays showed the state government did not care about the highway.
“Let’s be frank about it, (Premier) Daniel Andrews couldn’t give a stuff about country Victoria,” Mr Guy said.
“If he did, then they would not have let the planning permits lapse for a much-needed highway upgrade.
“Could you imagine that happening in Melbourne.”
Mr Guy accused the state government of being too focused on Melbourne.
“I visit a lot of country Victoria to ensure that we are going to govern for all Victorians not just for the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne, which is what the current government is doing,” he said.
“We are absolutely committed to running a government that governs for all of Victoria.
“The difference between the Liberal Party and the Labor Party is the Liberal Party is totally committed to decentralisation. That means regional growth, that we can look at whether we tax incentives, better road and rail, and relocation of government services into regional Victoria.”
Mr Guy accused the state government of spending too much of the windfall from the Port of Melbourne long-term lease on urban areas.
“Country people have a right to ask what on Earth are we getting from the government when they spend $8b in Melbourne and nothing comparable in regional Victoria,” Mr Guy said.
“We want to address that imbalance, we want to focus on country and regional Victoria because Melbourne is the centre of economic and population growth in this state and that is utterly unsustainable.”
The state government used $1.5b generated from the port lease under the Commonwealth Asset Recycling Initiative to fund its ‘Regional Rail Revival’, which included reopening the Ararat-Maryborough freight line and stabilisation work on the Ararat-Ballarat-Melbourne passenger line.