With funding announced across a raft of key areas, middle market businesses looking to grow should seek to take advantage of the investments being made in regional Victoria.
In addition to significant expenditure on regional roads and transport infrastructure, the government has allocated $325m to creating jobs in regional Victoria.
The funding is intended to boost the number of jobs in growing industries and give individuals the support and skills they need to fill them. The growth of regional jobs will help to reduce the reliance of regional Victoria on Melbourne for jobs and services.
Tourism is another sector set to benefit from the focus on developing Victoria’s regional towns. Approximately $101m will be spent on supporting tourism in regional towns with the aim of attracting more tourists and generating jobs. Again, businesses should seek to benefit from both the direct and indirect outcomes of investment in tourism.
Welcome investment has been announced by the government into regional rail. Of note is a major $518m upgrade of the Ballarat rail line which is intended to fix the reliability issues along the line which runs via Sunshine, Deer Park, Melton and Bacchus Marsh.
The investment includes building a second rail track between Deer Park West and Melton, additional train station platforms, pedestrian links, car parking and passing loops. The Budget also allocates $280m for 27 new VLocity carriages, supporting the creation of more services and helping to address overcrowding.
Duplication of the Ballarat line has long been an issue and the government’s commitment to upgrade the line will be welcomed by the community and businesses alike. Rail upgrades will create additional jobs and increased train capacity, allowing workers to more easily travel to and from regional Victoria each day.
Regional roads are also a main target of the Budget’s $427m investment to improve safety and reduce death and serious injury on Victorian roads. The investments will include the installation of safety infrastructure such as flexible barriers and tactile edge and centre line treatments.
In addition to the Budget’s allocation to major regional highway upgrades, the government has also allocated $52m for a package of works for regional roads that locals use every day, including small-scale local road improvements.
Future regional roadworks will be funded in Barwon Heads, Phillip Island, Wodonga, Shepparton, Geelong and Castlemaine. Funding will continue for pre-construction works on the Western Highway between Ararat and Stawell, and the Princes Highway East, between Traralgon and Sale.
All of these initiatives are positive developments for businesses in regional Victoria. We hope that the targeted spending will support long term growth and investment in the regions. The measures announced in the 2016-17 Budget go some way towards promoting that outcome.