Nine regional summits will be held across Victoria each year to identify much-needed projects for the bush, tackle entrenched disadvantage and recommend policy responses to regional problems.
The summits will be led by nine new advisory groups to be formed across Victoria. The groups, or “regional partnerships”, were announced by the state government on Tuesday and labelled the centrepiece of the government’s new blueprint aimed at boosting regional Victoria.
The blueprint for the bush also outlined new regional spending pledges, including
- * $34 million for regional skills and training, with a focus on disadvantaged areas and groups
- * $25 million to upgrade transport routes, particularly aimed at agricultural producers
- * $20 million for irrigation upgrades in Gippsland’s Macalister irrigation district
- * $18 million to improve mobile phone and internet connectivity on V/Line rail routes, via grants to mobile phone carriers
Under the blueprint, a new fund will be established to support “the 10 most significant regional tourism projects” in the state. The government has also pledged to “boost visitation and expenditure in regional Victoria” by focusing on specific regional tourism segments and markets, such as nature-based tourism, or food and wine tourism.
The government said that the blueprint would “give regional communities a stronger voice in government decision-making”, and make regional Victoria a better place to live.
“Victoria’s regional statement”, launched in the state’s north-east by Premier Daniel Andrews and regional development minister Jaala Pulford, also flagged that the government would consider fast-tracking projects of state or regional significance, if those projects boosted jobs or local economies.
Mr Andrews said the statement would “make sure that, more than ever, government is working for regional communities. Not those with the loudest voices – but the families, workers and communities that are the heart and soul of regional Victoria.”
He also said: “I truly believe that Victoria can’t be the best place in the world unless our regional communities are the most successful in the nation. That’s why we’re getting on with it.”
The nine regional advisory groups announced by the government will be made up of representatives from business, education, community groups and different tiers of government. They are separate to the existing Regional Development Australia committees.