New figures that show regional Victoria’s economy is slipping proves the state needs a strong decentralisation policy, South West Coast MP Roma Britnell says.
The figures, derived from the national accounts show regional Victoria’s economy shrank by about 1 per cent, the only regional economy to go backwards, while the economy of Melbourne grew by 4.4 per cent.
They also showed Victoria has become the most centralised state in Australia, with 81 per cent of economic activity happening in Melbourne.
“These figures prove what people in rural and regional Victoria have known for a long time – governments are far too city-centric,” Mrs Britnell said.
“We have seen major businesses in regional Victoria close, or shift their focus to operating in the city. It all comes back to investment in infrastructure.
“In South West Coast our roads are falling apart, our rail services are unreliable and there is inadequate power supply to farms and other manufacturers.”
Mrs Britnell said the State Government should be doing everything it can to ensure the regional economy doesn’t fall further behind.
She said Portland Aluminium’s current situation should act as a lightbulb moment for the government – helping it realise the significance of regional areas to the state’s economy.
“We need major investment, not just band aid solutions like lowering speeds for trains and trucks. That decreases productivity and discourages businesses to invest in regional areas,” she said.
“Our region has huge advantages. It is already the leading milk producer in the country with ability for further growth. We don’t have the urban encroachment Gippsland has. We don’t have the challenges with the water that they have in the North of Victoria.
“This region successfully produces so many other agricultural products, beef, lamb, seafood, grain, fibre and timber. The ability for increased productivity with the right policies to facilitate this is enormous.”
Mrs Britnell said the Liberal Party was committed to growing the regions through the Victorian Population Taskforce announced last month.
“Regional Victoria is the solution to Melbourne’s population and congestion woes – we need strong leadership and innovative thinking to make it happen. The Liberal Party will deliver this, all Labor has proven it can do is govern for Melbourne.”