The Mirror News

Shire CEO upbeat on state budget

“IT’S a pleasing budget,” said the chief executive officer of South Gippsland Shire Council, Tim Tamlin, of the 2013-14 Victorian Budget recently handed down by the treasurer, Michael O’Brien.”There’s lots of good stuff in it.”

In South Gippsland, roads, children’s services and pest and weed control are some of the key areas that will benefit, according to Mr Tamlin.

South Gippsland Shire is expected to receive around $1 million per year for its roads out of the $160 million earmarked for roads in the budget. “With this we’ll be able to bring our works program forward,” said Mr Tamlin.

The budget includes $7 million in capital funding for children’s facilities. “This is a great opportunity for Council to seek funding from the state to develop the planned Korumburra Children’s Services Centre, a critical piece of infrastructure,” Mr Tamlin said.

There is a $280 million in additional funding for the state’s (VicRoads managed) roads. With improvements to roads one of Council’s Priority Projects last year, Mr Tamlin is confident that South Gippsland will get a share of this money.

“There is also $7.9 million over three years for control of roadside pests, weeds and rabbits. We will get some of this, which is a good start, but we need more. It should be enough money for us to complete work on a minority of our road network,” said Mr Tamlin.

He added: “Local councils will receive almost $200 million more in government grants in comparison to the 2011/12 [Labor Government] budget and it is great to see the establishment of the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund which is about creating investment and jobs in regional Victoria.”

According to Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan, householders in South Gippsland will also benefit from the government’s reforms to the Fire Services Levy.

“The property levy replaces the old levy on insurance premiums, leading to a fairer system – with all property owners making a contribution to the fire services, rather than just those who take out insurance,” he said.

Among other regional and state-wide initiatives in the budget which Mr Ryan said will benefit Gippsland are:

  • $33.7 million to expand the planned burning program; 
  • $8 million tourism campaign to drive regional tourism; 
  • $61 million for upgrades and replacements of rural fire stations; 
  • $4.7 million to help better protect the livestock industry from serious disease, with a focus on foot-and-mouth disease; 
  • $16 million for grants to landholders and organisations to support native vegetation and threatened species; 
  • $2.3 million for Rural Financial Counselling Service providing assistance to primary 
  • producers, fishers and small rural businesses suffering financial hardship; 
  • $91 million extra for out-of-home care, to continue improving the lives of vulnerable children; 
  • $42.4 million for continued support for mental health beds across Victoria; 
  • $8.5 million for a new independent authority to improve game species management, enforce relevant laws and promote responsible hunting; and 
  • boosting the First Home Owner Grant to $10,000 for newly constructed properties and reducing stamp duty from 1 July 2013.

Mr Ryan said funding announced in the 2013-14 Victorian Budget was in addition to the Coalition’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund – a record eight-year investment in the regions.

“Across Victoria, the Regional Growth Fund has so far invested a total of more than $250 million into 900 projects worth more than $900 million and is expected to create 3,700 direct jobs and a further 3,800 indirect jobs,” Mr Ryan said.

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