A co-located CFA and SES unit in Heathcote has received funding in this year’s Victorian State Budget, following strong advocacy for the region’s emergency service volunteers.
The Nationals made an election commitment to build a new joint facility for the emergency service providers following extensive consultation with volunteers and community groups.
This $15 million investment was backed by the Government and confirmed this week as part of the 2023/24 State Budget.
Nationals Member for Euroa Annabelle Cleeland spoke about the importance of upgrading the facilities, saying it was a deserving recipient of the funding allocation.
“Both the CFA and SES in Heathcote have had serious difficulties with their facilities,” Ms Cleeland said.
“These issues were made particularly obvious during the October floods, and it was important to do what we could to improve their facilities.
“For them to receive the funding they have campaigned so hard for is a testament to the strength of the community.”
While Ms Cleeland welcomed the funding for the co-located site, she said the budget presented serious issues for regional Victoria with cuts to regional roads, health, and agriculture.
Victoria’s crumbling regional roads are now set to decay further with maintenance funding slashed by 45 per cent since 2020, and from $702.2 million to just $441.6 million in the last year alone.
This comes despite 124 deaths on Victorian roads in 2023 so far, up a shocking 30 per cent on this time last year.
Flood affected roads are still in dire need of repair too, particularly in areas within the Euroa electorate.
The regional development budget has again been cut, halved from $211.5 million to $106.6 million in this year’s budget. Since 2020, it has been slashed by 80 per cent.
Ms Cleeland said there were major concerns with regional health funding investments, with about $1 billion ripped from the health sector.
“This will only leave more regional Victorians on wait lists, struggling to receive the urgent care and treatment many desperately need,” she said.
“Under Labor, Victoria is broke, life is getting harder and regional Victorians are being punished for the Government’s incompetence.
“This budget just confirms that regional Victorians are being left behind by Labor at a time when they can least afford it,” Ms Cleeland said.
“In Heathcote, projects such as improving the storage facilities at the local RSL hall would have been a drop in the ocean compared to some of the spending we are seeing in metropolitan areas.
“The Nationals made a commitment to fund upgrades to the hall, which sadly was not matched by the Labor Government.
“The hall already serves as a meeting place for many of Heathcote’s amazing community groups, and these facilities could have been improved with just minor investment.”