Wednesday 26 October 2016
Deal or no deal on regional Victoria’s Port sale proceeds?
The Andrews Labor Government today refused to commit to honouring its deal to spend 10 per cent of the Port of Melbourne lease proceeds on transport infrastructure projects in country Victoria.
In negotiations with the Liberal-Nationals over the Port Lease legislation, the Labor Government agreed to the 10 per cent fund – now $970 million – for regional transport infrastructure.
But a Government Media Release dated 19 September 2016 says:
“The proceeds are available for infrastructure projects and programs that will benefit the agriculture sector, including transport, irrigation, and energy projects, as well as skills development programs and market access campaigns.”
Asked in Parliament today to confirm that the fund was for transport infrastructure projects only, Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford said this was her “understanding” but then deferred to seeking clarification from the Treasurer.
“Minister Pulford should be embarrassed that she failed to answer such a simple question about a major regional development fund,” Shadow Minister for Regional Development Tim McCurdy said.
“The Government’s media release and the Minister’s evasive response today appear to confirm this.
“The ink on the Port of Melbourne deal is barely dry and already Labor look to be ripping off regional Victorians.
“The deal was that the 10 per cent share would be spent on transport infrastructure in rural and regional Victoria, not irrigation, energy projects, or marketing campaigns.
“Yet again, Labor can’t be trusted to follow through on promises to regional Victoria.”
Minister Pulford also failed to commit to ensuring the funds were spent entirely on genuine rural and regional projects, and not on projects in Melbourne.
“We caught Labor out funnelling money from the Stronger Country Bridges fund into Daniel Andrews’ own electorate of Mulgrave a few months ago,” Mr McCurdy said.
“The Liberal-Nationals fought hard to secure 10 per cent for transport infrastructure in country Victoria and we will hold Daniel Andrews to account for every dollar we deserve.”