War of words erupts

November 11, 2017

State Member for Western Victoria and Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford has accused the Nationals of misleading the public about the growth of Victoria’s regional centres.

The information she is referring to came from the chair of the Coalition’s Population Taskforce Danny O’Brien, who stated that Victoria’s regional cities were stagnating.

The Nationals, however, say that the information released by Mr O’Brien is accurate and it is Labor spreading misinformation.

Ms Pulford said only a Liberal-National Coalition that has scrapped the regional development portfolio could have such a proudly ignorant view of what’s happening in Victoria.

‘‘The National-Liberal Coalition just can’t help itself, it’s always talking down regional Victoria,’’ Ms Pulford said.

‘‘Only an opposition that considers regional Victoria to be the state’s toenails and has axed the regional development portfolio could describe our thriving regional centres as stagnating.

‘‘Whether it’s getting on with the Regional Rail Revival project, creating new government job hubs in our regional centres or rebuilding our schools and hospitals, only Labor has a plan to support every part of our great state.’’

However, State Member for Euroa and National Party Deputy Leader Steph Ryan said she was mistaken and the Regional Development portfolio had not been abolished.

‘‘(Leader of the Nationals) Peter Walsh is the Shadow Minister for Regional Victoria and Decentralisation,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘At present the Regional Development portfolio is held by a junior minister.

‘‘By placing responsibility for regional Victoria and decentralisation with the Leader of The Nationals, regional Victoria will have the prominence it deserves in a future Liberal and Nationals government.

‘‘Last year alone Victoria’s population grew by almost 150000.

‘‘Of that number, 125000 settled in Melbourne.

‘‘Melbourne can’t continue to grow at this rate while regional Victoria struggles.

‘‘Victoria now also has the highest unemployment rate in Australia.’’

Ms Pulford disagrees that the state’s regional centres are stagnating and said they were thriving, leading the nation in attracting new residents.

She cites investment in public transport, roads and schools, alongside moving Victorian Government jobs to the regions as proof.

‘‘Our regional centres are also seeing strong jobs growth with a total of 62500 jobs created in regional Victoria since the Labor Government took office,’’ Ms Pulford said.

‘‘(This includes) 11 times the number of jobs created under the previous failing Coalition Government.’’

The fact is that the people of Victoria will ultimately decide who is in the best position to implement policy which will help regional centres grow.

At this point in time it is Labor who the public has voted into power, and Labor policies that are driving the growth of the state’s regions.

However, that could all change at next year’s state election when the Coalition hopes to regain control of the state parliament.

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