G21 runs ruler over federal budget

November 6, 2022 BY

G21 expects delays for the Armstrong Creek library due to the axing of a fund that had earmarked funding for the project. Photo: CITY OF GREATER GEELONG.

G21 SAYS the Albanese Government’s first federal budget honoured its election promises for the region, but is concerned infrastructure projects will likely be delayed.

The region’s leading advocacy group welcomed funding for projects including the Stage 2 upgrade of the Barwon Heads Road ($125 million), the Armstrong Creek Highball Stadium ($6 million), Drysdale pool ($20 millon), Karaaf Wetlands improvement ($1.9), and Headspace at Armstrong Creek.

But G21 said the Surf Coast Cultural Centre and Armstrong Creek library were likely to be delayed due to the Albanese Government axing the Building Better Regions Fund.

The G21 said it was concerning transport spending in Victoria “will go mainly to the Suburban Rail Loop” in Melbourne, when the region requires almost a billion dollars of infrastructure investment for public transport and trails to ease road congestion.

The ongoing rollout of NBN received a boost, with 1.5 million Australian homes over the next four years to get access to fibre and those with copper connections will have the choice to switch to fibre.

The budget also included the establishment of a new National Housing Accord and Housing Australia Future Fund that is committed to building 30,000 homes in the next five years.

The Stage 2 upgrade of the Barwon Heads Road received $125 million in the federal budget. Photo: JAMES TAYLOR

The Housing Accord will unite federal and state governments, the private sector and superannuation investors to drive market-led construction of 1 million “well located” affordable new homes.

“Unfortunately, these timelines will not translate into immediate action for our region which is now experiencing year-round shortages of workers in all industries due to a lack of housing in all G21 communities,” G21 said.

Given the region’s declining age demographic revealed in census data that shows a large number of 20 to 30 year olds moving to the area in the last five years, the government’s extension of paid parental leave to 26 weeks, cheaper childcare and medicines were also welcome news in the budget.

A forecast rise in energy prices of up to 56 per cent over the next 18 months is of particular concern for households given many are car dependent and already grappling with high fuel costs, rising mortgage payments and minimal wage growth.

“Our region’s growth areas will be hit particularly hard and G21 will be seeking relief for our communities in discussions with ourstate and federal MPs,” the lobby group said.

There were several headline items for First Nations people including closing the gap funding, primary health care traineeships and referendum funding to enshrine an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in the Constitution.