North East winner from both parties

Cr Mark ByattA KEY North East regional alliance group has backed the Victorian Coalition’s plan to invest $100million in regional centres like Wodonga and Wangaratta.

But Labor is also talking the right talk when it comes to regional development policy, according to 4Hume chairman Mark Byatt, with regional centres to benefit either way come November 29.

The Coalition has announced that $100million will be made available over four years for the use of the 10 regional cities at the heart of the government’s Regional Cities Victoria plan if it wins the election.

That $100million will come from the existing $1billion Regional Growth Fund, of which $500million remains — thus leaving $400million for other regional and rural projects.

Cr Byatt said the funding promise was not a surprise given the Coalition’s Regional Cities Victoria plan showed it recognised the importance of regional centres.

“It’s very good to see they’re backing their policy position by backing investment in that portfolio,” he said.

The cash would be used to improve CBD areas and build economic and social infrastructure.

Cr Byatt said with each regional centre receiving $10million over four years, it was “a very good start” to investing in regional Victoria.

But Benambra MP Bill Tilley said the funds would still be given based on the merit of each project, in terms of how it would impact and aid employment and other investment in each city.

“In Wodonga we’ve got the revitalisation of the CBD, aspirations for Baranduda Fields, and Junction Place that could all benefit from this,” he said.

The Coalition’s commitment follows several pledges by Labor on the regional front including: a $200million regional fund for job-creating projects; $1billion in funding for rural and regional roads; and plans to abolish the Regional Growth Fund and bring back the Regional Development Fund.

Cr Byatt said he was pleased both sides had allocated funds to regional Victoria, regardless of what the fund was called.

“Whether it’s the growth fund or the development fund is irrelevant,” he said.

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