Tuesday's state budget will be the most important since World War II, if not in Victoria's history. It was pushed back from its traditional May tabling because of COVID-19. Six months later, Premier Daniel Andrews and Treasurer Tim Pallas have a clear picture of the state's stalled economy.
They know the budget has to resuscitate Victoria and bring hope as we emerge from the pandemic.
That's why Mr Andrews and his ministers have been in campaign mode, announcing key planks of the budget this week.
The south-west has already had some joy. On Sunday, the government announced at least $25 million would be spent on public housing in Warrnambool as part of a $5.3 billion package to build 12,000 new public houses across the state. We have repeatedly highlighted the region's social housing shortages, compounded by high rents because of a lack of supply and rising property prices. This is good news not only in terms of stimulating the economy but addressing a critical issue.
Then on Monday the government announced $18 million would be spent on upgrading toilets, viewing platforms, trails and car parking along the Great Ocean Road. Just how much will be spent in our region remains to be seen but again, the funds are welcome.
Then on Tuesday the government announced $272.4 million for road upgrades, $140 million on the Great Ocean Road and $115 million on routes linking the Princes Highway to the coastal drive. A further $17m will be spent on upgrading dairy supply chain roads.
Come Tuesday, we will have our fingers crossed for more, including the long-awaited Warrnambool Base Hospital stage two redevelopment, The Lookout residential rehabilitation centre, Terang-Mortlake community health service facility, other road upgrades and Warrnambool breakwater and boat ramp projects.
But we also want to know more about how the government plans to balance the books. While finance for much-needed infrastructure has never been cheaper to obtain, it still costs money to borrow money.
Revenue from gaming machines, property and even payroll taxes will be severely impacted this year, and for years to come, and Victorian households have next to no room in their family budgets to absorb any further financial pain.
But judging by this week's announcements, we have millions of reasons to be optimistic the government could be about to pump even more money into the region. It would be the light at the end of what has been a long and dark tunnel this year.