Dear valued subscriber,
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.
This story touched the hearts of many. Our thoughts are with Mortlake's Boyden family after Jackson, 19, suffered a serious injury in a car accident earlier this month. Jackson is a fighter, according to his mum, and an 'adored human being' who was named Moyne Shire's young citizen of the year. An appeal has been set up, if you can help, contact the Mortlake Post Office.
It was a big week for Warrnambool's Phyllis Hartley, who celebrated her 104th birthday. She is the oldest person on the South West Coast voter list and she still lives in her own home. Incredible.
Our beaches are so good when we want to cool off but they are not without their perils. Last weekend a Warrnambool surfer rescued a swimmer in trouble at Logan's Beach and sadly on Thursday, despite the efforts of several people including a school student, a man died on Warrnambool's beach after being pulled from the water. Our thoughts are with his family and those who did their best to save him.
We know that Christmas and the festive season will be different this year because of COVID-19. The city council this week confirmed there would be no New Year's Eve fireworks.
One of the most read stories of the week related to a proposed new development the city's east. A service station with a fast-food outlet is planned for land between Gateway Plaza and the Harvey Norman complex. But will the fast-food outlet be another KFC outlet? Judging by the reaction on our Facebook page, there's a lot of people hoping that's the case.
Restaurants were in the news earlier in the week after one Warrnambool business was issued with a warning for breaching COVID-19 capacity restrictions. One long-time restaurateur said half the city's hospitality venues were breaking laws, prompting police to launch an educational campaign.
It's going to be an interesting week with Warrnambool City Council to elect a mayor on Monday night. Whoever is elected will be on a steep learning curve with none of the new councillors having any previous council experience. The expected move to appoint a deputy seems a good decision.
Photographer Morgan Hancock had an early start this week and captured sunrise at Warrnambool's breakwater (see pic above).
Here's some other stories that made headlines this week.
Until next week,