This week's federal budget contained allocations that will go some way to addressing the nation's big issues but there was little joy when it came to south-west specific announcements. We celebrated more funding for long-awaited road upgrades across the region's crumbling network including an extra $9.4m for the Princes Highway West on top of a previous $60m that remains unspent. There was $17.5m to improve dairy supply chain roads in the Corangamite Shire area and a further $20m for roads in the Green Triangle Area.
We have been crying out for better and safer roads for years and given the lack of investment in previous decades we are unlikely to change our tune any time soon.
We sweat on budgets from all levels of governments every year and ask, 'what's in it for me?'. The federal budget's road allocations for the region were good news. But there were several other broader funding announcements that will influence the lives of south-west Victorians.
They say the devil is in the detail but when it comes to these sorts of commitments, the devil is in the rollout or implementation. As we know only too well, money in the budget is one thing, it's what we get and when that ultimately matters. Like the highway upgrades that were funded two years ago and nothing has been spent. The federal government is frustrated because it says it's up to the state government to do the works.
Next week it will be the state government's turn to hand down its budget. Will it contribute to the road upgrades that fall under its responsibility? Will it get on with the job of spending Canberra's almost $70m set aside for the Princes Highway between Warrnambool and Port Fairy? Will the state budget contain long-awaited commitments for Warrnambool's breakwater and boat ramp and funding for The Lookout alcohol and drug residential rehab centre?