State opposition leader Matthew Guy got a taste of Warrnambool's train service on Monday, literally, with a staff shortage leaving passengers on the afternoon train without food service.
Mr Guy has embarked on a 40-day blitz visiting 40 electorates and Warrnambool was the first on the list.
After a busy morning in Melbourne, the Liberal leader had planned to eat a late lunch onboard the train but found the buffet was closed because of a staff shortage.
With MP Roma Britnell set to join Mr Guy on the Colac to Warrnambool leg of the journey to highlight the state of the rail service, a last-minute phone call and a quick roadside stop ensured Mr Guy and his team had something to stave off the hunger pains.
A self-confessed train buff, Mr Guy said he had done a lot of train travel around the state and had plenty to say about the Warrnambool line.
"This carriage is from the 1950s and the others are from the early '80s," he said. "They're 70 years old. They're running way past their lifespan.
"The track conditions were not great and that means under investment for years and years".
Mr Guy said while money was being spent on the Warrnambool line, there was "no upgrade to maximum speed which means no upgrade to the timetable".
He said he was concerned the VLocity trains that would be used on the Warrnambool line would be the same as used on the shorter city routes saying they should be fitted out with better seating more suited to long-haul trips.
Mr Guy said the shortage of staff was a problem everywhere, and south-west businesses were not immune.
"We need to get foreign workers back into this country. We are close to a million people short in terms of foreign workforce," he said.
"It's a gaping hole in our employment market at the moment."
While bringing in more workers from overseas is only part of the solution, finding somewhere for them to live is just as big a problem.
"It's a massive problem outside of Melbourne," Mr Guy said.
"It's one of the reasons we want to introduce a 'rural planning flying squad' again to speed up permits to help councils."
Mr Guy said there was a backlog of getting new land supply through to the department and the minister.
"We have to have a flying squad to speed up the permits to get them through," he said.
"They go around assisting councils to clear a backlog of what they've got. It's never been more needed.
"I know some councils are trying to get new staff and they're moving them into caravan parks. There's no houses.
"How bizarre that you have to bring in a new town planner and put them in a caravan park because they don't have any housing to put them in."
Mr Guy and Ms Britnell will be meeting with south-west councils to talk about planning issues this week.
One of the major focuses of Mr Guy's visit to the south-west was to look at the state of the region's roads.
At the weekend, the Liberal Party made an infrastructure guarantee to give regional areas "what they're entitled to".
Mr Guy said between six and 11 per cent of total infrastructure spend went to regional areas despite 26 per cent of the state's population living there.
"It's completely unfair, particularly when you see the acute problems of road conditions in the south-west," he said.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Now just one tap with our new app: Digital subscribers now have the convenience of faster news, right at your fingertips with The Standard:
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.