By Staff Writer
The Municipal Association of Victoria has welcomed State Budget commitments to key infrastructure programs and planning reform, but has called on the Brumby Government to work with local government in spending the new funds.
Although funding for local government was limited in the 2009-10 Budget, MAV welcomed the State Government’s commitment to increased spending on infrastructure, including $2 billion over the next four years to expand Victoria’s train, tram, bus and cycling networks.
MAV president Cr Bill McArthur said the increased spending would support local government from the effects of the global financial crisis.
“There’s a strong need to mitigate the impacts of a slower economy by building infrastructure and supporting those affected by the downturn through creating opportunities and providing social support programs,” Cr McArthur said.
“Prioritising much needed sustainable forms of transport will create jobs, alleviate road and public transport congestion, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and offer communities significantly improved transport options.
“Funding for maintenance of freight lines; new train stock, cycling infrastructure and bus services; extension of the Epping line to South Morang; and electrification of the Sydenham to Sunbury train line are particularly welcomed.”
Cr McArthur said he was also pleased to see a “strong focus” on community wellbeing programs.
“Community resilience would be boosted with funding for bushfire support services, $85.5 million for a range of social safety net initiatives, a new $9.3 million volunteer strategy, $20 million for sports facilities, and significant reforms to mental health services,” he said.
Cr McArthur welcomed the Government’s response to the MAV 2009-10 State Budget submission, which advocated for increased funding for planning reform.
“It’s great to see $10.4 million to implement an innovative new e-planning online application system, as well as funding for the Creating Better Places program, which were both requested by the MAV.”
He called on the Brumby Government to ensure that the $3.2 million allocated to the DPCD Development Facilitation Unit was used through a “productive partnership” with local government.
“To date, there has been very little engagement with councils,” he said.
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