Mr PURCELL (Western Victoria) — My constituency question is addressed to the Minister for Regional Development. Last week I read of the new Infrastructure Victoria plan which suggests a variety of controversial ways to combat the congestion in Melbourne, including charging motorists $5 to enter the city. This is particularly frightening when this is a 2016 recommendation, yet Melbourne's population is only half of what it is expected to be in 2060. Melbourne is obviously choking itself.
To me the answer is simple: decentralisation. Create the infrastructure in regional Victoria to stem the population growth in Melbourne, relocate government departments and their employee opportunities to regional centres and encourage the growth of regional communities, or the situation in Melbourne will become dire.
I therefore ask: will the minister start the decentralisation process by relocating departments to regional centres, in particular western Victoria?
WRITTEN ANSWER (Received 9 March 2017):
Labor governments have a strong record of decentralising government services to create more jobs in regional areas including:
– the Transport Accident Commission to Geelong;
– Rural Finance Corporation to Bendigo;
– the State Revenue Office to Ballarat;
– the Office of Housing call centre to Moe; and
– Statewide Rural Emergency Services Dispatch Centre to Ballarat.
We are focussed on effective delivery of government services and programs in regional areas which will help retain and attract people to live and work outside of Melbourne.
We continually look at whether agencies can be located in regions based on the needs of the agency.
Government services relocations need to be aligned with local workforce skills and specialisations such as the relocation of the Transport Accident Commission to Geelong, which reinforces Geelong's niche in health and accident care and insurance, or the relocation of Rural Finance Corporation to Bendigo, which has a financial services skilled workforce.