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Victorian State Budget Delivers for Geelong



Whilst the Committee for Geelong (CfG) would always want more for our city-region, we understand that the Victorian State Government's financial resources are not infinite and, in that context, we believe the 18/19 Budget has provided well for Victoria's second-largest city.  Whilst there are a range of funding allocations in this Budget that will benefit our city-region, the CfG has focussed on six key areas of funding that we believe to be important for Geelong.

First, the $153.2 million provided in the Budget towards Geelong's City Deal, which is the Victorian State Government's contribution, is a significant gain for Geelong. This will further support Geelong's visitor economy, with funding towards strategically important projects such as the Geelong Convention and Exhibition Centre and Central Geelong's Revitalisation. The CfG is hopeful that the Federal Government will now commit its share of the funding, in a short timeframe, to ensure that work gets started on these catalytic projects. 

Second, the CfG welcomes the Victorian State Government's investment of $50 million in the Budget for detailed investigations of fast rail infrastructure upgrades, costs and train requirements between Geelong and Melbourne.  The allocation of this funding in the Budget demonstrates that the Victorian State Government is investing in planning work to consider the best way to deliver high-speed rail to Geelong as part of the Melbourne Airport Link. The CfG hopes that this may also potentially include connectivity to Avalon Airport.  The CfG has long advocated for a high-speed rail link between Geelong and Melbourne. More specifically, our Geelong on Track paper, published in 2014, identified the importance of exploring such a link.  The CfG is delighted that our specific and consistent advocacy is advancing progress on this important initiative.

Third, an additional $55 million will be allocated to the Investment Attraction and Assistance Program to provide scale-up opportunities and attract new businesses to Victoria. Our city-region has specifically benefited from this program, with the recent announcement that Live Tiles will establish their Asia-pacific headquarters and a global innovation centre in Geelong.  The CfG welcomes further investment in this program, which will be crucial for attracting even more new businesses to our city-region in the future.

Fourth, the positive economic effects of the allocation of $689.5 million in this Budget to build a new 700 bed maximum-security men's prison at the Lara Prison Precinct should not be underestimated.  This is a significant investment and will create hundreds of local jobs, with ongoing employment opportunities once the facility is complete.  Through Local Jobs First, the Victorian State Government will ensure local contractors and workers are given the opportunity to build this new facility. Under the Victorian State Government's Major Projects Skills Guarantee, registered apprentices, trainees and engineering cadets will make up 10 per cent of the project's total estimated labour hours.

Fifth, Geelong should see a further benefit from the Victorian State Government's reduction in the payroll tax rate by 25% in regional Victoria. This reduction from 3.65% to 2.425% - half the metropolitan rate - is specifically targeted at businesses that operate in regional Victoria and makes it the lowest rate in the country.  The payroll tax free threshold will increase to $650k from 1 July 2018.  Businesses based in regional Victoria and who pay at least 85% of their payroll to regional employees will be eligible.  The CfG welcomes this further reduction and views it as an important stimulus for businesses and organisations to consider relocating to cities like Geelong, and benefit from reduced operating costs.  In addition, the cut could further encourage existing businesses to scale-up which would also provide even more jobs for local people.

Finally, the CfG is delighted that Runway Geelong will receive a $1.3 million funding allocation from this Budget, covering the next financial year. The CfG was integral in securing the initial $1.2m Launch Vic funding for the start-up accelerator program.  Given the importance of start-ups to Geelong, as evidenced in the CfG's international research report Winning from Second, we will continue to work with Runway to advocate in the lead up to the Victorian State election for further funding for this valuable initiative.




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