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2024-25 Victorian Budget Analysis

In her first budget as Premier, Jacinta Allan has focussed on support for families coupled with fiscal discipline in an effort to limit the State’s growing debt.

This means another tough budget that provides little specific support for Geelong.

The Government have prioritised supporting families amongst the cost-of-living crisis, as it seeks to alleviate the financial pressure on Victorian households. The headline of this is the $208m School Saving Bonus, which will see families receive a $400 payment per child in government schools (and some eligible families in non-government schools).

It is the Government’s emphasis on fiscal discipline that is the major story in this year’s budget, however, with the narrative focussing on responding to inflationary pressures and dealing with workforce shortages.

This will see the delay of some large projects and reducing other Covid-era programs, with these measures aimed at reducing both Government infrastructure and operational expenditure.

What's In it for Geelong?

At a local level, it was a subdued budget for Geelong. While not unexpected, it is disappointing to see such little new investment in our city and region.

This is particularly the case in key transport infrastructure, which remains the biggest challenge to our city’s continued growth.

Within this budget, a $62.7m allocation for essential remedial works on the Geelong rail tunnel is the extent of investment. This helps maintain what we have, rather than grow.

There are some opportunities for Geelong in this budget however, including the allocation of $9.3m towards essential pre-work for Victoria’s offshore wind industry. With the challenges facing the Port of Hastings, this provides a genuine opportunity for Geelong (specifically GeelongPort) to play a role in the roll-out of offshore wind.

A delay of at least four years in delivering the Melbourne Airport Rail Link also provides an opportunity to strengthen the case for a rail connection to Avalon. At a fraction of the cost and with a more straightforward stakeholder mix, Avalon rail continues to be a key driver for not just the growth of Victoria’s second international airport, but as a growing employment base, critical logistics hub, and future entertainment precinct.

In terms of new funding, we are pleased to see investment in two new primary schools in the Armstrong Creek growth area.

The Kardinia Park Stadium Trust has been provided further operational support which is welcomed, along with the commitment of $3m towards the replacement of the main scoreboard at GMHBA Stadium.

There will be a $1.7m allocation towards planning and attracting events to the Nyaal Banyul Geelong Convention and Event Centre for its 2026 opening.

Unfortunately, Geelong continues to wait for our cultural and arts precinct to be completed with no money allocated to the Geelong Gallery redevelopment. Similarly, there is no investment into the Home of Motorsport at Avalon.

 It is worth noting the legacy funding for the cancelled 2026 Commonwealth Games is not contained within the Budget, as it has previously been committed. We do welcome indications of imminent announcements regarding detail of some of these funding and grant programs.

This is also the case for major project investment into Nyaal Bunyal and the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. As committed major infrastructure projects, these will continue to progress.

 With Geelong one of the fastest growing cities in Australia, seeing strong population and employment growth, our continued prosperity requires investment in key transport infrastructure and an increase in housing supply. This will continue to be a key focus of the Committee’s advocacy focus through the Plan for Victoria consultation process, and in the lead up to the next Federal election.

 On the latter point, we acknowledge and support the Victorian Government’s calls for increased Commonwealth Government infrastructure spending to be directed into Victoria (and specifically our region).

With an ongoing tight fiscal environment ahead for the short term, the Committee for Geelong’s role in advocating for Geelong and putting forward priorities for investment has never been more important.

 We look forward to continuing to engage with our members on the priorities for Geelong and positioning our city strongly.

Michael Johnston

CEO, Committee for Geelong

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