THE Victorian Government is “not even interested in upgrading” the North East’s railway line, state Liberal leader Matthew Guy says.
The Opposition leader highlighted the amount of money spent on Melbourne train projects compared to the North East line.
“The state government is spending $7 billion in removing level crossings, upgrading railway lines in the southern suburbs of Melbourne,” Mr Guy said.
“They can’t even find $1 million to upgrade the railway line in the North East.
“You have to ask yourself what kind of government couldn’t be bothered spending a cent here in the North East, but wants to put $7 billion to Melbourne alone.
“This is one of our most important railway lines in the country, it’s the Melbourne to Sydney railway line, and the government is not even interested in upgrading it.”
Mr Guy’s comments came after a tour of Wodonga’s Mars Petcare factory where he heard about the need for quality rail infrastructure.
He also spoke of his new decentralisation and population policy, aimed at boosting growth in country areas.
Wodonga will host a forum in the new year which will allow businesses and citizens to contribute ideas.
Mr Guy cited taxation and planning incentives as well as encouraging Melbourne residents and migrants to regional areas as spurs to country growth.
“A government I lead wants a clear narrative about how we’re going to market regional Victoria, how we’re going to market the North East to get jobs and investment here and to make sure our population grows locally, not just in Melbourne,” Mr Guy said.
The Liberal member for Benambra, Bill Tilley, said the forum would be crucial.
“It’s an absolute imperative for our growth for the future...getting everybody together and coming up with all those ideas, because in life nobody has the monopoly on good ideas,” Mr Tilley said.
The chairman of the population taskforce, member for Kew, Tim Smith, is keen to hear Border views.
Victorian Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford blasted the population policy as “thought up in Kew, written for Kew and only delivering for Kew” and questioning accompanying infrastructure spending.
Mr Smith branded that comment “pathetic” and “ridiculous”.
“No-one thinks 97 per cent of growth should be just in Melbourne and Geelong,” Mr Smith said.