On Monday, we signed off on the biggest transport transaction in Victoria’s modern history: the 50-year lease of the Port of Melbourne.
It was a $9.7 billion vote of confidence in the strongest economy in the nation, and we’re going to pour that money into the road, rail and regional infrastructure projects that Victorians need.
First, I want to make one thing clear. It may be called the “Port of Melbourne”, but the benefits of this deal belong to regional Victoria, too.
That’s why we’re guaranteeing that no less than 10 per cent of the funds – almost one billion dollars – will be invested solely in rural and regional infrastructure, and all the jobs that come with it.
Additionally we’ve set up a $200 million fund to boost the agriculture industry, supporting smaller infrastructure projects to get our produce from paddock to port more efficiently and support our farmers.
This is a smart way to increase exports, cut costs and create more jobs, and it’s firmly backed by the Victorian Farmers’ Federation. I’m very proud of what this deal means for people and businesses in regional Victoria.
I truly believe that economic growth shouldn’t simply ‘trickle down’ to the regions. Economic growth should start in the regions. Unfortunately, a few previous governments took a different approach.
You can just imagine how this port deal might have gone down in the ‘90s, every cent would have been spent on boutique projects in inner-city Melbourne with nothing left over for regional Victoria.
And in the present day, the Liberals and Nationals fought the port lease every step of the way – playing politics and scaring investors and putting the ultimate price tag at risk.
Fortunately, their efforts failed, and now we have almost $10 billion at our disposal to create more Victorian jobs and invest in the projects that Victorians need.
Leasing the port was the right thing to do. There’s no point having all that value trapped in one asset. Instead, we’re going to use that value to build more public assets for the state, like new roads and an underground rail line.
We’ll also use that value to boost jobs in our agriculture industry, because that’s just as important. The food and fibre sector contributes more than $11 billion to our economy and employs almost 200,000 people.
I’m proud regional Victoria will see so much of the benefit.
- Daniel Andrews, Premier of Victoria