BENDIGO's parliamentarians have welcomed the state's 2020-21 budget, saying central Victorian and statewide initiatives will support recovery after the COVID-19 crisis.
But the budget has been criticised by the opposition as city-focused and debt-heavy.
Victoria's first COVID-19 budget, the state government has described it's aim as to repair, recover and build back stronger.
Funding in the region included $10 million for Bendigo Senior Secondary College, $12 million to turn the former Kyneton Primary School into an exhibition space, and funding for schools including Epsom, Chewton, Newstead and Tarnagulla primaries.
State budget 2020-21:
- Shock budget win final piece of the jigsaw for Bendigo Senior Secondary
- Government funds health approach to public drunkenness
- State budget pours $8 billion into regional Victoria
- Castlemaine Goods Shed gets state budget boost
- Families welcome push for residential aged care ratios
- $10 million boost for upgrade to Bendigo Senior Secondary College
- Budget looks to reshape state with plans to create 400,000 jobs in five years
- 'Need for change': VCAL to be scrapped, replaced with single VCE program
- $12 million for former Kyneton Primary School works welcomed
- Enormous step for Dja Dja Wurrung as cultural hub funding promised
The Castlemaine Goods Shed received a $6 million boost, as part of $34.7 million funding for regional creative infrastructure projects.
The Dja Dja Wurrung Corporation has been promised funds to build a cultural hub, which it says will be an enormous step towards reaching its aspirations.
In a move welcomed by Bendigo families, the state government has ramped up pressure on the federal government to introduce minimum staffing ratios for all aged care.
The state also committed $16 million to a health-based response to public drunkenness, instead of a criminal approach. Abolishing the offence of public drunkenness was recommended by the coroner in her report into the death of Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day after a fall in Castlemaine Police Station.
The budget set a target of creating 400,000 jobs by 2023. It includes a $619 billion Jobs for Victoria scheme to help those most affected by the pandemic, such as women, young people and those without a formal qualification.
More than $8 billion of the budget spend is targeted at regional Victoria, including $4.7 billion for regional road and rail, and more than $1 billion for health services.
Several funding announcements had already been made in central Victoria, including:
Bendigo East MP Jacinta Allan said the budget sent a strong message to the central Victorian community that the government intended to support it during the rebuilding and recovery after a difficult year.
Ms Allan said investment in local schools, increased child protection workers and relief for families with free kinder would help build back stronger.
"There's a job to be done here, and the government is going to do everything it can, not just rebuilding following the pandemics, in a stronger way," she said.
But Shadow Minister for Regional Victoria and Decentralisation Peter Walsh criticised the budget, saying it did not deliver the boost to jobs and businesses desperately needed.
Mr Walsh said regional communities had missed out on support entirely, by a debt-heavy, city-focused budget.
Bendigo West MP Maree Edwards said the criticism was "nonsense", saying the regions had done extremely well with investments in roads and infrastructure.
Ms Edwards said the big budget was necessary to support economic and social recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The investment in our communities, in businesses, in families, and individuals is unprecedented, and it's had to be that way, because that's how we will recover from COVID-19," Ms Edwards said.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.