THE Victorian 2022/2023 budget was released on Tuesday and the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) and the United Firefighters Union (UFU) say they have been forgotten in the state's $12 billion pandemic repair plan.
VFF President Emma Germano said Victorian treasurer Tim Pallas' speech failed to mention agriculture as one of Victoria's key export industries, noting that the state's 21,000 farm businesses played a vital role in the state's post-pandemic economic recovery.
"Agriculture plays a vital role in keeping Victoria's economy moving and the investment in the services and infrastructure we need and deserve is totally underwhelming," she said.
"Farmers have helped to keep Victoria alive through the pandemic and now that we are approaching the other side, we can't be treated as an afterthought."
While the VFF welcomed the $1.9 million community pest and weed management investment and the $12 million for a research glasshouse complex and incubation hub at the Horsham Grains Innovation Precinct, Ms Germano said the lack of key road infrastructure to support farmers was "underwhelming" and "bitterly disappointing".
"This is yet another budget that fails to address the chronic underfunding of Victoria's regional road network," she said.
The budget will invest $101 million into regional road upgrades, however the VFF say some areas of state have missed out.
"Western Victoria has particularly missed out on funding for upgrades to critical freight routes so farmers can get food and fibre to market," Ms Germano said.
The federation weren't the only ones disappointed with the state budget on Tuesday, the United Firefighters Union said the lack of new investment in Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) was "putting the community at risk".
"This is not about wages and allowances for firefighters - this is about the tools and training that firefighters need to save lives and property," UFU secretary Peter Marshall said.
The bulk of the state government's investment in firefighting was a $9 million investment for CFA stations and Victorian Emergency Management Training Centres to support better gender diversity and Inclusion, including new changing facilities.
However, UFU said Victoria was falling behind on international firefighting standards.
"Twenty years ago, the standard was a minimum of 7 professional firefighters on the fireground to ensure safety, and allow firefighters to enter burning structures and comply with the "2 in, 2 out" principle, now it's about a dozen."
UFU also said while Victorians all pay the same Fire Services Levy, those in newer areas are not getting the guaranteed 7.7-minute emergency response.
"Outer metro areas like Rosebud and Pakenham have only have one truck crewed by four firefighters," the union said, "this is an unsafe response to fire incidents."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.