The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) is calling on the Victorian Government to head back to the drawing board after a disappointing budget result for regional freight infrastructure.
VFF President David Jochinke said the Victorian Government needs to boost investment in road and rail to ensure agriculture and other regional industries can affordably and safely get their produce to port and market.
“Regional roads continue to crumble and freight trains crawl to port at a huge cost to industry. We see billions flowing to metro and passenger rail projects, yet critical freight corridors continue to be ignored. This doesn’t make us feel like we received our fair share.”
“The budget invested an average $19.6 billion a year in infrastructure, yet there is little more than $300 million allocated for regional road maintenance. Regional freight seems to have been put last in this year’s (2020) budget,” said Mr Jochinke.
“Without efficient regional freight the ability for our export focused industries to exceed the National Farmer’s Federation goal of $100 billion in farm gate output by 2030 could be put at risk.”
“We don’t want to put a ceiling on the growth of our agriculture industry,” Mr Jochinke said.
VFF Grains Group President Ashley Fraser said investment in freight rail was essential to get trucks off roads and reduce Victoria’s future road maintenance and upgrade bill.
“Walking away from the Murray Basin Rail Project will only push more truck onto roads. This will require a far greater long term investment to keep these roads safe. It just doesn’t make sense.”
“We are calling on the Government to do the planning now to ensure next year’s (2021) budget invests big in regional Victorian freight infrastructure.”
“We need less band-aid solutions and more strategic and long-term investment,”