2019/20 Victorian Budget Special Interest Group | Lock-up Summary
The Andrews Labor Government delivered its 2019-2020 budget, and there were few surprises.
The Government has committed to delivering on its election pledges; maintaining a budget surplus while investing in key transport infrastructure projects, health, education, regional development, and safety.
The government has made a $27.4 billion commitment on their Suburban Transport Blitz. This includes $15.8 billion of funding towards the North East Link (which they will fully fund), with a further $6.6 billion to remove an additional 25 level crossings. The government is on track to remove 75 crossings by 2025.
$3.4 billion has been invested in the suburban train network, with those living along the Sunbury, Hurstbridge and Cranbourne lines set to benefit. $163 million has been set aside for new and upgraded trams, while our bike and footpaths will be improved with an additional $45.4 million invested.
In addition, funding has been allocated for Victorian schools, hospitals, mental health services, and measures to ensure our communities are kept safe. Small and medium-size businesses, and regional businesses are set to benefit with a range of policies to support their growth.
Committee for Melbourne commends the Victorian Government for investing in these areas so critical to our social and economic wellbeing.
There were, however some important areas that were not addressed in this budget. In addition to the government’s investment in public housing and homelessness services, the Committee would have welcomed a greater focus on Greater Melbourne’s mix of housing stock. We require a range of housing options which are affordable and accessible for more Victorians, and mechanisms in place to support build-to-rent as an investment class. Affordable housing is crucial if we hope to remain a city which can attract and retain highly skilled talent.
Government-led investment into the development of Fishermans Bend was also left wanting. This most critical precinct on the edge of Melbourne’s CBD needs strong government leadership to realise its potential and to turbo-charge its development.
Finally, there appeared to be little to advance our city’s innovation agenda. With our future international competitiveness hinging on our capacity to innovate and commercialise new research, the Committee remains concerned that there were no direct incentives for greater R&D investment, and no funding committed to understanding and leveraging the impact of new and emerging technologies, particularly artificial intelligence.
For Melbourne, Victoria, and Australia, to continue to thrive out to 2030 and beyond, we require governments that embrace the challenges and opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.