REGIONAL CENTRES AT RISK UNDER NAPTHINE GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTAL RESTRUCTURE
Victoria’s regional centres will face possible office closures and job losses under the Napthine Government’s departmental restructure, Leader of the Opposition Daniel Andrews said today.
Visiting Bendigo together with Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan, and Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards, Mr Andrews said there was growing regional concern over the announced amalgamation of government departments.
Mr Andrews said that the departments affected by Mr Napthine’s restructure had already been cut by over $1 billion since his government was elected.
“Denis Napthine has made the problem far worse, by throwing the public service into chaos and putting a question mark over the jobs of thousands of public sector workers across the state,” Mr Andrews said.
“With 100 jobs gone last week at Holden and over 400 at Shell, there is deepening uncertainty about the strength of the Victorian economy and the longevity and sustainability of its regional cities.
“The Liberal/National Government has a long history of cutting services and jobs out of regional and rural Victoria, the Premier needs to assure rural and regional Victorians that there will be no further job cuts,” Mr Andrews said.
The Napthine Government’s departmental restructure will see a series of departmental mergers linking the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) to the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and the merging of the Department of Planning and Development (DPCD) to the Department of Transport (DOT).
Ms Allan said that the Liberal/National Government’s restructure announcement was code for reducing services and slashing jobs to regional centres such as Bendigo.
“Cuts to public service jobs in Bendigo will diminish local services that the community need and rely on from government,” Ms Allan said.
Ms Edwards said that both Bendigo TAFE and the Bendigo Department of Education were already suffering from significant job cuts and cuts to funding.
“Further cuts to the public service due to the government’s announced restructure will have a paralysing effect on the future of the local economy,” Ms Edwards said.
Mr Andrews said that regional and rural Victorians must not forget that Mr Napthine was not only Minister for Regional Cities under the Baillieu Government, but also a member of the former Kennett Government.
“It was the former Kennett Government who referred to regional and rural Victoria as the ‘toe nails of the state,” Mr Andrews said.
Under the Napthine/Baillieu Government regional and rural Victoria has seen
• $616 million worth of cuts to the state’s health budget -including vital mental health support services, rural midwife positions and blow out in hospital waiting lists.
• $300 million cuts to the TAFE training sector that has seen regional and rural campus closures and courses scrapped
• Over 200 frontline Department of Primary Industry jobs lost and office closures
• $41 million cut from the Country Fire Authority
• $100 million scrapped from the states road maintenance budget
• $65 million cuts to Victoria Police/justice services and over 800 jobs lost.