Acting Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan today addressed the Murray River Group of Councils Conference at Moama speaking on the theme of regional living.
Mr Ryan said the Murray River Group of Councils, which formed in 2006, were a valuable and appreciated group that advocated for regional priorities through a combined approach with research, strategies and projects.
“The Group, which includes the councils of Mildura, Swan Hill, Gannawarra, Campaspe, Moira and Loddon are unique and of great importance to both community and government,” Mr Ryan said.
While discussing the topic of regional living, Mr Ryan spoke about the recent Regional Victoria Living Expo at the Melbourne Convention Centre, which attracted over 8,000 people, and showcased the great reasons for living in regional Victoria.
“Regional Victoria now has a more diverse economy with competitive and productive agriculture, manufacturing, professional and consumer service businesses, and it accounts for one quarter of the state’s population and one-third of Victoria’s exports,” Mr Ryan said.
“However, strong growth and prosperity across Victoria can only be achieved with additional investment in the regional areas, and this is why the Victorian Coalition Government has developed the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund (RGF).”
Mr Ryan highlighted the significant investments from the RGF into the Mildura River Front ($10.5 million), the Mildura Airport ($5.5 million) and the election commitment for Chisholm Park Reserve in Swan Hill ($2 million).
“The Fund’s $100 million Putting Locals First Program stream has been a very important funding source for the Murray Group of LGA's with 22 projects worth $2.4 million approved, and a further 19 in development or under consideration,” Mr Ryan said.
“In addition, $13.2 million has been invested to the individual councils within the Murray River Group through the RGF’s $100 million Local Government Infrastructure Program for new community assets such as halls and theatres, sporting grounds, libraries and the upgrading of existing facilities.”
Mr Ryan said the $100 million Energy for the Regions program over four years was also a key part of the RGF.
“The $1 million feasibility study into the provision of natural gas to Victorian communities along the Murray River is progressing well and the Coalition Government is expecting the first stage of the study to be completed shortly,” Mr Ryan said.
Mr Ryan also acknowledged the efforts and leadership of the Murray River Group of Councils in helping the region to recover from floods.
“With State and Federal Government support these councils are making significant investments in road and community infrastructure to rebuild the region,” Mr Ryan said.
Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government was focused on creating new opportunities for economic growth in regional towns and communities and is proud to be supporting 522 projects under the RGF across Victoria.