Nats propose a plan to get regions back on track

THE Nationals have proposed a plan to help Victoria on the path to recovery from devastating COVID-19 shutdowns.

Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien said the new ‘Back to Work, Back in Business’ plan was focused on four critical pillars for recovery which would help Victorians to secure their family finances, rebuild local business, invest in health and education, and support communities.

Mr O’Brien said Gippsland was desperate to get back on track after extended lockdowns and restrictions on business which he said were far in excess of the level of risk given our low case numbers through the pandemic.

“Gippsland has done the hard yards throughout the shutdowns and as case numbers remain low there’s light at the end of the tunnel for a safe pathway to COVID-normal,” he said.

“I’ve been holding a series of listening posts throughout the community in recent weeks and people are keen to get our communities and local businesses up and going again.”

Mr O’Brien said Gippsland would benefit under the plan, from initiatives such as the fasttracking of the Princes Highway duplication to Sale, the reintroduction of the Country Roads and Bridges Program and a $250 million fund to help businesses and government agencies and their staff to implement work-from-home opportunities, particularly in regional areas.

“We are outlining significant payroll tax reductions for regional businesses, a $300 million fund to restore regional tourism, the establishment of a $1 billion Bringing Manufacturing Home fund and placing a freeze on a raft of taxes and charges affecting thousands of Gippslanders,” he said.

“In addition, our plan would help families recover with a one-off increase to the energy concession, no new taxes or tax increases and provide a voucher system to help local kids get back into sport.

“This is not a plan for the next election – Victoria can’t wait that long – this is a comprehensive plan that the Victorian government must implement now.”

Nationals leader Peter Walsh said the second wave had ripped the soul out of regional communities.

“Country Victoria is the engine room of the state and injecting life into our small businesses, agriculture, tourism and manufacturing sectors will help set our state on the path to recovery,” Mr Walsh said.

“But each time Daniel Andrews fronts up to the media, he’s failed to announce a plan to get our country communities – where there’s little to no active cases – back on track.

“The plan the Nationals have put forward today is focused on solutions that will set us all on a safe path to COVID-normal.”

The Nationals have encouraged constituents to join the party in calling on the state government to adopt the plan.