2018/19 state budget: Wins and losses for Ballarat

Ballarat manufacturer Alstom has been thrown a lifeline in Tuesday’s state budget, receiving the contract to construct 30 new carriages for Metro trains.  

The $103.5 million investment was among the main spends in Ballarat Treasurer Tim Pallas kept under wraps until the big day to announce. 

It comes after the state government unveiled a record $461.6 million to completely overhaul the Ballarat base Hospital, the biggest single spend from the Health Department. 

However major projects based near the Ballarat West Employment Zone such as stage two of the Ballarat Link Road, the Ballarat Animal Shelter and the waste to energy facility received no allocation in the government’s fourth budget. 

Other wins in the Central Highlands region include boosted funding to help deal with addiction and mental health as well as almost $100 million to plan two new bypasses along the Western Freeway.

The announcements came as the Treasurer revealed the budget would be in surplus to the tune of $1.4 billion. 

Take a look at the big ticket items the region landed as part of the 2018/19 budget. 

Public Transport

Ballarat’s maligned rail manufacturer Alstom will receive a much needed shot in the arm in the form of a $103.5 million contract to build 30 X’Trapolis carriages for Metro trains.

Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford said the investment was about boosting services to commuters while also shoring up the longevity of the Ballarat business.

“We design our purchasing policies in a way that’s very cognizant of our responsibilities to industry development and the handful of companies in Victoria that manufacture carriages, including Alstom.”

Track and signalling upgrades will be delivered across the Ballarat, Maryborough and Ararat lines through $130 million for service reliability, which will allow the government to return services to Dunnolly.

Roads

Ballarat will take a share of $55.2 million to deliver a series of intersection upgrades along Sturt Street between Pleasant Street and Dyson Drive, with a focus on pedestrian safety outside of St Patrick’s College, Ballarat and Clarendon College and Ballarat High School. 

Almost $100 million will be allocated to planning and pre-construction of new bypasses on the Western Highway at both Ararat and Beaufort, with each bypass receiving $49 million.

It comes after the government announced a new transport department, Regional Roads Victoria, would be based out of Ballarat.

All up the budget will allocated $941 million to fix regional roads around the state. 

Health

The Gippsland region is one of three areas across regional Victoria which will take a share of $40.6 million to create a new, 30-bed residential treatment facility for people suffering from addiction.

An additional $6.7 million will also provide treatment for up to 80 people a year at the Grampians residential rehabilitation facility. 

Central Highlands Regional partnerships will take a share of $5.5 million to deliver key health prevention projects. 

A further $500,000 will be spent to develop a Central Highlands prevention lab program which encourages healthy eating. 

Business

Businesses across regional Victoria will now operate under a payroll tax rate of 2.425 per cent, half that of metropolitan rate. 

Young farmers under 35 will also benefit from a doubled stamp duty-free rate, up from $300,000 to $600,000, while those purchasing farms up to $750,000 will receive a tapered discount. 

A further $50,000 will be used to develop a premium produce business case for the Central Highlands region. 

Ballarat will also take a share in $4.9 million to create the Office of Industry Participation and Jobs and to expand the Industry Capability Network. 

Education

The state will chip in $49.8 million to kickstart a new Head Start Apprenticeships and Traineeships program, which will give 1700 students at 100 schools across Victoria the chance to spend an extra year at secondary school and graduate with an apprenticeship or traineeship. 

A further $172 million will make 30 priority TAFE courses and 18 pre-apprenticeship courses free. 

Homelessness

A feasibility study worth $300,000 will be undertaken to find appropriate responses to homelessness in the Central Highlands region, which will result in a business case for a housing first response pilot program.

What we already knew

Ballarat Base Hospital refurbishment

A windfall $461.6 million investment into the Ballarat Base Hospital will provide at least another 100 inpatient beds as well as additional capacity to treat up to 18,000 more emergency patients every year.

The funding will create a new emergency department, a modernised acute mental health facility, an intensive care unit, a women and children’s hub, an expanded critical care ‘hot floor’. 

The complete overhaul represents the biggest standalone investment in Ballarat Health Service’s history and will not be completed until 2026. 

It’s anticipated the investment will generate more than 1300 jobs in construction as well as about 1000 equivalent full time jobs once complete.

Schools

A new primary school at Lucas and a commitment to expand the Miners Rest Primary School will be two of the key announcements in the state budget.

Ballarat schools are set to benefit from almost $30 million in funding as was announced by Premier Daniel Andrews on April 20.

Other schools set to benefit from the cash splash are Ballarat High School which will receive $4 million and Mount Clear College which will receive $3 million. Stawell Secondary College will also receive $4 million which is part of a $181 million plan to build and refurbish regional schools all across the state.

The new school at Lucas has been a priority for the State Government which recently signed off on the purchase of four hectares of land next to Siena College. The school is expected to be able to be able to accommodate 475 students and is planned to open from term one 2020.

Roads

A newly-created VicRoads department focused on regional roads will come to Ballarat in September. 

The state government announced the new Regional Roads Victoria (RRV) on Thursday, with up to 20 new jobs for the bureau.

The department will set up in the Ballarat CBD by September 1, will eventually move to the GovHub development, due to open in 2020. It is the first definitive stack of jobs heading to the Civic Hall site.

Part of a $941 million regional roads pledge ahead of next week’s budget, RRV will oversee $333 million in funding to improve road maintenance on more than 1,000 kilometres of state roads. 

This story 2018/19 state budget: Wins and losses for Ballarat first appeared on The Courier.