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The Liberal Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell says the 2018/19 State Budget is one full of smoke and mirrors that raises more questions than answers on passenger rail and education in Shepparton. Ms Lovell said the headline of nearly $313m for Shepparton passenger rail in the budget is a furphy and voters will not be fooled with what is clearly a budget full of smoke and mirrors.

“The Andrews Labor Government trumpets a $313m announcement for passenger rail but the details of the budget reveal that only $5m will to be spent in the 2018/19 financial year, pushing out any improvements to Shepparton passenger rail services for many years,” Ms Lovell said.

“This budget does not provide a commitment to a single additional rail service and merely allows for yet another study on the cost of UP TO nine daily services; this is a far cry from an actual commitment to increasing services on the Shepparton line and pales in comparison to the recent iron-clad commitment of the Liberal National Coalition.”

Ms Lovell said she was bitterly disappointed that the recent announcement of $20.5m for the Shepparton Education Plan has also been placed on the never never with today’s budget revealing that only just over $500,000 will be spent on the plan in the next 12 months.

“Educators and the wider Shepparton community were hoping for further commitments to the SEP in this budget but instead it has been revealed that the $20.5m will be spent over the next five meaning we will not see the completion of stage 1 of the new secondary college until the start of the 2022 school year at the earliest,” Ms Lovell said.

Ms Lovell said that this was the case with most of Shepparton’s budget commitments including the Munarra Centre, the Shepparton Alternate Route road upgrade and the Shepparton bypass funding being spread over multiple financial years.

“This budget is just another example of Shepparton being drip-fed funding commitments over many years while other regional centres reap the riches from Daniel Andrews and Labor,” Ms Lovell said.

“The devil is in the detail and the detail of this budget shows that the Shepparton electorate has once again missed out particularly when compared to commitments made to other regional cities such as Geelong and Ballarat.” ENDS

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