Media Releases

21
Jun

POPULATION TASKFORCE INTERIM REPORT HIGHLIGHTS RAIL AND BYPASS AS KEY NEEDS FOR SHEPPARTON

The findings of the Liberal’s Victorian Population Growth Taskforce interim report have confirmed that improved passenger rail services and the completion of the Shepparton bypass, including a second river crossing, are key investments needed for Shepparton to be able to successfully manage some of the state’s expected population growth.
The Victorian Coalition interim report Looking Forward 2050: Managing Population Growth For All Victorians, released this week, outlined these as two of the major investments needed to allow Shepparton to become a regional city capable of supporting the future population balance of Victoria.
Liberal Member for Northern Victoria and Chair of the Shepparton Population Policy Taskforce Wendy Lovell has long advocated for these projects, and welcomed the Coalition’s interim report confirming rail and the bypass as the region’s major needs.
“The report also acknowledged the importance of assuring the future of agriculture, horticulture and food production, as well as water security, for both the direct and indirect impacts of these industries to the region,” Ms Lovell said.
“Consideration of the development of an inland air freight port in Greater Shepparton was also identified in the report.”
Ms Lovell said other issues specific to Greater Shepparton that were identified in the report include business energy security (availability and cost), as well as education, healthcare, recreational and leisure amenities.
The interim report is the result of a six-month process of forums and consultation undertaken by the Coalition across Victoria, with a particular focus on regional communities, and 100 submissions have been received from organisations and individuals.
The final report is expected to be delivered by the end of the year, with the findings used to form the basis of policy recommendations for the Coalition in next year’s state election.
Population Taskforce Chair Tim Smith MP said that currently 77 per cent of Victoria’s population lives in Melbourne and 90 per cent of annual population growth settles in Melbourne, but this growth rate is unsustainable and it is vital to start planning for growth into the regions instead, to make Victoria a state of cities rather than a city state.
“The Coalition recognises the urgent importance of decentralisation from Melbourne, and the findings of the report highlight some of the specific strengths and limitations of cities such as Shepparton which need to be considered to support this,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith said that the taskforce has heard overwhelming feedback that in order to decentralise the population, one way to do it is improve the reliability and speed of rail services, such as is the case for Shepparton.
“Other statewide proposals that would assist the Shepparton region include the removal of land tax on all residential and commercial properties outside of Greater Melbourne, a dedicated minister for decentralisation and geographically-targeted visas to attract migrants,” Mr Smith.

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