The Victorian Economy is forecast to grow by 3.25 per cent in 2006-07, continuing the State’s strong record of growth.
This budget forecasts an operating surplus of $317 million in 2006-07 and surpluses averaging $316 million over the following three years, maintaining Victoria’s triple-A credit rating.
This budget includes a $4.9 billion capital works program, including;
- $200 million to renew the Regional Infrastructure Development Fund.
- $737 million over four years to improve the Monash-West Gate corridor
- more than $850 million to extend and improve bus, train and tram services, improve rail safety and upgrade rail stations.
- $345 million to upgrade arterial roads across the State.
In the interests of further reducing the cost of business, this budget outlines measures worth $1.4 billion over the next four years, including;
- payroll tax cut from 5.25 per cent to 5 per cent over three years
- land tax relief worth $167 million over four years
- reducing the middle rates of land tax by 20 per cent
- reducing the top land tax rate to 3 per cent from 2006-07
- increases in land tax liabilities capped for a further year
- indexation factors eliminated
- WorkCover premiums reduced by 10 per cent, saving business $170 million a year.
The budget allocates $73 million in funding to boost the Victorian tourism and events industry. This includes;
- $52 million to attract new events to Victoria
- $8 million to attract major business events to the new Melbourne Convention Centre
- $12 million to market Melbourne and Victoria in interstate and international markets.
Schools and Skills
This budget announces an investment of more than $1 billion in schools and skills. This includes;
- a new $300 School Start Bonus for every Victorian child starting Prep or Year 7
- an additional $448 million in education and training infrastructure, including nine new and replacement schools and $58 million to buy land for 11 new schools in Melbourne’s growing outer suburbs
- $20 million to commence major regeneration projects across 25 school sites
- $50 million to fast track school maintenance
- a new $500 Trades Bonus to encourage young people to finish their apprenticeships
This budget provides an additional $160 million for vital water projects, including;
- $30 million towards building a new pipeline to secure Bendigo’s water supply and the future of surrounding irrigators
- $50 million in contributions to the Gippsland Water Factory
- $50 million to the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline
- an extra $25 million for the Murray Darling Basin Commission.
Funding for health in this budget include;
- $87 million to fight obesity, promote health and fitness, and tackle chronic conditions, such as diabetes.
- funding for the redevelopment of the Royal Children’s Hospital.
- $498 million to treat an additional 37 000 hospital patients in 2006-07 with a focus on areas under the greatest strain, such as intensive care, maternity services and neonatal care.
- $10 million to reduce waiting lists
- $114 million to extend diversion programs to reduce hospitalisations for people with chronic and complex conditions.
A Fairer Victoria
The 2006-07 budget provides a further $818 million for A Fairer Victoria – with a strong emphasis on giving Victorian children the best start in life. This includes;
- $268 million to protect vulnerable children, improve the wellbeing of children in care, deliver more early intervention services for families and employ more than 100 extra child protection workers.
- $10 million to provide greater support for disengaged young people
- $25 million to boost services for children in Melbourne’s fastest growing areas
- $170 million to improve mental health services
- $67 million for additional disability support services
- $62 million to continue to work with Indigenous Victorians to tackle disadvantage and strengthen local communities.
The budget’s community safety program includes;
- $53 million to continue the upgrade of police stations and courts
- $109 million to fight terrorism and organised crime
- more than $520 million for the next phase of the road safety strategy.
The budget provides more than $800 million for provincial Victoria, including new investment in schools, roads and health and community services and to support regional industries. This includes;
- $100 million for a new Provincial Victoria Growth Fund
- an $11 million package of support for the dairy industry
- $27 million for the energy and resource sector
- a $27 million boost for regional tourism
- an extra $1.5 million to support Victoria’s horticulture industry
- $230 million to support growth in Victorian medical research and life sciences through the Healthy Futures statement (released in April)
- $8.9 million in increased funding to Victoria’s film, TV and digital media industries
- $15 million to boost research in information and communications technologies
- $1.4 million for the APEC Regional Finance centre