Investment in health and the Commonwealth Games are the big winners in a pre-election budget that really says “wait and see” for the key transformational projects Ballarat is pitching for.
With a state election due in November, this budget feels like a watch this space budget, according to Committee for Ballarat CEO, Michael Poulton. “There are some significant announcements regarding health spending and a top line number for the Commonwealth Games, but we will have to wait to see the detail,” Mr Poulton said.
“In health, the state will spend $12b including new and upgraded infrastructure, people in hospitals, home care, Triple Zero and Paramedics, acute beds, elective surgery and mental health.
“The budget promises to fund all the recommendations of the recent Royal Commission, including for Ballarat, planning for a mental health and alcohol and other drugs crisis hub, aimed at reducing pressure on the current hospitals emergency departments.
“Other health initiatives will fund further investment in the Ballarat Base Hospital redevelopment, with 50 new acute beds and additional money for the hospital’s central energy plant.
“A $2.6b investment over the next four years for the state’s Commonwealth Games, is a big number, but what we don’t yet know is how that money will be invested. We do know that Ballarat will host the biggest sport of all at the Commonwealth games, Athletics. It’s fair to assume that the investment will be sizable given athletics is a sport that attracts 10,000s of spectators to every session. MARS Stadium and the entire precinct will need to be ready with enhanced amenity and access to ensure athletics is one of the great highlights of the games,” Mr Poulton said.
In other budget news, Carngham Rd from Dyson Drive to Wiltshire Lane will be duplicated, though “it will be wait and see what the election brings for Dyson Drive as the budget is silent on this one”.
There is money for the new City of Ballarat’s Animal Shelter, with a $11.5m budget allocation.
“On balance, Committee for Ballarat is pleased to see the investment in our health services, including mental health. There is an urgency to the Commonwealth Games and the investment outlined in the budget reflects this urgency and hopefully, opportunities that will create lasting legacies.
“Given this is a pre-election budget, it seems apparent that there will be more to say in the months ahead about key investments from all those seeking election in Victoria’s next parliament.”