Government | Regulation

Vic opposition promises population growth strategy and tax incentives to decentralise state

Victorian Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Matthew Guy, has noted decentralisation and tax reviews for regions in a speech aimed at addressing voter’s concerns over population and infrastructure pressures in Melbourne, in the lead up to the Victorian November election. 

He said delivering ‘European-style’ rail infrastructure and reviewing taxes for regions will be key to spreading Victoria’s record run of population and economic growth more evenly across the state.

“Only when we have sustainable population growth will we be able to ease the pressure on Melbourne and address the real issues that uncontrolled population growth is bringing us,” he said.

“Victoria can’t wait any longer, we can’t grow the next 30 years in the same way we’ve grown the last 30 years.

“Within 20 to 25 years Australian Bureau of Statistics show that Melbourne will add the population of Brisbane to it.

“Think about everything it takes to service our third largest city in Brisbane, school places, hospitals, aged care, the sewage system, order system, electricity, everything to service Brisbane is going to need to be added to Melbourne, our infrastructure, to manage the population growth that is coming.

“I simply ask this question as an economy, as a people, are we ready for that?”

Mr Guy said that population growth across the entire state had to be better managed with 90 per cent of Victoria’s 140,000 person increase in the last year being in Melbourne, despite accounting for 74 per cent of the state’s overall population.

“Melbourne is now one of the fastest growing cities in the Western world,” he said.

“Daniel Andrews, my opponent, says that it's inevitable that we will get to eight million people within the timeframes forecast and I disagree, nothing is inevitable.

“It's the job of government to find alternative ways forward.

“The reality is that Melbourne is groaning under the weight of 2700 extra people every week.”

Mr Guy also said he would remain Minister for Population should he win Government and introduce a Minister for Geelong.

“Noting its ability to absorb population and grow sustainably I'll have Victoria's first Minister for Geelong,” he said.

“This person will preside over the new Plan Geelong planning statement, a plan to grow Geelong to a city of half a million people by the mid part of this century.

“We’ll begin a postcode 3220 strategy, learning from the success of postcode 3000 here in Melbourne.

“The Minister for Geelong will preside over the development of this strategy that will be designed to bring greater urban density to the CBD of Geelong, our only north facing CBD.”

Expanding on previous announcements to upgrade the regional rail network to European speed standards, he said Victoria would be the first state in Australia to achieve such a feat.

“At 200 kilometres an hour Australia’s fastest trains will reduce travel time from Geelong to Melbourne to 32 minutes, Ballarat to 45 minutes and substantially reduce travel times from the Latrobe Valley and Bendigo,” he said. 

“But we’ll also upgrade country lines as well as those four intercity lines, the Bairnsdale, Warrnambool, Echuca, Swan Hill, Shepparton lines all upgraded with new passenger stock and new passenger services to bring back rail passenger services to Donald, Mildura, Hamilton, Horsham. 

“What we know of course is that heavy rail is the centrepiece to implementing decentralisation and that's why I will invest in it.”

Mr Guy also said a Liberal Nationals Government would create a Minister for Decentralisation, the first in over 38 years.

“This Minister will preside over the missing link for decentralising our state, a consistent narrative for each region,” he said.

“Bendigo is Australia's first regional financial capital, Ballarat is the transport hub of Victoria.

“We’ll bring VicRoads and maybe V-line to be located in that city. 

“Wodonga as a centre for driver education and training, Portland as a centre for renewables, Warrnambool as a centre for food processing and so forth.”

Mr Guy said a Liberal Nationals Government would fully review Victoria’s taxation system to incentivise decentralisation of jobs and population.

“We can't build our rural and regional economies by wishing it to be, so strategic tax incentives can play a vital role in decentralising jobs and population,” he said.
“Is it payroll tax, is it land tax, or property taxes that will need to change? That’s what the review will find out.”

Event presentations

Matthew Guy MP3
Question and answer MP3
Delegate handout PDF