Fiona Patten: Budget Recovery Starts But More To Do
Leader of the Reason Party and Member for Northern Metropolitan has cautiously welcomed today’s State Budget, saying it was probably “the best the Treasurer could do given where we are at.”
“This was never going to be an easy budget given the circumstances that Victoria has found itself in over the last 12 months,” Ms Patten said.
“But there are positives, such as economic growth of 6.8 per cent in the December quarter, that point towards a strong recovery.”
Ms Patten said that she was pleased to see smaller than predicted budget deficits and a pathway back to surplus, but whilst the numbers add up for now, the next two quarterly results would tell the story. She has also welcomed a raft of government funding in areas Reason has lobbied heavily on.
“The government has committed to funding the North Richmond Medically Supervised Injecting Room facility fully for at least another two years and will invest in a second facility in the CBD and that’s very encouraging to see.
“A much-needed investment for roads in Melbourne’s North is also welcome, especially the Mickleham Road Upgrade and Craigieburn Road East, Hume Freeway Overpass to Epping Road. As is the investment in schools such as in Kensington and Northcote.
“Personally, I am very happy to see a $2.5 million investment to implement the Spent Convictions Scheme which will help so many Victorians rebuild their lives and brings us into line with all other states.”
However, misdirected investments in criminal justice and enforcement, remain a friction point between the government and Ms Patten’s Reason Party.
“It is a great disappointment to see the government again invest heavily in prisons – some $2.6billion – strict bail laws will bankrupt this state,” Ms Patten said.
“44% of people who have been to prison are returning within two years, it’s a flawed and expensive approach to crime prevention.
“In this budget they are also proudly touting their investment in the flawed and expensive roadside drug testing.
“It’s disappointing they’ve underfunded Aboriginal legal hubs, $2.2m for two hubs is not even close to half of what’s required.”
Wins for Reason and the Northern Metropolitan Region:
- $250k to fund a statue for a Victorian netballer, helping to rectify the gender imbalance in our public monuments.
- $31.1m for community legal centres
- $4.1m for three sexual and reproductive health clinics
- $41.5m Critical funding for people with complex needs in the prison system.
- Upgrades for Northcote High School, Kensington Primary School, Pascoe Vale Girls Secondary College, Plenty Parklands Primary School, Watsonia North Primary School.
- $145m for the redevelopment of public housing Carlton
- $9.4m for Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation
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