Read: Access full Victorian State Budget 2018/19 review here
The long-term trend of smaller rural communities is one which this government hopes to arrest. Investing funds in regional and rural areas and maintaining those investments into the future could help those communities to prosper and thrive.
Cutting the payroll tax rate for regional employers will hopefully lead to greater employment in rural areas and is a welcome measure. The government is also establishing a new government hub in Bendigo, which should help generate jobs in that city.
Funds are being made available to help promote regional tourism in Victoria whether this be by local, interstate or international visitors.
Further funds are being provided to improve digital connectivity in regional areas, which will assist businesses, farmers and families.
The government initiatives to inject funds into the TAFE sector are welcomed by country Victoria, where TAFE facilities in Bendigo, Morwell and Sale will receive a significant injection of funds to upgrade their facilities.
Education in rural and regional Victoria is marked for a welcome boost with a number of schools destined for upgrades.
In recognition of the fact that Victorian country roads have suffered from decades of under-investment, more than $940 million has been earmarked for a number of road initiatives across the state.
Public transport is not being left behind with over $700 million being made available to connect rural and regional communities to Melbourne and to each other.
Investment in regional healthcare is a recognition by the government that regional and rural Victorians cannot always easily access the best medical facilities. Ballarat Base Hospital will receive a major expansion and, the Wonthaggi Hospital redevelopment coupled with a number of other initiatives, will also benefit rural patients. This includes the areas of mental health and drug related initiatives.
Sport is often a key ingredient of rural communities and the government has earmarked funds to help develop facilities and encourage greater participation in sports.
Supporting agriculture and the environment are other initiatives announced in the Budget.
What’s the impact for middle market businesses?
Many businesses in regional and rural Victoria will have opportunities to take advantage of the government initiatives and to establish or grow their enterprises. With the right support, they can become key economic drivers of those communities.